The Soldier and the Spy by Annabelle Greene

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

A beholden man finds himself falling for the war hero he’s destined to double-cross.

Three hundred pounds for one night of protection. It’s a job offer, but it’s also a ruse. Captain Benjamin Frakes, war hero and de facto head of the Society of Beasts—a club for gentlemen who prefer gentlemen—is tempted to turn it down. But August Weatherby, the sexy, brazen stranger making the offer, has captivated him completely.

August is hardly the flush flirt he claims to be, however. An indebted man, desperate to save his infirm sister, August makes an ideal pawn for a lord eager to bring down the Society of Beasts once and for all. But August’s charge to find evidence against Frakes is at odds with his own virgin desire to entice the captain into showing him the true meaning of pleasure.

As August’s infiltration pushes him deeper into the beguiling world of delights behind the Society’s closed doors, he and Frakes discover new ways to push the boundaries of their own cravings. But with mounting pressure to complete his devious mission, August finds himself torn between the man his heart yearns for and the sister whose life depends on his betrayal.

 

Review

August Weatherby is a desperate man. His sister is ill, his debts are racking up, and he’s got nowhere to turn. Until he has an offer to help ensure his sister would remain safe and fed. He needs to infiltrate the Society of the Beasts and get ahold of evidence against Captain Benjamin Frakes to use for blackmail.

I feel like the best part of this novel was August’s character growth. He was initially a man entirely focused on his and his sister’s survival. He was willing to do everything possible to ensure they make it. As he became more involved with the Society of Beasts and got to know each of the members, things started to change for him. It wasn’t easy to betray the people that he had come to call friends.

I was expecting a little more espionage and action, but this was a little light on what I hoped for. There was a little more action towards the end of the ovel and it pulled me in and had me rooting for both August and Frakes.

Towards the end of the novel, I felt like I was finally able to understand who Benjamin Frakes was. He had been so closed off, and despite the courage he had in war, he was afraid now that he was home.

Okay, so the facts. Do you need to read the first in the series to enjoy this? Nope. Would you benefit from it? Yeah, there’s some background on some of the characters that I feel like would have made things better. Would I recommend this to other readers? If you are a historical romance reader, I’d definitely give this one a go. 

To be released April 20, 2021

Wonderstruck by Allie Therin

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

New York, 1925

Arthur Kenzie is on a mission: to destroy the powerful supernatural relic that threatens Manhattan—and all the nonmagical minds in the world. So far his search has been fruitless. All it has done is keep him from the man he loves. But he’ll do anything to keep Rory safe and free, even if that means leaving him behind.

Psychometric Rory Brodigan knows his uncontrolled magic is a liability, but he’s determined to gain power over it. He can take care of himself—and maybe even Arthur, too, if Arthur will let him. An auction at the Paris world’s fair offers the perfect opportunity to destroy the relic, if a group of power-hungry supernaturals don’t destroy Rory and Arthur first.

As the magical world converges on Paris, Arthur and Rory have to decide who they can trust. Guessing wrong could spell destruction for their bond—and for the world as they know it.

Review

I’m going to miss Rory and Ace! The Magic in Manhattan series had quickly become one of my favorites and I always looked forward to the next novel. All good series have to come to an end and I’m happy with how this series wrapped up.

            Ace and Rory head to Paris and towards the world’s fair to destroy the relics that are dangerous to humanity for even existing. It could be life or death for them, but this is much bigger than them. Zhang, Jade, Gwen, and Ellis all return and at first, I was like, huh? Gwen and Ellis? But Gwen and Ellis surprised me.

            My favorite parts about Wonderstruck

            The action sequences. There were moments that my heart was racing with anxiety. I needed to keep turning the page to see what was going to happen. Adding the vivid setting, imagery and dialogue I felt as though I was in the moment.

            Rory finally acknowledged that he can ask for help and that these people were his real family. Family isn’t always what you’re born into, it’s the people who make you feel whole. He finally saw this.

            There were moments Ace and Rory couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. It was clear they missed each other when they were separated, but even when they were traveling together there were little touches between each other. My inner romantic sighed happily a few times.

            What I wished there was?

            More novels in the series! I know, I know. But honestly? The only thing that was missing, was on page love scenes. I’m an avid romance reader so with the build up and then skipping to later was a little disappointing.

