Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Celebrate Flag Day With These Romance Novel Covers !

Did you know today was  Flag Day ?  Whatever the flag means to you, it's time to wave it in the air like you don't care. But if you're like me and don't have a star-spangled banner lying around just download these steamy romances with American flags blowing majestically on the cover and wave them around shouting U-S-A  !

The Protector by Donna Grant - An ex-Air Force pilot and Marine captain team up to solve a kidnapping.
Prince Joe by  Suzanne Brockman - A combat hardened Navy Seal is paired with a coach to help him impersonate a visiting European prince with a target on his back.
Issued to the Bride One Navy Seal by Cora Seton - A down on his luck Navy Seal is sent to help the General's daughter run the family ranch
Damned American! by Melian Belt
A U.S. Navy Captain and Italian soldier have to team up on an undercover mission
Point of Contact by Melanie Hansesn
The father of a fallen soldier finds unexpected comfort in his son's platoon mate.
Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole
A pair of slaves join  the Revolutionary War in exchange for their freedom.
Her Perfect Candidate by Candace Shaw 
A Georgia senator recruits an interior designer to clean up his image
Dirty Work by Chelle Bliss and Brenda Rorthert 
An enemies to lovers romance between a Republican and Democrat fighting for the same senate seat.
Deadly Rumors by Cheris Hodges 
An investigator teams up with an FBI agent to solve a missing person's case. 

I searched hard and long for covers with American flags, if there are any I missed leave them in the comments below !  (Also, no. No I didn't write this post during the Winter Olympics and then forgot to post it.)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey

Rating:  | 8 hours 23 minutes | 354 pages | Avon | Contemporary Romance | 8/29/2017

This review is going to involve some ranting.

23-year-old caterer Ever Carmichael and NYPD recruit Charlie Burns had the perfect acquaintances-with-benefits thing going on. But when Ever breaks things off so she can give the NYC dating scene a serious try, Charlie isn’t ready to let her go.

I had a hard time with these characters, Ever never felt like a fully realized heroine to me but she didn't bother me nearly as much as Charlie. Charlie Burns is on some Zack Morris Is Trash level of immaturity and gaslighting. He decides to start systematically ruining Ever’s dates so she’ll come back to him. He sends his police academy friends to act creepy at a speed dating event, catfishes her on a dating site and at one point he pulls the fire alarm to ruin her date...which seriously? SERIOUSLY? We’re breaking the law now? Charlie is aggressive, manipulative and then covers it with charm and I could not even with him. Don’t get me started on how he gets into a fight with another recruit and then pushes his superior (who luckily is his sequel-bait brother) but only gets a suspension. Like, this dude literally should not be allowed to be a cop. I mean even when he does the grovel, he does it using NYPD equipment.

All that said I’m willing to give Tessa Bailey another chance because I really did like her writing style. She writes in a snappy, pop-culture dotted, 4th wall breaking, perspective-shifting first person POV that I really liked, but may bother more traditional romance readers. Her writing also just sounds really good in audio and paired with veteran romance narrators Alexander Cendese and Samantha Cook this was a delightful audiobook listen.

Book received as part of the Avon Addict program 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Match Made In Bed by Cathy Maxwell

Rating: ★★★ | The Spinster Heiresses #1 | 384 pages | Avon | Historical | 4/17/18

After getting caught in a compromising position at a house party with Soren York, Earl of Dewsberry, the bluestocking heiress Cassandra Howell must either marry Soren immediately or embrace spinsterhood forever. Deciding she doesn't want to give up her chance at being the lady of her own house she takes his hand, but once she marries Soren she quickly discovers everything she’s ever known about her family and her fortune is a lie.

I thought overall this book was enjoyable but I had a rough start with it because I hated Soren. I don’t know what it is with the books I’m picking up lately but I hate when the hero doesn't take no for an answer and is a lying liar who lies. Soren has a son from a previous marriage and just decides not to tell Cassandra about any of that. There is even a point where he realized he hasn't made it clear to her he has a son and is just like “meh, whatevs I’ll deal with his later.”

Speaking of the son...So, Soren had a commission in Canada and had the son through a marriage to a Lenape woman. A woman who is dead because the Native and Indian women are always dead in these things.

