eARC Review – The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

56898248

Title: The Charm Offensive

Author: Alison Cochrun

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication date: September 7th, 2021

368 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.

Review

I immediately fell in love with Dev and Charlie when reading The Charm Offensive – romance fans, Bachelor Nation fans, and m/m romance fans need to read this book ASAP. There is not only a lot of queer rep, but it’s diverse in terms of race, neurodivergence, and mental health. The depictions of each are amazing, though there are moments of homophobia so there’s a trigger warning for that.

Dev is a producer on Ever After (the Bachelor but in fiction) and Charlie is the newest “Prince” who is trying to recover his image after having a breakdown during a board meeting of his tech company. Dev is assigned to handle Charlie, as Charlie has a panic disorder and OCD (though this isn’t known immediately) and is having a difficult time on a show that triggers his mental illnesses. Over the book, Dev and Charlie get closer and have to confront their feelings for each other before it’s too late.

I actually swooned reading this book at times, the romance is SO well done and well written. I flew through it without noticing time passing, it was fast paced and had a lot of information packed in without it feeling overwhelming. I related to Dev so much with his struggle with depression, the depiction is exactly how I feel when in an episode and it was handled amazingly. Every character was fantastic (except the “villain”, but obvi) and I wanted to give all of them hugs throughout the whole book.

Seriously, read this book. I have nothing even remotely shaped like a critique to give to this book, it is a clear 5 star read and was from the very beginning.

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn

48668838

Title: Never Saw You Coming

Author: Erin Hahn

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: September 7th, 2021

320 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Raised by conservative parents, 18-year-old Meg Hennessey just found out her entire childhood was a lie. Instead of taking a gap year before college to find herself, she ends up traveling north to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed.

While there, she meets Micah Allen, a former pastor’s kid whose dad ended up in prison, leaving Micah with his own complicated relationship about the church. The clock is ticking on Pastor Allen’s probation hearing and Micah, now 19, feels the pressure to forgive – even when he can’t possibly forget.

As Meg and Micah grow closer, they are confronted with the heavy flutterings of first love and all the complications it brings. Together, they must navigate the sometimes-painful process of cutting ties with childhood beliefs as they build toward something truer and straight from the heart.

In Erin Hahn’s Never Saw You Coming, sometimes it takes a leap of faith to find yourself. 

Review

Erin Hahn is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. Her books have so much heart and emotion to them, in such an effortless way. Time slips by as I read her books and I don’t notice it at all, it is fully captivating and the writing is just beautiful.

Never Saw You Coming features Meg’s story as she comes to grips with new information about her parentage. She goes through a religious journey to understand how she really feels now that she knows she was conceived on a one night stand at a youth group convention in Michigan and her father died in a car crash. Micah is dealing with the after effects of his pastor father’s embezzling and sexual harassment charges. Together, the two help and support each other in their lives and faith.

I personally loved the religious journey depicted in this story. I found it very relatable as someone who grew up in a Catholic household. It also calls out some of the hypocrisy within the Christian church and how it treats women. The romance was perfect – absolutely perfect. Together they were super sweet and supportive of each other as they figured out their plans. Also, the side characters truly added to the story in a meaningful way.

I will always read Erin Hahn’s books from now until the end of time and will always suggest everyone else reads the too.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

September TBR – 2021 Edition

I have another great month of reading planned, with a return to audiobooks and a lot of Netgalley ARCs getting accomplished. I have always had a difficult time with auditory processing, in school it was hard to learn just from auditory stimulus and what I’ve tried audiobooks in the past it hasn’t worked out. But, I decided to try romance books in audio instead of romance, and so far it has worked pretty well. Fantasy worlds are just too complex but I’m excited to be able to read while doing chores and driving to work and exercising.

I have a pretty aggressive amount of books to read this month, but this is mostly due to the fact that I am going on three weekend trips with a LOT of driving in the month so I will have more opportunity to read. We’re going to Pittsburgh, Erie, Pittsburgh again, and then New York. My husband loves to drive, so I really just read the whole time!

