No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey

3 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She’s never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she’s starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother’s constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn’t have. But with her brother’s London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers—with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.

Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn’t looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie’s sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia’s adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.

Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well—spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they’re faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that’s meant to last?
 

 

The Review

A fake relationship for the weekend with someone you’ve never met face to face shouldn’t be that awkward of an experience. Right? In the second installment of Rachel Lacey’s Ms. Right series, Lia and Grace’s story unfolds.

            Lia has always heard about the mysterious Grace from her best friend Rosie. Yet, somehow, Grace has always conveniently dipped out of any obligations that would have allowed them to meet. Attending a wedding in London is the perfect opportunity for the pair to meet face to face and see. Lia grabs the chance to meet Rosie’s ‘best friend’ who lives in the UK.

            Lia wasn’t expecting to like Grace as much as she does. Grace is everything she wants in a partner. She’s fun, smart, gorgeous, and keeps Lia on her toes in the best way. It’s an impulsive move, but when the opportunity presents itself for Grace to come to New York, Lia offers to accompany her on a road trip.

            Feelings and lines get blurred. Lia wants everything she can have with Grace. Grace only wants right now. She doesn’t do relationships and can’t give that to Lia. She’s upfront about that, which was nice, but she was so stubborn.

            I loved each of their stops on the road trip. It was exactly the kind of trip I wanted to take and to go on with my partner. My favorite was the T-Rex moment. It just warmed my nerdy heart. And immediately went on my to-do list with my partner. The flirtation, kisses, and spice between them was excellent. There were a few times my heart fluttered and I let out a happy little sigh.

            Grace was a frustrating character. I just … I’m trying to put it into words without spoiling anything for ya’ll, but there were a few times I skimmed Grace heavy scenes. She irked my nerves.

            I do have to say, the ending really pulled everything all together for me and I was definitely happy with how their story ended up.

Get your copy here

Too Much Man by Katy James

3.5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Summary

A grumpy former hockey player and a bisexual coffee-shop owner refuse to commit—to themselves or each other—in this fun, flirty debut.

Piper Welborn has created a warm, welcoming space for all in her queer-inclusive coffee shop, even if the long hours came at the cost of her love life. But she’s not ready to welcome one man in particular—a grumpy, muscular former hockey player. His smoldering presence is a temptation and a challenge to her long-standing vow not to date cis men.

Gavin Williams has no business starting a relationship, least of all with a woman he’s not sure even likes him. He can’t resist the Friendly Bean’s hot, pink-haired owner, but a casual fling is all he can commit to. He’s hoping to leave town for the next stage in his career…if he ever gets the call with the job offer.

A friends-with-benefits arrangement is perfect for them both—but neither is ready for the feelings that hit. When the post-hockey life Gavin always dreamed of is suddenly within his grasp, they’ll both have to make a choice: hold tight to what they thought life should look like, or work together to build something new.

 

Review

I haven’t had much in the way of bisexual representation here and it’s time I remedy that. Too Much Man by Katy James was a great book to review. It addressed issues that I have dealt with and could relate to. James has put everything I’ve felt into words that I had a hard time putting into words.

I’m not sure I can avoid spoilers, so here’s your warning!

Piper, a bisexual, coffee house owner. Piper offers up her coffee as a coffee house as the location for a charity event for the area hockey team. She is tasked with making sure the players can serve coffee as well as make sure the winners have a great time.

That is a very small aspect of the story, but it’s how she ends up meeting a very angry Gavin Williams who is still healing from a devastating injury. He’s in pain and unsure of his future. I’d be grumpy too.

Piper fights against her attraction to Gavin. She’s made a promise to herself as a bisexual woman she was done with men. The queer community is where she feels most at home and whenever she is with a man, it’s almost like a party trick, her liking women. She feels excluded from the community whenever she dates a man.

I felt that so much. Personal information time, I’m Demi. My attraction tends to lean more towards women, but I’ve been in a relationship with a man the past year and there are times I feel like I’m not who I’ve thought I’ve been my entire life. That people will claim all those dates and relationships were a phase. Spoiler alert, they weren’t. But it just felt good knowing I wasn’t alone in that feeling.

Piper bargains with herself. She can have a friend with benefits relationship with Gavin. He’s leaving, there’s an expiration date on it. There won’t be any feelings and when he’s gone, she’ll move on. Easy as that. Right?

It’s never as easy as that.

Now I will fully admit, I can’t give a rating to the spiciness. I was more focused on the emotional journey that both Piper and Gavin went on as they learn who they truly are as individuals and what they want in life.

The beginning was a little slow for me. At times I got irritated with the pair of them, but overall I enjoyed reading this. The secondary characters weren’t memorable. Which I feel terrible for saying, but I was so focused on Piper and Gavin.

Get your copy here

Hard Sell by Hudson Lin

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

One night wasn’t enough.

Danny Yip walks into every boardroom with a plan. His plan for struggling tech company WesTec is to acquire it, shut it down, and squeeze the last remaining revenue out of it for his Jade Harbour Capital portfolio. But he didn’t expect his best friend’s younger brother—the hottest one-night stand he ever had—to be there.

Tobin Lok has always thought the world of Danny. He’s funny, warm, attractive—and totally out of Tobin’s league. Now, pitted against Danny at work, Tobin might finally get a chance to prove he’s more than just Wei’s little brother.

It takes a lot to get under Danny’s skin, but Tobin is all grown up in a way Danny can’t ignore. Now, with a promising patent on the line and the stakes higher than ever, all he can think about is getting Tobin back into his bed—and into his life for good.

If only explaining their relationship to Wei could be so easy…

Review

There are some mixed reviews on this Hard Sell by Hudson Lin, but I enjoyed this one. There were a few things that I didn’t like, that irritated me a bit. But that’s normal for me. I’m an emotional reader. I think the corporate setting, mixed with a long-distance relationship was something I could easily relate to.