Dear Traditional Regency Romance Authors,

Can we please have a moratorium on writing colonized just never feels right. I know it can be a hard thing to balance the realities of the time with a modern mindset but I feel like rule #1 is not to use the word savage--even to show the hero defending the minority--and to maybe not constantly compare the half native child to an animal.

That said this romance does have some really sweet moments. I loved the interactions between Soren and his son and this line from Soren after he and Cass go through their unexpected married

“Life rarely meets our expectations. But sometimes, when we are lucky, we discover things are better than we could have managed.”

I just think that describes the journey of a romance novel perfectly.

A Match Made in Bed is an ultimately sweet romance, with some interesting twists and turns but I had some serious side eye for a hero I could never fully get on board with.

*received as part of Avon Addicts Program

Friday, June 1, 2018

Fire In His Blood by Ruby Dixon (Fireblood Dragons #1)

Rating: ★★★ | 11 hours 27 minutes | Self-Published | Sci-Fi Romance | 06/20/2017

Seven years ago, after dragons appeared in the sky, America reformed itself into heavily militarized compounds dotting a scorched wasteland. That’s right, it’s a good old-fashioned dragon apocalypse, ya'll.

When 25-year-old Claudia Jones gets caught illegally scavenging by the local militia, they decide to use her as dragon bait and leave her in the wastelands with instructions to figure out, tame a dragon. Claudia has no idea what that even means until she catches the attention of a golden dragon and learns that the dragons are shifters and this one is a man...a man who very much wants her as his mate.

I wanted to like this book but, I'm just not into how base Dixon's heroes tend to be. I was hoping since the dragons were shifters they would be more emotionally complex than Dixon's infamous blue barbarians but the dragon shifter hero, Kael, is borderline troglodytic. He can’t remember what happened before he came to Earth so literally all he thinks about is getting and keeping his mate. I just need a little more emotional intelligence and complexities in a hero's story. Claudia was a great heroine though, she gets thrown into a bonkers situation and through it all was resourceful, tough as nails and fiercely loyal to her friends and family.

Claudia’s narrator, Noelle Bridges, originally drew me to this book, she has this slightly raspy voice that works for a character who has been through an apocalypse and she’s got a vast array of male voices. Jeremy York, on the other hand, sounded like a straight-up creeper to me. I don't know how to explain it. He doesn’t narrate a lot of sections but it was annoying enough that I ended up finishing this book in print.

This book does follow a lot of the same beats of Dixon's blue barbarians. I wouldn’t recommend this series to everyone, but if you fell for Dixon’s blue barbarians but want denser storytelling and higher stakes this might be for you.

I always thought when Ruby Dixon said she was NYT Best Selling author she meant as Ruby Dixon but apparently Ruby Dixon is the under wraps pen name of an established NYT best selling author. All this to say is my guess is that Ruby Dixon is Kristen Ashley because of the alpha heroes and I think she knows the self-pub game well enough to get covers like these designed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Seduced By The Badge by Deborah Fletcher Mello

Rating: ★★★ | 288 pages | Harlequin | Romantic Suspense | 06/01/2018 | Pre-order 
or Purchase now at Fair warning, there are some mild depictions and mentions of child abuse and assault, so proceed with caution.

Detective Armstrong Black and the Chicago P.D. gest a dose of Southern hospitality when Danni Winstead, one of Atlanta's best, goes undercover to infiltrate a dangerous human trafficking ring (as you do in romance . . .seriously, why is it always trafficking ?) in the heart of The Windy City. The closer she gets to a break in the case the closer she is drawn to the indomitable Chicago detective.

This is a very plotty suspense novel which is exactly my thing, Armstrong and Danni's attraction takes a back seat to Danni's deep undercover work, which was enough to keep me flipping the pages. She quickly befriends a young girl caught on the fringes of the human trafficking ring and lets herself be lured into the dangerous lifestyle. With that being said I found it a little hard to believe that everyone just believes this 34-year-old detective is a teenager. She doesn't even initiate the lie... people just assume she's a teenager. . .all the time. Who is she, Bianca Lawson ?

Danni owns this story while Armstrong hangs out on the periphery doing his investigating thing. He comes from an influential law family; his mother is a judge, his father is retired superintendent of police and his siblings are basically sequel bait who are all named after famous jazz musicians which I thought was pretty creative.

This is book one in the To Serve and Seduce series. I'm glad Mello, who was previously only published in the soon to be defunct Kimani line, has found a place in Harlequin Suspense.