So, below are the books I plan to read this month 🙂

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. Warmaidens (Gravemaidens #2), Kelly Coon
  2. Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1), Shelby Mahurin
  3. The Bone Charmer (The Bone Charmer #1), Breeana Shields
  4. The Heir Affair (Royal We #2), Heather Cocks
  5. The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient #3), Helen Hoang
  6. The Dark Tide, Alicia Jasinska
  7. We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2), Hafsah Faizal
  8. The Bronzed Beasts (The Gilded Serpent #3), Roshani Chokshi

EBOOKS

  1. Isn’t it Bromantic (Bromance Book Club #4), Lyssy Kay Adams
  2. Twisted Kingdom (Royal Elite #3), Rina Kent
  3. The Royal We (The Royal We #1), Heather Cocks
  4. Black Knight (Royal Elite #4), Rina Kent
  5. Neon Gods (Dark Olympus #1), Katee Robert

AUDIO

  1. The Boy Toy, Nicola Marsh
  2. Majesty (American Royals #2), Katharine McGee

ARCS

  1. Will They, Won’t They, Portia MacIntosh
  2. Witch Please (Fix-It Witches #1), Ann Aguirre
  3. A Spot of Trouble, Teri Wilson
  4. Her Perfect Life, Hank Phillippi Ryan
  5. Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1), Xiran Jay Zhao
  6. Eight Perfect Hours, Lia Louis
  7. Luminous, Mara Rutherford
  8. Mother of All (Women’s War #3), Jenna Glass
  9. Once More Upon a Time, Roshani Chokshi
  10. Vespertine, Margaret Rogerson
  11. The Gilded Cage (The Prison Healer #2), Lynette Noni
  12. Bright, Ruined Things, Samantha Cohoe

Happy reading, folks!

August Wrap Up – 2021 Edition

Happy September everybody! August slipped away like a bottle of wine…

And if you get that reference you’re my new best friend :). I had a good reading month all things considered. I finished 21 books and a lot of them were ARCs that I needed to get to for Netgalley and Edelweiss. I still have a lot of work to do on my Netgalley shelf but I am going into September triumphant and motivated to keep working at it and gaining ground on it. I have a LOT of book planned for September, which you’ll be able to see tomorrow when I post my September TBR post!

Another highlight to this month was several 5 star reads, I did a buddy read with a good friend on Instagram, and I moved into the dark romance genre and lost A LOT of sleep when that happened! But I can’t say I have regrets, I just need to consume those books on a limited basis otherwise I’ll never sleep – because they’re addicting!

So, see below for the books I finished in the month of August. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these and if we agree on the stars given!

PHYSICAL

  1. Head Over Heels, Hannah Orenstein – 4/5 stars (REREAD)
  2. Wings of Shadow (Crown of Feathers #3), Nicki Pau Preto – 5/5 stars
  3. Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes #7), Nancy Springer – 3.5/5 stars

EBOOKS

  1. Freed (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian Grey #3), E. L. James – 3/5 stars
  2. Hard Truths (Kiss Her Goodbye #1), Rebecca Royce – 4/5 stars
  3. Dark Truths (Kiss Her Goodbye #2), Rebecca Royce – 4/5 stars
  4. Deadly Truths (Kiss Her Goodbye #3), Rebecca Royce – 4/5 stars
  5. Deviant King (Royal Elite #1), Rina Kent – 3/5 stars
  6. Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2), Rina Kent – 3/5 stars

ARCS

  1. The Dating Dare (A Sweet Mess #2), Jayci Lee – 4/5 stars
  2. The Dating Playbook (The Boyfriend Project #2), Farrah Rochon – 4/5 stars
  3. The Endless Skies, Shannon Price – 3/5 stars
  4. The Mismatch, Sara Jafari – 3/5 stars
  5. Every Day in December, Kitty Wilson – 3/5 stars
  6. Daughter of Lies and Ruin (The Tales of the Blackbone Witches #2), Jo Spurrier – 4/5 stars
  7. Hot Desk, Zara Stoneley – 2/5 stars
  8. Never Saw You Coming, Erin Hahn – 5/5 stars
  9. The Charm Offensive, Alison Cochrun – 5/5 stars
  10. Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1), Brigid Kemmerer – 5/5 stars
  11. As If On Cue, Marisa Kanter – 4/5 stars
  12. When Sparks Fly, Helena Hunting – 3.5/5 stars

Happy reading, folks!

August Haul – 2021 Edition

August was a great month for acquiring books, especially from publishers! I have to thank Wednesday Books and Grand Central Publishing/Forever for the SIX books they sent my way this month! I’m so stoked to read them (and might have already read one of them!). I also obtained some sequels that I’ve been anticipating that my husband paid for, so the only books I personally bought were my Book of the Month books and Owlcrate subscription!

