Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Books are Rosie Taft’s life. And ever since she took over her mother’s beloved Manhattan bookstore, they’ve become her home too. The only thing missing is her own real-life romance like the ones she loves to read about, and Rosie has an idea of who she might like to sweep her off her feet. She’s struck up a flirty online friendship with lesbian romance author Brie, and what could be more romantic than falling in love with her favorite author?

Jane Breslin works hard to keep her professional and personal lives neatly separated. By day, she works for the family property development business. By night, she puts her steamier side on paper under her pen name: Brie. Jane hasn’t had much luck with her own love life, but her online connection with a loyal reader makes Jane wonder if she could be the one.

When Rosie learns that her bookstore’s lease has been terminated by Jane’s family’s business, romance moves to the back burner. Even though they’re at odds, there’s no denying the sparks that fly every time they’re together. When their online identities are revealed, will Jane be able to write her way to a happy ending, or is Rosie’s heart a closed book?

Review

This was such a fun read! If you are a fan of 90’s romantic comedy films, you are going to love Read Between the Lines. Lacey acknowledges the inspiration for this novel came from the classic rom-com, You’ve Got Mail. Lacey puts her twist on things to make them fresh, fun, and exciting.

Rosie Taft runs her family bookstore, and she loves it. Books, customers, connecting with people who love books as much as she does. Everything is threatened when Jane Breslin delivers notice her family’s company won’t be renewing the lease intending to demolish the building Between the Pages was housed in.

One bright spot in all of this is the fact Rosie can talk with her favorite author Brie online over Twitter.

Brie is a timid author who hides behind her penname and doesn’t make public appearances.

Life takes a wild turn when the world of Rosie, Brie, and Jane all crash together. No matter how angry Rosie gets with Jane, she can’t fight the attraction she feels towards Jane. Even with the turmoil of what it may mean for her business, Rosie finds her self drawn closer and closer to Jane.

Rosie is the sweetest and most determined character. Her enthusiasm for books made me excited to read again (this year hasn’t been my best reading year so to be excited about reading is huge). There were a few moments she irked my nerves, but I could understand her reactions.

Jane, I have a special place in my heart for Jane. As an author, who also writes under a pen name, I felt for her. She wants to please her family, but she wants to be a full-time author as well. She wants to help, but then she ends putting her foot in her mouth. A lot of people look down on romance authors, but this genre is such an amazing genre full of readers and authors who want to see the happiness of the world.

The chemistry between the two women, even when they were enemies, was intense. They were drawn to each other when they didn’t want to be. Which made their romance all the sweeter once it blossomed.

What I enjoyed about this, from both a reader’s and writer’s perspective, was the fact that we got to see their Twitter interactions. I’m a sucker for seeing letters, texts, emails in romance novels. You could feel the flirty undertones and the anxiety of their messages back and forth.   

 

Get your copy here!

Strength Check by Katherine McIntyre

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Roxie Esposito just opened a board game café in San Francisco and should be basking in success. Instead, she’s picking out shards from her last relationship and handling her perpetually drunk mother, both of which strain her finances and fuel the need for a roommate.

Melody Roberts finally got the promotion she’d been aiming for—across the country in San Francisco. The perfect escape from her stagnant life and the toxic relationship with her now ex-boyfriend.

The moment Mel answers Roxie’s ad for a roommate, the connection between them is explosive, warm, and real—everything they’ve both been longing for. Between horror movie marathons, board game nights, and deep talks, Mel and Roxie are falling for each other hard. Except the only problem with romance is they both seem to fail every single time, and when the grenade of exes, family drama, and their own insecurities drop, neither will escape unscathed.

The Review

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve reviewed any lesfic! Strength Check was the perfect read to get myself reacquainted. Geeky tabletop board games like Dungeons and Dragons and the found family and roommates to lovers trope? *chefs kiss*

Melody, ‘Mel’, Roberts moved across the country for her career and a fresh start away from the boundaries her ex-boyfriend put her in.

Roxie Esposito runs a board game café in San Francisco and has a string of bad relationships with a little bit of a financial strain sprinkled on top. So she does what she can, and runs an ad to rent out a room.

She gets lucky when Mel is who answers her ad. They immediately click with each other.

What I really liked about their relationship that it was rooted in friendship. They got to know each other organically. Mel wanted to learn more about Roxie’s café. She wanted to know more about the games and all of Roxie’s friends and employees are happy to teach her.

Their attraction burned slowly throughout the pages. When they finally kissed? Yes, please. They had intensity and passion and it simmered in the right ways.

I liked that there were characters I could fully relate to, in all their geeky glory. It’s hard finding a story you can find a little bit of yourself in each of the characters. It left me feeling at home, because these were my people.

Pre-Order Here – Releasing September 21

Playing it Safe by Amy Andrews

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Donovan Bane loves playing rugby for the Sydney Smoke. And if that means he has to keep his sexuality a secret, that’s a sacrifice he’s prepared to make. At least until after he retires, anyway. He doesn’t want to be the first pro rugby player in Australia to officially come out while still playing. The team doesn’t need the media shit storm and he’d rather be known for his footy skills. Which means no dating, no relationships, no sex. Nothing but playing ball.