Hey, cover designers! How come the heroine doesn't have a badge? I know it's a stock photo but y'all couldn't photoshop one on?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ashes On The Moor by Sara M. Eden

Ever since I read The Wake Up  I've been interested in the inspirational fiction genre. It's this sort of "feel-good" fiction about characters on journeys of self-discovery and redemption.  I've never gone out of my way to check out inspirational romance or books described as "proper romance" because I'm always like--what does that mean? That all other romance is improper?  I know that's not what they are saying, but still.

Our heroine Evangeline Blake is an upper-class woman set adrift after losing her entire family--save one sister--to illness. She is taken from her family estate to the small town of  Smeatly by her indifferent aunt who installs her as the new school teacher. On her own for the first time with no teaching experience and still grieving the loss of her family; Evangeline soon forms an unlikely relationship with her neighbor Irishman Dermot McCormick and his young son. Both Evangeline and Dermot are outsiders trying to prove to a town entrenched in poverty and uncertainty that together they can change the town for the better.

Ashes on the Moor is a quaint small town tale that goes pretty much how you would expect. Dermot's son is presented as being neurodivergent, something that was also in The Wake Up. Is this a common feature in inspirational fiction?

While I was reading up on "proper" or "inspirational" romance, one of the things I learned is that proper romance features feminist elements.  The more I thought about Ashes on The Moor, I realized that female empowerment and independence presented in a very broad. The focus is on women going out their own and making lives for themselves in a society where women weren't leveraged to do that.

Ashes On The Moor is a warm and heartfelt story about found family and the resilience of a community.

Check out the audio review at AudioFile Magazine

Can I just say I like the unique way inspirational romance covers present themselves? Unlike traditional romance, they generally feature period-specific dresses that appear more accurate along with warm colors and detailed backgrounds.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

6 Hot Royal Romances We Want to Crown Queen

It’s Harry and Meghan’s wedding weekend and we’ve put together a list of royal romances because...well...everyone else is doing it!

Not only is this a royal romance it’s also a mature romance. The crown prince of a fictional Caribbean island has seen his children paired off and is now looking for a love of his own. 

                          The Prince by Katharine Ashe

An exiled prince and talented portrait artist falls  for a promising female surgeon masquerading as a man in Regency-era Scotland

                           The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert

After getting caught by the paparazzi in a compromising position, a prince and his one night stand have to play fake fiances for one year.

When Dahlia decided to live life to the fullest she didn’t think that would include carrying the baby of a prince. Which means it’s secret royal baby time.

The last thing this Baltic straight-laced modern day warrior prince expects is to fall for an intriguing American girl.

These aren’t technically princess or royalty books but each book in this humorous contemporary series about three friends reclaiming their love lives is based on fairytale princesses.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

 Rating: ★★★ +.5 | 320 pages  | Berkley | Contemporary Romance | 01/30/2018

The Wedding Date is one of the hottest romance novels of the year (although...not in the smexy times way because this book fades to black real quick) and I was excited to see it chosen for Fountain Flirt, the local romance book club I just joined so I could finally prioritize reading it.

After a banter-filled meet cute in a faulty hotel elevator pediatric surgeon, Drew Nichols asks Alexa Monroe to be his pretend date at a wedding for his ex. Alexa and Drew's pretend wedding dates shenanigans quickly turn into weekend rendezvous, but with hundreds of miles between them and demanding careers their not sure an HEA is in their future.

This book was a slow start for me, it's got pretty low stakes. Like they-could-solve-all-their-problems with-one-conversation low stakes. I had a hard time getting into it and it wasn't until the external conflict was brought in towards the end does it pick up. As I mentioned earlier this book is fade to black in a way that gave me whiplash because they go right up to the moment and then skip over it, which isn’t something I’ve never read before.

This is an interracial romance and unlike the other IR I’ve read, it does briefly address cultural differences. In an interview with Bitch Media Guillory said they added those conversations later. and while it was a little weird to see some of those moments in a romance it also feels timely.