I’m so thankful to my followers here and on Instagram that allow me to keep reading and sharing my love with others in the bookish community. August may be ending but I’m so excited to see what books come my way by the end of the year!

See below for the books I got this month!

PUBLISHERS

  1. Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes #7), Nancy Springers
  2. Satisfaction Guaranteed, Karelia Stetz-Waters
  3. When A Rogue Meets His Match (Greycourt #2), Elizabeth Hoyt
  4. West End Earl (Misfits of Mayfair #2), Bethany Bennett
  5. One Lucky Day, Jill Shalvis
  6. A Rogue to Remember (League of Scoundrels #1), Emily Sullivan

SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

  1. You’d Be Mine, Erin Hahn
  2. The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient #3), Helen Hoang
  3. This Poison Heart (This Poison Heart #1), Kalynn Bayron

BARNES AND NOBLE

  1. Gods & Monsters (Serpent & Dove #3), Shelby Mahurin
  2. Reaper of Souls (Kingdom of Souls #2), Rena Barron

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

51164758

Title: A Sweet Mess (A Sweet Mess #1)

Author: Jayci Lee

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication date: July 14th, 2020

306 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Korean-American author Jayci Lee delights with this delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Bake a chance on love.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see her gorgeous Korean unicorn again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.

Review

“People say when something you enjoy becomes your full-time job, the joy gets sucked out of it.”

Jayci Lee, A Sweet Mess

I picked this romance up when I received an eARC of the companion novel, The Dating Dare, from Netgalley. It had been on my TBR, but vaulted to the top with the advanced copy of the next one. I have read a lot of romances involving bakers or chefs recently, and they were also with AAPI characters – which is super interesting. I was really enjoying this book until the end and the final conflict, there was just a trope utilized for the final conflict that is not one I vibe with or enjoy. But that’s on me, and doesn’t mean I don’t suggest you pick this one up if you want to.

There is an insta-love feel to the book as Aubrey and Landon meet at the local brewery and have an immediate connection that has them falling into bed together, knowing it is just for one night and they likely wouldn’t see each other again. But Landon is the premier food critic in California and he inadvertently, and unknowingly, was served a bizarre special request kid’s birthday cake when he stopped into Aubrey’s bakery on a whim. He then writes a scathing article about the experience, not knowing the owner was the woman he slept with. When Aubrey’s business takes a huge hit due to the article, and Landon finds out it was her, he does everything he can to make it up to her – by getting her a spot on a huge cooking show. They end up spending a lot of time together and realize their connection is more than just the one night.

Again, my main issue with this book, which took it down 2 stars, is the trope used to end the book. So, I generally wasn’t a fan of the last 25% of the book. But, it wasn’t due to the writing or the overall plot. So I still highly recommend this book – but if you’re interested in knowing the trope that I don’t like, I’m happy to tell you.

Happy reading, folks!

ARC Review – Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer

56869117. sy475

Title: Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes #7)

Author: Nancy Springer

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: August 31st, 2021

272 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Review

I haven’t read any of the previous Enola books, and my understanding is there hasn’t been a new one in about a decade but with the success of the Netflix adaptation there was cause for a return to the series. But, this book could definitely be read as a standalone, and there is plenty of time spent recapping the first 6 books in a foreword narrated by Sherlock instead of Enola, whereas the rest of the book is from Enola’s POV.

I loved books like Nancy Drew and other mystery middle grade books when I was younger, I just feel like my tastes have changed since then and I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of this as I had hoped to. It felt very solidly middle-grade, which isn’t a problem – it’s just not my preferred genre anymore. I will say the second half was a lot more interesting than the first half. Once the mystery really was getting going and the investigation was picking up steam, so did my interest in the book. The set up of the story really didn’t do it for me though.

I love that there is a series about a young woman performing this role of investigator, especially in the time period it is set in. It is something that young girls should be able to read and see themselves in, and I really appreciate that about the series. I’m not sure I would personally continue reading more or go back and read the books I missed, though the length makes the idea more palatable. It really was a quick read.