Until one man suddenly changes everything…

Beckett Stanton is out and proud—and not looking for a guy who isn’t. Been there, done that, complete disaster. Unfortunately, on the first day of his new job working for the Sydney Smoke, he locks eyes with Donovan Bane and he’s a goner. Big, gruff, and athletic isn’t usually Beck’s type, but for some reason this man is ticking all his boxes. And it’s clear the feeling is mutual. It’s also clear that Donovan is not out, and doesn’t plan to be anytime soon. Still, Beck can’t resist being the man to show Donovan everything he’s been missing.

For the first time, Donovan doesn’t play it safe and allows himself to indulge in things with Beck he knows he can’t have. But when their relationship gets serious, he knows he has to choose between the career he loves and the man he loves, because how can he possibly have both?

The Review

Ya’ll know I’m a sucker for a good sports romance, right? Well, this one didn’t let me down. I think I’m finally coming out of my book funk.

Donovan has plays professional rugby for the Sydney Smoke. During his time with the team, he’s kept one of the most important aspects of himself a secret. His sexuality. He didn’t want to be the first player to come out and to face the media. It would be easier to face that challenge after retiring.

He didn’t account for Beckett Stanton.

Beckett doesn’t know much about rugby, but on his first day at work for the Sydney Smoke he knows he is immediately attracted to Donovan Bane. But he isn’t sure about being Donovan’s secret. The attraction keeps calling to him though. It’s hard to stay away from Donovan when he keeps showing up.

First things first, you don’t need to have read the previous books in the series to read this one. This is book 7 in the series and the first one I’ve read. Also, if you aren’t familiar with rugby, it’s not hard to follow.

The chemistry between Beckett and Donovan was intense from the get-go. They really couldn’t take their eyes off each other. They both had a lot going on and to consider, but once they made a decision, *fans self* Donovan was such an alpha-like character and to have him want to learn from Beckett? That’s my jam. I’d rate this a 🌶🌶.5 on the spicy scale.

I loved, loved, loved the fact Beckett watched Donovan play and how worked up that got him. I too have experienced that phenomenon and seeing it written into a book was pretty awesome.

I read this one over two nights and had fun reading it. 

To be released September 6th (my bday!!)

Hidden Powers – Tara Lain – DNF

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No Stars – DNF

Summary

Superordinary Society: Book One

Jazz Vanessen is weird—and not just because he’s a werewolf. For most of his life, he’s felt different from his alpha male brothers and friends. Since he’s adopted, he can’t even blame it on family.

Now eighteen, Jazz meets his idol, the social activist Lysandra Mason, and her breathtaking nephew, Dash Mercury. When Dash is around, even stranger things start to happen, including Jazz falling hopelessly in lust. Not only is Jazz having visions, making people disappear, and somehow turning invisible, but somebody’s following him and threatening to reveal his pack’s secrets to the world.

Together with Dash and Jazz’s equally amazing friends—Carla, BeBop, Khadija, and Fatima—they discover the danger is even more lethal than they thought, and Jazz’s weirdness may save all their lives.
 

Review

            I wanted to like this book. I did. LGBTQ+, YA, werewolves, and intrigue, are all excellent ingredients to an adventure I want to go on.

            My main issue is no knowing anything about the characters. If you hadn’t read any of the author’s other books, you’re going to be as lost as I was. As this was the ‘first’ in a new series, I didn’t think I’d be scrambling to figure out who all these people were. It’s a very established world and if you didn’t know that, you’d get frustrated like I did.

            I also had an issue with the language used. I’m not old by any means, I’m 30, and I read YA regularly across many genres. It was off putting to me. Not even in TV shows, do writers use that much ‘teen’ language.

            Will I be reading the next in the series? No. It just disappointed me entirely.

Give it a try if you’ve read previous books by this author, you may enjoy it.

Keeping Kellan by Amy Aislin

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3.5 Stars

Summary

Brant Harkrader is done living by other peoples’ rules. He may not know exactly what he wants out of life, but he’s perfectly happy letting that question figure itself out while starting a new job as a tour guide.

Too bad the one thing he does want—his sister’s BFF—only sees him as a little brother.

Or so he thinks…

Kellan Shelby-Briggs has never shied away from going after what he wants. And what he wants is the important contract that will put his brand new company on the map—and Brant.

Too bad Kellan’s career keeps yanking him away just as things heat up between them.

Now that Brant is back in town—up close and personal in Kell’s living space—can they finally get the timing right to go after the love that has eluded them both for too long

Review

Keeping Kellan is a falling for your sibling’s best friend story. I really liked that instead of falling for the brother’s best friend it was falling for the sister’s best friend.

Brant has moved back home, started a new job as a tour guide, and he isn’t sure what he actually wants to do with his life. He just knows it isn’t hockey.

Kellan is pursuing his career at full speed. He’s been burned at his previous company, and now he’s pushing to establish his company from the ground up.