            BUT

            I absolutely loved this series. It’s one I’ll revisit and continue recommending to other readers because it truly was a series that made me happy and excited to read.

To be released February 9th – Get your copy here

The Beautiful Things Shoppe by Philip William Stover

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Moving to eclectic New Hope, Pennsylvania, and running The Beautiful Things Shoppe is a dream come true for elegant and reserved fine arts dealer Prescott J. Henderson. He never agreed to share the space with Danny Roman, an easygoing extrovert who collects retro toys and colorful knickknacks.

And yet here they are, trapped together in the quaint shop as they scramble to open in time for New Hope’s charming Winter Festival.

Danny has spent years leading with his heart instead of his head. The Beautiful Things Shoppe is his chance to ground himself and build something permanent and joyful. The last thing he needs is an uptight snob who doesn’t appreciate his whimsy occupying half his shop.

It’s only when two of New Hope’s historic landmarks—each as different as Danny and Prescott—are threatened that a tentative alliance forms. And with it, the first blush of romance. Suddenly, running The Beautiful Things Shoppe together doesn’t seem so bad…until Danny’s secret threatens to ruin it all.

Review

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. I hated the beginning of this book. I almost DNF’ed it, that’s how much I didn’t like the beginning of this book. The enemy shopkeepers, forced to work together, just was written in a way that made me HATE Danny and Prescott. The way Danny and Prescott spoke to each other, just why? It made me angry. I would never treat anyone the way they treated each other.

But, I was one book away from meeting my reading goal for the year and I had invested a good amount of time trudging through the first 30% of it, I was determined to finish it.

I’m glad I did.

As soon as they got over themselves and started to get to know each other as the collectors they were, I liked them as characters. Prescott had gotten to know the people of New Hope and had fallen in love with the town. Danny found himself listening to Prescott as he sold his antiques and he started to understand Prescott.

They were complete opposites. Danny liked the vintage, toy, oddball collectibles. Prescott searched for historical pieces. They ended up working together, along with the town, to save two historical landmarks of New Hope. Of course, small towns means interfering do-gooders, pushing Danny and Prescott together. Which I loved!

Now, don’t expect a fiery romance scene in this book. But there were some toe-curling kisses exchanged and some very sweet moments between Danny and Prescott. I got a little teary eyed at how sweet they were.

So, like I said, love/hate. I detest the beginning 30% of this book but loved the last 50% of it.

To be released January 26, 2021

Learned Behaviors by Jayce Ellis

Learned Behaviors (Higher Education, #1)

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Two single dads meet at the office where it’s hate at first sight in this new series from acclaimed author Jayce Ellis.

Sending his daughter off to college is the proudest day of single dad JaQuan Reynolds’ life. Everything took a back seat to raising her—including his career. He has no idea what comes next, but his newfound freedom is quickly curtailed by a crash deadline at work and the uptight, hovering presence of consultant Matthew Donaldson. He’s surly and insufferably sexy, and Jaq’s ready to check him out and write him off—right up until a work assignment forces them together.

Every day. From now until Thanksgiving.

Work and fatherhood have been Matt’s whole world for years now, ever since his marriage ended. His eldest son is getting hitched over Thanksgiving weekend, and he’s not going to let a work deadline get in the way of celebrating with his family—not this time. The hours aren’t a problem, but the executive assistant on the project might be. Jaq’s sexy voice makes Matt yearn for things he let go of a long time ago.

Lust isn’t on the schedule, and neither is longing. But as the weeks go by, Matt and Jaq are forced to reevaluate their plans…and discover that even the most tight-knit of families can make room for one more.

Review

This was the first novel I’ve read by Jayce Ellis, and I loved it! I’ve got all the rest of Jayce’s novels on my wishlist.

JaQuan Reynolds is a dedicated, hardworking, young single-father. At 35 he’s dropping his daughter off for her first days of college and finding out who he is outside of fatherhood. He loves his job, but being thrown head first into a time crunch with a partner company to release a line of home goods for Black Friday, it’s stressful.