For or a witty modern love story make a date with the Wedding Date. Although let's face it, it's probably already on your TBR.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

If I Should Ever Love You by Cathy Maxwell

 Rating: ★★★ +.5 | The Spinster Heiresses #1 | 368 pages  | Avon | Historical | 12/26/17

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

Leonie Charnock is one of the three notorious spinster heiress--three best friends of marriageable age who haven’t been able to find a husband for a variety of reasons. Leonie’s father wants to hold out for the highest title he can get for her, which is fine by her since she’s not that interested in marriage.

Enter Roman Gilchrist--the newly appointed Duke of Rochdale--who has not only just inherited his estranged Uncle’s title, but also his gambling debt and crumbling estate. Roman needs Leonie's dowry and she is the perfect match, especially since they share a dark secret from seven years ago that ruined Roman’s military career and left a man dead.

I don’t usually pick up ballroom historical romances but I enjoyed this book. It has everything I want in a romance; female friendships, sexy consent, and complex female characters. One of the issues this book tackled is alcoholism, and it was interesting to watch Leonie’s journey with this issue when there wasn’t a clear understanding of it, especially for women.

This is a charming opening to a new series that's not afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

Received as part of the Avon Addicts program!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Virgin Territory by Lia Riley (Hellion Angels #3)

 Rating: ★★★ +.5 | 149 pages  | Avon Impulse | Contemporary Romance | 03/06/18

I’m a sucker for the virgin hero trope, it’s a rare one and I really like it in M/F romance because it subverts the typical gender expectations and adds an interesting power dynamic to the relationship.

After getting into a bar fight with a scummy lawyer, hot-headed pro hockey goalie Patrick “Patch” Donnelly is assigned to take meditation classes from the high-spirited yoga teacher Margot Kowalski. She’s supposed to show him how to find peace of mind, but after a few weeks together she may have found a piece of his heart.

The lust between the characters is sparked on their first meeting and they take care of the whole virgin hero thing real quick, it's not much of a conflict in the story. The hero and heroine complement each other well as they navigate their budding relationship. There are some fun antics and even a B-story about Patch being sued for something he didn’t do, that was like a mini legal drama embedded in the romance.

Perfect for a one sitting read, Virgin Territory is a shortie but a goodie!

I was kind of annoyed that in the opening scene where Margot is in one of those cafes that doesn’t allow patrons to use their screens. I would never go into one of these. No coffee shop can tell me if I can have a phone or laptop out.

Received as part of the Avon Addicts program! 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blood Guard by Megan Erickson (Mission #1)

Note:  I started this book before all the Santino Hassell revelations came out. I’m not sure what Erickson's involvement was in any of it and how much she knew, but I do think I’ll be taking a break from reviewing her titles after this one.

Rating: ★★ | 213 pages  | Loveswept (Random House) | Paranormal Romance | 9/12/17 

Tendra Parrish thought she had a pretty normal life until it's turned upside down by the appearance of Athan Gregorie--a 7 foot vampire who informs her that her blood is part of an ancient vampire prophecy and if she doesn't get her blood to the vampire prince all of humanity will be enslaved by evil vampires. As you do. It's Athan's sacred duty to guard her on the journey to the vampire prince but along the way, she finds herself more attracted to her guard than her fated prince.

Okay, so I’m going to use the T-word.

I haven’t actually read any vampire romance except Twilight and it turns out...I’m just not that into it. I just can’t get into the blood thing. Every time Athan came near her body with his fanged mouth I was just like:

Also, the conflict felt kind of cartoon-y. Tendra is basically a McGuffin and I never understood why the bad vampires wanted to enslave humanity. The good and bad vampires have managed to live literally thousands of years without enslaving humans. The humans who know about vampires willingly give their blood and take pleasure from it so it's not like they are in danger of losing their supply. Also, these vampires can't go out in the daytime which I think would make it pretty hard to control humans.

 I’m already a hard sell on paranormal elements and could just never fully engage with this one.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

No Earls Allowed By Shana Galen

Rating: ★★★★ | 354 pages | Sourcebooks Casablanca | Historical | 3/6/2018

In his nightmares, Major Neil Wraxall is still battling the violent war that took the lives of his men and his only brother.  He may have come home a war hero but as an illegitimate son, he is at the beck and call of his father; who assigns Neil the impossible task of bringing the headstrong Lady Juliana back home from the rundown Sunnybrooke Home For Wayward Boys and the twelve rambunctious orphans she is trying to keep in order. Juliana isn't going anywhere . . . so neither is Neil, who soon finds himself whipping the motley crew of boys into shape.