Brant and Kellan have always been attracted to each other. They just thought a romantic relationship wasn’t ever going to happen. Now, they can’t seem to stay away from each other. The chemistry between them is intense. There are a lot of stolen looks and gentle touches. It’s the kind of romance that makes me all tingly.

Both men were extremely smart, and I liked seeing that. I could picture them lasting long-term, being able to match wit. They also supported each other in the work they did. They were equals.

This is a little bit of a fade to black romance, so the spicy level is a little lower. But it fit how Aislin wrote the story.  The focus, to me, was more on establishing their lives now that they were starting over. The romance came second. I do wish there had been a little more romance scenes, like dates (sex scenes are great, but not always needed).

This was a good addition to the series!

Buy your copy here

 

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

Come Away With Me by Rachel Lacey

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

A television star and a flight attendant walk into a bar…

Six months after a traumatic event left actress Piper Sheridan confined to her apartment with debilitating panic attacks, she’s determined to start living her life again. Motivated by an upcoming audition, she summons her courage and goes out for a drink, keeping her identity under wraps. It sounds simple enough, but nothing about going out in public is easy for Piper these days. And her hopes of going unnoticed are stymied by the bubbly blonde on the next barstool.

Flight attendant Chloe Carson is only in New York for the night, and she’s only looking for a little casual fun to go with her cocktail. The mysterious woman beside her isn’t fun, exactly…but she’s intriguing. And beautiful. Even without knowing her name, Chloe is drawn to her. When they share an unexpectedly intimate moment, Chloe knows this is a night she’ll never forget.

Can these two strangers turn a chance encounter into something lasting?

Review

I read this book in one sitting, that’s how good Come Away with Me, is. Do yourself a favor and snag this book up. Piper and Chloe, there was something so natural about them and their developing relationship. It was easy to get lost in the pages and forget time passing me by as I read. I had a movie playing in my mind as I read.

Piper Sheridan, an actress who is suffering from crippling anxiety after witnessing a horrible moment, starts living her life again. In slow steps from her therapist’s recommendation, she sets small goals for herself because she’s determined to land a career changing moving role.

She goes to the Dragonfly bar, identity hidden, and she bumps into flight attendant Chloe Carson. Chloe is kind, funny, and makes it easy for Piper to work through her anxiety. This chance encounter sparks a relationship between the two women.

I loved, loved, loved, the fact that Chloe was supportive of Piper. As someone who deals with anxiety every day, I could relate. Chloe encouraged Piper slowly, but she was there for her in the aftermath as well.

The attraction between the two women sparked from the first meeting and it was fun. The more the saw each other, the more intense it became. Their kisses? *fans self* Ooh boy, those kisses probably had my cheeks all flushed.

Even though distance kept them apart due to their work, they found a way to make their relationship work. I loved the fact that Piper traveled to North Carolina and met the people important to Chloe. I feel like we don’t get that enough in books and this just tickled me.

There were scenes that I felt like was there. Lacey’s writing put me on set with Piper and then working with Chloe to prepare another. I could see Chloe’s fixer upper in North Carolina, the airports, and Los Angeles.

To be released January 12, 2021

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

Party Favors by Erin Mclellan

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Three…

Amanda Ellis knows three things: she’s tired of doing what’s expected of her, she hates her job at her family’s business, and the last thing she wants to do is attend her parents’ boring New Year’s Eve ball with a date her mother picked. A few days of fun with her online best friend is exactly what she needs to ring in the New Year on her own terms.

Two…

Wren Rebello is impulsive and always ready for fun. A last-minute girls’ getaway sounds like the perfect way to spend New Year’s. But even Wren isn’t prepared for the spark of attraction she feels when she meets Amanda in person for the first time. Good thing Wren loves popping Amanda’s cork.

One…

After days spent sharing end-of-year resolutions and the one bed in their cottage, the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops on their time together. As Amanda and Wren go their separate ways, they leave new resolutions unfulfilled. Is there enough New Year’s magic left to turn their online friendship into real-life love?

Review

Amanda Ellis, heir to a disco ball empire, if finally meeting one of her best friends, Wren Rebello, in person. Amanda has always done what her parents expected of her. Date this person, do this job, and act this way. For the first time she is able to be herself with Wren.

As they spend the New Years together, Amanda finds herself inexplicably attracted to everything about Wren. They were a little awkward at first, and it took talking via text to break the ice between them, but once that ice broke? *fans self* … ya’ll .. they were scorching together. A large portion of this book focuses on their sexual relationship and exploration of that relationship. It made my heart beat quickly and my cheeks flush red. These two women together were intense!

Mixed in with all of the sex, was a relationship that grew leaps and bounds. Wren encouraged Amanda to be herself and to leave the disco ball heir title behind her. Amanda had a whole life outside of her family that she wanted, but she never had the courage to pursue it until she had friends who saw her vision and pushed her to follow her dreams.

This was a great New Years themed read that had quite a bit of spice!

Get your copy here