What JaQuan didn’t factor in was Matt and how, smart, determined, and undeniably attractive the man was. Matt is a little too married to his job and it shows in his family life. He almost doesn’t get an invitation to his son’s wedding, his daughter doesn’t talk to him about her personal life, and his ex-wife has little faith in him when it comes to anything besides work.

What I loved what how distinctive JaQuan and Matt were. I could hear their voices in my head as I read, and oh my, it felt like fingertips dancing down my spine. I was in the office they worked in, on campus with their girls and at Matt’s son’s wedding. I could picture their daughters, Jaq’s mother like they were my family. The secondary characters, were strong, independent women. I don’t think we get that enough in books. They were just as important to Jaq and Matt’s storyline as their interactions were. Ellis paints a vivid picture with her writing.

JaQuan, while younger than Matt, taught Matt more about the important things in life. Your family, friends, and individual happiness is more important than the whir of work. Someone is always there to take your place at work, but not with your family.

The chemistry between Jaq and Matt *fans self* oh from the moment they laid eyes on each other I could feel the heat. They may not have liked each other all that much in the beginning, but the more they worked together the more intense their feelings became. I do wish there was a little more to the romance scenes.  

I’m going to go see which book I’m going to buy next!

Get your copy here

The Love Study by Kris Ripper

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.

And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.

When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.

The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.

Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.

Review

When I saw The Love Study I grabbed this book up to read and review without hesitation. There aren’t enough books out there that feature nonbinary characters as a love interest.

Declan, always introduced to new people as, “This is Declan, he left his boyfriend at the alter” doesn’t have the best dating record. When he meets Sidney, a YouTuber with an advice show, an opportunity jumps him in the face. Sidney will arrange a series of dates and his report of how those dates went would be featured in Sidney’s YouTube show The Love Study.

What I enjoyed about the dates? Each date was so different from the one before it. Then, of course, we figure out why the dates weren’t as successful as they could have been. Declan is attracted to and has chemistry with is Sidney.

When they finally get together, it was the sweetest thing ever. There were moments I had the cheesiest grin when they would spend time together. Sidney was an introvert, through and through, which I related to so much. I’m good with spending moments of quiet with another person and I’d be content with that. You don’t really get to see introverts portrayed the way Sidney was and I was all about it.

The banter between all the characters was so much fun. Like, the Marginalized Motherfuckers? LOVED them in all their messy goodness. I could see why their friendship had survived for so long.

There were a couple of issues I had with The Love Study. I couldn’t picture either Sidney or Declan at all. It made me crazy not being able to picture them in my head as I was reading. Then the conflict towards the end, it left me with a meh feeling.

Overall, this was a good read. Would I recommend it to other readers? Yes! We need more diversity and this was refreshing and easy to get lost in!

Pre-Order your copy here

Common Goal by Rachel Reid

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

New York Admirals goalie Eric never thought his friends-with-benefits arrangement with much-younger Kyle would leave them both wanting more…

Veteran goaltender Eric Bennett has faced down some of the toughest shooters on the ice, but nothing prepared him for his latest challenge—life after hockey. It’s time to make some big changes, starting with finally dating men for the first time.

Graduate student Kyle Swift moved to New York nursing a broken heart. He’d sworn to find someone his own age to crush on (for once). Until he meets a gorgeous, distinguished silver fox hockey player. Despite their intense physical attraction, Kyle has no intention of getting emotionally involved. He’ll teach Eric a few tricks, have some mutually consensual fun, then walk away.

Eric is more than happy to learn anything Kyle brings to the table. And Kyle never expected their friends-with-benefits arrangement to leave him wanting more. Happily-ever-after might be staring them in the face, but it won’t happen if they’re too stubborn to come clean about their feelings.

Everything they both want is within reach… They just have to be brave enough to grab it.

Review

First, ya’ll I apologize. I’m in a strict hockey headspace because the Stanley Cup and HOCKEY IS BACK!!

That being said, this cover, uh, yes please, thank you. I need all the gorgeous goalie covers in my life. I have a soft spot for goalies and their quirks. Like, the goalie head-bumps at the end of the game? I LIVE for those moments.

Eric, veteran goalie, recently divorced and he is exploring his bisexuality for the first time. He’s seen several other players find the type of love he didn’t think he could have and he’s finally found someone who he wants to experience these moments with.