(In other news, I  just got the title of this book...Get it? It's about a home for boys?  No girls allowed. Also, I don't think there are any Earls in this book...Wraxall's father is a Marquess. . . )

No Earls Allowed sort of had the feel of a fun 80's rompy comedy as Neil uses his military know how to get the wayward boys in order . . .while also foiling a corruption plot? I don't usually go for books with kids in them, but there is something endearing about the flurry of chaos that erupts with everyone under one roof.

This series is all about self-assured war heroes meeting their match with plucky headstrong heroines and Lady Juliana is no exception.  Lady Juliana is determined to turn Sunnybrooke into a real home and while she accepts Neil's help, she refuses to let any of the boys slip out of her protection.

Did I mention that this book has a virgin hero? I don't think it's that big of a spoiler because it doesn't have anything to do with the plot and is revealed early on. Knowing the difficulties of being an illegitimate child Neil never wanted to risk having one of his own. His choice to abstain is because of social constraints, something we usually only think about with women and I think it's worth noting Galen applies this to the hero.

 A heartwarming romance that isn't afraid to bring the heat.

This isn't the first virgin hero I've read from Galen. The Making of A Gentlemen also features one but he was like. . . locked up in prison since he was a child.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Off Base By Annabeth Albert

Rating: ★★★★ | 8 hrs 9 min | Carina Press| M/M Contemporary| 1/09/2017 | Buy Now!

Off Base is my first foray into M/M romance. I've been wanting to read M/M for awhile and  I've been hesitant about non #ownvoices, because the idea of a subgenre that is generally accepted as being, written by straight women about gay men for straight women. just made me unsure. But I've heard good things about Annabeth Albert and this series has won a few audiobook awards, so I was ready to jump in.

Zack Nelson is the good son. He has made his parents proud by moving to California and becoming a Navy SEAL. But on the inside, Zack is struggling to confront his sexuality. Even though he is serving in a post-DADT military he is still confronted with homophobic jokes by the men who are supposed to have his back.

Needing some space, Zack decides to move on off base (oh, I get the title) to a house in need of a serious renovation. He agrees to take acquaintance Pike Reynolds-- a smart, vocal out-and-proud math professor and home repair expert--on as a roommate. The two work together on the house but soon Pike is doing a rehab of his own on the tough SEAL.  As Pike slowly gets Zack to open up, their bond becomes a safe haven f, but can they ever explore the possibility of being together outside the four walls of the house they share?

The house is sort of like a third character in this book (Yeah, I said it) because it serves as this sort of refugee for the Pike and Zack. It's a safe place for Zack to explore his feelings while not having to confront them, which becomes the main emotional crux of the book.  Pike is also dealing with his career taking a turn he didn't expect, but I found his plot pretty predictable. Zack steals the show in this one.

The book doesn't glamorize Navy SEALs, there are no clandestine missions or doors being broken down. The harassment and blackmail Zack has to deal with is handled very seriously and methodically in this book, I am curious how much of this is pulled from true stories.

Narrator Tyler Stevens does an amazing job and he gets real emphatic during emotional scenes. You can just tell he is really getting into it. I'm kind of sad to find out he only does one book in this series.

 Zack is 23 years-old and I think Pike is supposed to be a bit older but to me this skewed as New Adult. The characters are finding their place in the world and no one has a ton of money to throw around.

I'm just going to say it. I really dislike the name Pike. It just made me think about Starbucks.

An emotional character driven military novel with a slow-burning romance and unbeatable odds.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

How The Cowboy Was Won by Lori Wilde (Cupid, Texas #6)

Rating: +.5 | 3/2/2018 | 384 pages | Avon | Contemporary | Cupid, Texas  #6

After a bitter divorce Ember Azalte is back in her hometown of Cupid, Texas where she’s fashioned herself into something of a matchmaker. Her current prospect is Ranger Lockhart, her childhood best friend now brother-in-law back in town from a year abroad. A year away has made Ranger realize he only has eyes for Ember...if only he could tell her that without ruining their lifelong friendship.

As I’m sure 90% of you have already put together, yes, yes this is an Emma inspired romance.