If you loved the Netflix adaptation and enjoy middle grade, I would recommend checking this one out.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

54360539

Title: Accidentally Engaged

Author: Farah Heron

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: March 2nd, 2021

357 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

Review

Accidentally Engaged follows Reena and Nadim, two Muslims living in Canada, who are expected by their parents to get engaged. Reena has absolutely no intention of doing that, she does not have a love life but does not have a good relationship with her parents to allow that to happen. No matter how attractive Nadim is, or how much he loves her bread making, or how he lives across the hall from her…

I love reading romances from cultures that aren’t mine to experience the differences. As I am not Muslim, I cannot speak to the representation accuracy – but knowing Farah Heron is a Muslim writer I feel confident that the story is Own Voices and is a good representation. Also, this book absolutely made me want to learn how to make bread from scratch and do it all the time. I still haven’t done that – but I still might do it!! I would definitely also name my sourdough starter with no shame.

There is a lot of themes about family and acceptance in the book as well, Reena goes through a lot of growth with her relationship with her family members throughout the book. Whereas I think the ending wasn’t congruent with the rest of the story, it really did allow Reena to make strides with her family.

Definitely a solid read, and it is my first from Farah Heron but I would read others. It wasn’t completely memorable for me, especially when it comes to the side characters. I normally like side characters to have more attention and their own story lines and I didn’t feel that was as much the case in this book.

Happy reading folks!

eARC Review – Hot Desk by Zara Stoneley

58145341. sy475

Title: Hot Desk

Author: Zara Stoneley

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: August 31st, 2021

2/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

TW: contains references to life after the Covid pandemic

Same desk, different days.A post-it note is just the beginning…

A must read for fans of Beth O’Leary, Mhairi McFarlane and Sophie Kinsella!

Alice loves her job and wants to keep it – whatever the price. But then she’s told the company is switching to flexible working and hot desking…Alice’s desk might look a mess, but she knows exactly where everything is. Or she did. Until she found out she’s going to share it with the most annoying guy in the office.
 
Jamie can work from anywhere. He’s quite happy to sweep his work life into a box at the end of the working day. But can sharing a desk with Alice be as much fun as teasing her in person?
 
With no option but to try it and see, will their relationship turn into open warfare or will it ever progress beyond a post-it note?

Review

Hot Desk is set in England and is a second chance romance when two people who shared a kiss in college end up working together and sharing a desk when the company needs to downsize. Alice and Jamie start to share notes and become closer, and Jamie helps Alice when an ex begins to be aggressive with her. There are some themes of family included as well.

This book was not for me. I read a similar romance before & loved it, but the writing in this book was not for me. Most of the book was Alice’s internal monologue rambling and going back and forth in time with no rhyme or reason. I didn’t find the romance to be at all engaging and the miscommunication between the two was excessive.

I wanted to like this book, but the writing really stopped that from happening for me. Not to say there isn’t an audience for this writing style and book, it’s just not me. If the summary sounds intriguing, I say read it and ignore my review – everyone should form their own opinions and has their own preferences.

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Every Day in December by Kitty Wilson

58534086

Title: Every Day in December

Author: Kitty Wilson

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: August 20th, 2021

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Two people. One month to fall in love.

Belle Wilde loves December. Yes, she’s just lost her job and Christmas is not a good time to find yourself ‘financially challenged’. And yes, her parents are still going on about the fact that she really should have it all together by now. But Belle believes that in December, magic can happen.

Rory Walters hates December. Whilst it looks like his life is together, he’s still reeling from a winter’s night five years ago when his life changed forever. Now back at home, he’s certain that this will be yet another Christmas to endure rather than enjoy.

But as midnight on December 31st draws closer, Belle and Rory’s time together is coming to an end. With a little help from a Christmas miracle could Belle find the one thing she really wants underneath the mistletoe?

Review

Every Day in December is a friends to lovers, almost second chance romance set in England at Christmas time. Rory is back in town to visit his mom as she has surgery for breast cancer and runs into Belle, a friend from college. Belle is newly unemployed, treated terribly by her family, and in need of a friend. Rory helps her out with work and they begin to spend more time together. But both of them have a lot of baggage to unpack and need each other’s help to heal.

I found this one to be engaging and really gave you characters to root for. Belle and Rory both had a lot of character development through the story and worked hard to get to where they were at the end. They both had family issues to work through, and I felt it was handled really well. I think the plot itself is what was engaging, not necessarily the writing though.

I don’t read a lot of Christmas books, no matter the time of year, but I did enjoy this one as Belle was trying to sell Rory on the concept of Christmas and Christmas activities. I thought it was a cute twist to the normal plot of Christmas books. I would have loved more at the end of this book to really wrap everything up.

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!