Kyle is getting over his long time crush and offers his expertise to Eric. As he and Eric end up in each other’s lives more often than not, it would be hard not to form a friendship. That relationship steadily develops the more time they spend with each other.

What I absolutely loved? Eric, just one hundred percent Eric. He had a kinship with the goalie posts and it reminded me of all the moments I caught of a goalie tapping their goal posts after a save, or pregame as they’re getting into the zone. There was more to him than being a professional hockey player. He has a love for art that he wants to share with people (which just so happens to be Kyle). I enjoyed the party scene where he and Kyle were off on their own connecting with each other. Even in a house full of hockey players, it still felt intimate.

Kyle,  oh I felt for him. I just wanted to give him all the hugs. Like I know what it feels like to be in those shoes, crushing hard on someone only to find out they’ll never return those feelings. I just wished he would have had more faith in Eric instead of being stuck on the age difference.

They were such a great pairing though. Their chemistry as both friends and lovers was off the charts. They communicated, tried new things and enjoyed themselves when they were together.

I have so much love for this series! If you are a hockey fan, give these a read because they don’t let you down At all.

Pre-Order your copy here

To be released September 21, 2020

 

Out on the Ice by Kelly Farmer

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary:

Caro Cassidy used to be a legend.

During her career, Caro was one of the best defense players in women’s hockey. These days, she keeps to herself. Her all-girls hockey camp is her life, and she hopes it’ll be her legacy. Sure, her new summer hire is charming and magnetic, but Caro keeps her work and personal life strictly separate.

Amy Schwarzbach lives life out loud.

Amy’s as bright and cheerful as her lavender hair, and she uses her high-profile position in women’s hockey to advocate for the things she believes in. Ten weeks in Chicago coaching a girls’ training camp is the perfect opportunity to mentor the next generation before she goes back to Boston.

Letting love in means putting yourself out there.

When the reticent head coach offers to help Amy get in shape for next season, her starstruck crush on Caro quickly blossoms into real chemistry. As summer comes to an end, neither of them can quite let go of this fling—but Amy can’t afford a distraction, and Caro can’t risk her relationship becoming public and jeopardizing the one thing that’s really hers.

The Review

This was a low-angst, quick-to-read, romance.

Caro Cassidy runs a hockey school for girls. She keeps her personal life close to the vest and doesn’t advertise her sexuality. She adheres to a strict professional policy. In comes Amy Schwarzbach, lives her life out loud and doesn’t let anyone tell her how she should live her life. She does her best to encourage girls to be true to themselves while playing hockey in a safe space provided by Girls and Goals.

What I liked about Out on the Ice was the fact Caro and Amy were polar opposites, but they still fit together. Caro had gotten stuck in a repetitive cycle, but Amy makes her consider what how she could change for the better.

Amy was a bisexual character and If eel like there aren’t enough books with bisexual characters, and they talk about their previous partners. It was a genuine representation.

A lot of the romance was off screen, so if you’re looking for that you aren’t going to find that here. It was very sweet.

I was left wanting, but this was a good debut for Kelly Farmer .

Pre-Order here

 

Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

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Four out of Fives Stars

Summary

Megan Harris had hopes of seeing the world, but at twenty-five she’s never even left Florida. Now a wedding invitation lures her to Quebec…in February. When her ex-friend Scarlett offers to be her plus-one (yeah, that’s a whole story) and suggests they turn the journey into an epic road trip, Megan reluctantly agrees to the biggest adventure of her life.

A week together in a car is a surefire way to kill a crush, and Scarlett Andrews has had a big one on Megan for years. The important thing is fixing their friendship.

As the miles roll away, what starts as harmless road-trip games and rest-stop dares escalates into something like intimacy. And when a surprise snowstorm forces Megan and Scarlett to hunker down without the open road as distraction, they’ve got a bigger challenge than making it to the church on time: facing the true nature of their feelings for each other.

Review

Megan and Scarlett used to be great friends, now? Not so much. Megan felt left behind as Scarlett moved from Florida for college and life. When Juliet invites them to her wedding in Quebec, they reluctantly agree to road trip their way from Florida to Quebec.

Megan packs her scrap book and polaroid camera, hesitantly ready to see what she’s been missing out on. Even with ground rules, Scarlett manages to surprise Megan with her thoughtfulness in planning stops that Megan might enjoy.