I’ve been reading a lot of Lori Wilde for Avon Addicts and she writes playfully warm contemporary romances with a little Texas twang. I loved that Ember was an impulsive extrovert who existed opposite the more introverted and pragmatic Ranger who (as I’m sure you tell by the cover) is a post doc astrobiologist. Their life-long friendship felt authentic. This is also a slo-o-o-ow burn romance, like they don’t get together as a couple until like 90% in and then it moves at a  break neck pace as they go  almost immediately to the black moment and HEA.

All that said, the way in which this book used Native American culture feels incredibly cringe-y. Ember is half Apache and we get a lot of the spiritual parts of Native Americans without any real nuance. I understand half-Native is a common trope in western romances but there are just a few moments where characters make rude comments towards Native Americans and it's kind of treated like nothing. The worst is a flashback where as children Ember and Ranger are playing with a knife and Ranger’s stepmom sees them and says Ember is trying to scalp Ranger and I’m just like wow, we’re really going to have a character make a racist statement and just blow over it ? Was it supposed to be funny to the reader ?

I’m not saying authors needs to write political thinkpieces but you just can’t strip a culture down to it’s pretty mystical parts. Ranger has this minor backstory about being sick as a child that you don’t really need so I don’t see they couldn’t stick in some of the cultural back story with Ember. In the book Ember has been recruited to make a tourist film about the town’s white founders. Why not make it about the Native American that used to live there ?

Maybe this stuff is fleshed out better in the other books about Ember’s relatives, but I’m rating this one and while the book was passable I have to drop it a star because this stuff bothered me. It’s 2018, ya’ll.

ARC received as part of the Avon Addicts program

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Blitz: Unearth Me by Grey


Unearthing is the act of discovering something hidden, lost or kept secret by probing, investigating or digging.

Kirklynn Sayers, 34-year-old renowned therapist of Huffington Mill, has mastered every aspect of her life except love. She refuses to refer to herself as a hopeless romantic, simply, because she’s lost interest in finding it, altogether. Unsympathetic about her shallow hopes of partnership, she buries the hatchet and focuses on creating a legacy and defying the stigma attached to therapists as herself.

Heath Benedict, 26 years old and the newest heir of the Benedict throne, is still suffering from the death of his grandfather years prior. Though he was blessed with a budding empire as a result of it, Harold Benedict’s death unsealed wounds that he’d covered for Heath’s sanity and protection. Heath has the world at the tip of his fingers, but the feeling of inadequacy is keeping him from accessing it.

From the day he took charge of Benedict and Associates, Heath has only been content with one aspect of the company... access to Kirklynn Sayers. He, soon, discovers that her wholesomeness is the key to unlock his sanity. While she tries to solve his issues of inadequacy through treatment, Heath reveals that there’s only one way to heal him. Submission.

Kirklynn refuses to submit and jeopardize her career, leaving Heath with no choice but to force his hand. Journey through a story of uncertainty as the two struggle to unearth their most sacred aspirations while undressing one another in the process.

Purchase on Amazon  | Add to Goodreads

Grey Huffington, evoking emotions through raw, heart-piercing Romance.

Between the pages and through the bleeding ink of my pen, I urge to create whimsical stories that depict the truth about black love with relative situations, circumstances, and characters. Grey is a penman derived from a deeper desire to tell of less complex, circumstantial, stereotyped, and biased stories of black and interracial love. My goal is to highlight the misconception that black love stories can be everything BUT pleasant, joyful, everlasting, and beautiful.

Follow Grey:


Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Princess In Theory By Alyssa Cole

Rating: ★★★★ | 354 pages | Avon | Contemporary / Royalty | 2/27/2018 

A Princess In Theory is a humorous and delightful  kick-off to Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series. Naledi Smith has a ton to juggle between grad school, lab work and waitressing--the last thing she needs is to get caught up with Jamal, the cute guy at work who just happens to be her new neighbor.

... except Jamal isn't who he say he is, he is actually Prince Thabsio, the crown prince of Thesolo who has gone undercover to meet the girl he was bethored to as a child. Thabsio gets more than he bargained for with Naledi --- but can he tell her who he really is before it's too late ?

In a lot of ways, this book was exactly what I thought it would be, but I wasn't expecting this book to be so funny ! A lot of the initial humor comes from Thabiso's early interactions with Ledi. It's this comedy of manners as he tries to be blend in as a regular American guy. It hits all the moments you want to see in a romance like this and is filled with memorable side characters.