            First, let’s get to the tropes. Brother’s best friend, long-distance, workplace relationship, second chance romance. I’m ALL about these tropes.

            Tobin and Danny were electric when they could get their act together. There were a few romance scenes, a couple of stolen moments. I wish they were a little spicier.

            Tobin had to fight hard to get out of the brother’s best friend role and establish himself as an individual. He made sure that he made his own way from college onwards. He worked hard to become the man he is today. It irked my nerves, unbelievably so, when everyone just acted like he was still a teenager.

            Danny, while older, acted more like a kid. Instead of communicating, he acted in secret. When he could have up front said, “this is for a job, but you should come with me” instead of pretending it was just for fun.

Get your copy here

Season’s Change by Cait Nary

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3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

Olly Järvinen has a long way to go. He’s got a fresh start playing for a new team, but getting his hockey career back on track is going to take more than a change of scenery. He’s got to shut his past out and focus. On the game, not on his rookie roommate and his annoyingly sunny disposition—and annoyingly distracting good looks.

All Benji Bryzinski ever wanted was to play in the big leagues, and he’s not going to waste one single second of his rookie season. Yoga, kale smoothies and guided meditation help keep his head in the game. But his roommate keeps knocking him off track. Maybe it’s just that Olly is a grumpy bastard. Or maybe it’s something else, something Benji doesn’t have a name for yet.

Olly and Benji spend all their time together—on the ice, in the locker room, in their apartment—and ignoring their unspoken feelings isn’t making them go away. Acting on attraction is one thing, but turning a season’s fling into forever would mean facing the past—and redefining the future.

The Review

            Ya’ll know I love my sports romances. Especially, hockey. So, it hurts me to say this one, was a little difficult for me to get into.

            I think it was more the presentation of the material than the actual storyline. The story was good. There were too many page breaks and not enough transition from scene to scene that I got lost a couple of times. There were a lot of shifts in time that weren’t entirely clear.

            There were aspects about Olly that I think the reader was supposed to infer but later it’s finally spelled out. I’m not a fan of that in writing. I need to understand why a character acts the way they do for me to connect to them better. I didn’t connect as much with Olly and Benji as I usually do with characters.  

            On to the actual story.

            Olly is a bit of a jaded, veteran hockey player. He’s got a lot of issues that impact how he plays on his new team and you can see it in how he plays the game now. Benji is the bright-eyed, excited rookie. He is himself, no matter what anyone else (Olly) may think about his yoga, meditation, and kale smoothies. I like that about Benji. Even if he was pretty clueless at times lol.

            Olly and Benji are a good balance of each other. There is a push/pull kind of relationship that developed between the two men. Benji doesn’t back down when Olly is his angry, grumpy self. Olly listens to some of the things that Benji talks about, like yoga and meditation.

            I was very surprised when Olly and Benji participated in a … spoiler alert …. I’ll let your mind do the running or you can check my tags. I just, don’t feel like Olly would have done that no matter what. Benji? Yes, one hundred percent. That I could see happening.  

            I wanted more affection between the pair. I wanted more tender moments of actualization. I wanted more romance.

            This was definitely a story that focused more on Olly coming to terms with who he is as an individual and as a hockey player on a new team. It got a bit angsty at times, but that was an emotion called for in this storyline.

 

Get your copy here

Winter of the Owl by Iris Foxglove

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary: 

Sava has the best house in all of Lukos. He built it himself, dreaming of the day when he and Milan, the man he loved, could live there and brave the harsh winters of Lukos together—only to be devastated when Milan was found dead in the spring. Fraught with grief, Sava resigns himself to spending his winters alone.

Then a stranger appears on his doorstep, and everything changes.

Victor is a scholar from Gerakia, a land known for its long summers and vibrant history, and he has never been more unprepared in his life. Abandoned on the inhospitable island of Lukos after a disastrous relationship, Victor has to adapt quickly to survive. It helps, of course, that he’s taken in by Sava, who has the biggest heart of any man Victor has ever known. Victor and Sava start to make a home together, growing close as snow falls outside, but the true danger of a Lukos winter is closer than they suspect…
 

Review

So many tropes in this one! Forced proximity, opposites attract, share one bed, snowed in, strangers to lovers, chosen family.

My heart broke for Victor in the beginning. I had a legitimate what the actually fuck? kind of moment. He’s such a bright character and to see someone so willingly just throw that away? Oh it hurt my heart. I was so glad to see he landed somewhere like Lukos.

In an island of exiles, Victor found something beautiful, a home.

Sava had been living his winters alone since the loss of Milan. He has steadily been building a home that would be fit for a mate. Sava has got to be the kindest soul out there. He’s definitely something you would look for in a partner, no matter what world you live in.

There were light BDSM tones. In this world there are dominates and submissives, but it’s not on the extreme end of the spectrum. While there are the traditional roles, Sava and Victor didn’t hold stead fast to them. Victor was very much the scholar, not the best at the home tasks. I found that adorable, seeing Sava step in and explain and teach things to Victor. He did it in a way that was not at all condescending towards Victor. You could tell they cared about each other.

The romance scenes between the two of them weren’t so steamy. You can definitely feel the chemistry between the pair. There were some great kisses between the pair. If you’re looking for something extremely graphic, you definitely won’t get that here.

The suspense or conflict in this was an easy one for me to figure out. I had that figured out pretty early on, but I kept reading because I loved Victor and Sava’s interactions. I knew there was a lot of their relationship I wanted to read about.

Overall, did I enjoy this? Oh yes. Will I read future books in the series? Yes. I needed the fantasy fix and there were so many tropes in this that had mee excited.

Get your copy here

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