I liked that we eventually got to find out what split Megan and Scarlett apart and upon learning those reasons, they were able to address it and move forward in their budding relationship. They both complimented, and challenged each other. Their chemistry and attraction to each other grew with each stop they made and I loved it.

Their romance was a slow burn that grew in intensity. There were a few moments that had me fanning myself lol. I was a little surprised by the boldness of Scarlett at first, but then I can’t see Scarlett being any other way but bold, even in the bedroom.

Get your copy here

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Continue reading “Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters”

Better Than People by Roan Parrish

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…

Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.

Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.

Being with Jack—talking, walking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.

The Review

Simon has severe anxiety. Jack has a broken leg. Who would have known that this would turn out to be the perfect combination? It’s hard to pinpoint why I enjoyed their story. Every time I sat down to read, I was left feeling hopeful and happy.

An app, PetShare, is what brings these two men together. Simon can’t have animals at home, his gran has allergies, but animals are the only things that make him feel calm. Jack is the first person Simon wants to be more than a ball of anxiety around. He finds himself feeling easy and comforted when he’s around Jack.

The steadily form a connection with every walk Simon takes Jack’s pets on. Their attraction grows the more they get to know each other. And their chemistry? Off the charts. Simon may live in a world full of anxiety, but with a few touches or well-timed words, Jack was able to Simon away from the overwhelming anxiety. He helped Simon feel free and he didn’t judge him.

Their romance, oh, it was intense. For someone who feels so deeply, it would only make sense that Simon would be as reactive as he was. Jack soaked in all that Simon had to offer, and wasn’t afraid to show him more.

They grew with each other, never leaving the other behind.

I could relate to both Simon and Jack. There is so much of my life that is ruled by anxiety that it’s hard to do what people find as ‘normal’. It made me crave finding someone like Jack who would understand. Maybe that’s why I loved their story as much as I did. Simon got his happy ending and made me feel like I could get mine as well.

 

To be released August 2020

 

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (Feminine Pursuits, #2)

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

When Agatha Griffin finds a colony of bees in her warehouse, it’s the not-so-perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week. Busy trying to keep her printing business afloat amidst rising taxes and the suppression of radical printers like her son, the last thing the widow wants is to be the victim of a thousand bees. But when a beautiful beekeeper arrives to take care of the pests, Agatha may be in danger of being stung by something far more dangerous…

Penelope Flood exists between two worlds in her small seaside town, the society of rich landowners and the tradesfolk. Soon, tensions boil over when the formerly exiled Queen arrives on England’s shores—and when Penelope’s long-absent husband returns to Melliton, she once again finds herself torn, between her burgeoning love for Agatha and her loyalty to the man who once gave her refuge.

As Penelope finally discovers her true place, Agatha must learn to accept the changing world in front of her. But will these longing hearts settle for a safe but stale existence or will they learn to fight for the future they most desire?

The Review

I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did. I expected it to be overly floral and reminiscent of the boddice rippers that you may have found your mother hiding away from prying eyes. Despite the cover, this was an elegant historical romance that made me want to go back and find the first novel in the series.

Agatha Griffin never expected to find a colony of bees in her warehouse, but the woman who would come to her rescue was just as surprising of a discovery. Penelope Flood, bee-keeper extraordinaire spends most of her time taking care of the beehives around town. She floats between the wealthy and the tradesmen.

Through beekeeping, Agatha and Penelope form a bond. Penelope’s letters originally intended to keep Agatha updated on her relocated bees, shifted into companionship. I love when authors include letters between characters. You get a clear picture of their voice, their sarcasm and sense of humor. It feels intimate and genuine.

I melted once they finally gave in to their feelings. I’ll say this, I was not expecting the romance scenes to be written how they were. They weren’t cheesy or unbelievable. These women together were passionate, insatiable, and exciting.

While they were finding themselves as a couple, they found themselves as individual women. Agatha had to be strong, business-minded, and needed to take care of everything around her, found her match with Penelope. Penelope, who had grown used to loneliness found a true companionship with Agatha.

*insert wistful sigh here*

This was a great read, despite the cover, and I hope to read more from Olivia Waite.

Get your copy here