I also like that Alyssa Cole threw in cute little expys for real life things like there is a food delivery service called "Yellow Spoon" and "Instaphoto" is a popular social media platform. I gather these are going to keep showing up in the wold of these books. I'm also pretty sure Regina's , Ledi's best friend's sister, website GirlWithGlasses is an expy of BlackGirlNerds ! I hope Regina gets to be the heroine of a book.

As you can imagine when you have a hero lying to a heroine you want a good grovel, and don't worry we get a pretty good one here.Look, I'm going to be honest,  the book didn't completely land the ending. There was an intrigue plot that popped up and was really easy to figure out. I really just wanted was more of the cute Brooklyn love story from the first half of the book.

So, if you're looking for a book that features STEM, African Royalty and female characters who are crushin' it--and you've already seen Black Panther five times--A Princess, In Theory, is everything you want, and that is a fact! 

*ARC received for review

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely

Rating: |  6/23/2017 | 302 pages | Self-Published  | Contemporary | Standalone

I’ve been reading a lot of traditionally published romance as part of Avon Addicts and wanted to break it up with something indie and a little zany so when this came through on my library holds I snapped it up.

30-year-old Nicole Powers thinks she is immune to love but she is ready to become a single mom by choice and wants her co-worker Ryder Lockhart as her sperm donor. Ryder and Nicole are the resident dating and intimacy experts at a media conglomerate and decide they’re both mature enough to forgo the clinics and stirrups, draw up a contract of their own and do things the old fashioned way.

This book is not actually as cray as I thought it would be. It turned out to be a down-to-earth, well written, funny story with a sweet slow burn romance that just kind of sneaks up on you.

I think Blakely made some really great choices with her characters, particularly with the hero. Ryder wrote a bestseller and gave seminars to men on how to date women but lost it all when his picture perfect marriage ended. Now he has had to become more of a pick up artist type. I think male dating experts are hard to capture and he could have easily come off as a creep but Blakely makes it work.

Ryder and Nicole communicate using humor and I got so many rom com vibes from this book. I’m so mad Hallmark would probably never touch it because of the plot so I need you to come through Lifetime.

Lauren Blakely originally  caught my eye as an author because some of her covers are constantly doing the most to lure readers in.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren Dane (Whiskey Sharp #1)

Rating: +.5 | 1/30/2018 | 384 pages | Harlequin | Contemporary | Whiskey Sharp #1

After Maybe Dolan's older sister survives a horrific ordeal they move to Seattle for a new beginning. With the referral from their neighbor Maybe applies for a job at Whiskey Sharp, a downtown barber shop and whiskey bar. The proprietor, Russian immigrant Alexsei Petrov, isn’t sure the spirited,chatty girl with a lip ring and punk rock attitude is a right fit for his business. But two years later Maybe’s made a place for herself in the shop and and now that Alexsei’s engagement is over he wonders if she can also find a place in his heart.

I really like Lauren Dane, when I first started reading romance she was one of the few white authors including heroines of color into her series and I really liked the interview she gave on Smart Podcasts, Trashy Books about female friendships in romance but, woo, this romance just did not work for me. Dane had this tendency to have these dense emotional internal dialogues that straight up bored me at some moments.

I love some good competency porn and was  really hoping for some rich details about how this whiskey bar and barber shop operates but the barbershop is treated somewhat incidentally. We don’t know how or why Alexsei decided to open the shop or get into how the other employees feel about this workplace relationship. In fact as I’m re-reading the ARC for the review I realize they never even mention Maybe having a barbershop license or why she can cut men’s hair.

What almost turned this book into a DNF for me was the conflict between Maybe’s psychotically emotionally abusive father. For some reason the book doesn’t reveal Maybe’s sister’s entire backstory until 43% so I won’t say too much, but basically her  Dad is mad at Maybe for taking her older sister away from them. He was just straight up evil to Maybe and there are several scenes of him being verbally abusive towards her and after a while it wasn’t enjoyable to read and the scenes never lead to anything.

All that said Dane does deliver on what she preaches about female friendships, there is a lot of female characters checking in on each other and  Maybe and her sister have a great relationship but I think Dane is more interested in her character’s deep emotional inventories as a writer than I am as a reader.

The first book in the Whiskey Sharp series went a little sour for me and not in a good way.

*ARC received from NetGalley