Monday, February 28, 2022

REVIEW: On the Honey Side by Staci Hart


This series has been such a bright light in some rather sobering times and each book seems to come at just the time when I need it the most. While each novel has the Staci Hart experience: humor + romance, they each have their own thing that makes them stand on their own. In On the Honey Side, the characters, Daisy and Keaton, have got to be two of the most deserving of a happily ever after. Both of them have had up close and personal experiences with loss and grief and they each have quietly taken on shouldering family responsibilities without an expectation, or seemingly a desire, for anyone else in the family to take them on. They're genuinely good people, trying to do good things for others, and generally putting themselves last. Thankfully, their siblings provide little nudges and dropped hints, and with a little of Daisy's quiet boldness, the sparks of their romance, quickly develop into flames. I liked that Daisy was more of the pursuer; it fit their narrative nicely. I also really liked that the major conflict that caused the strife and tension wasn't something between them but something outside of them.

This was exactly the sweet romcom that I needed and it has me looking forward to what will happen next, not only with Poppy, but with this small tightknit community. 

No one can ever have Keaton Meyer.
Least of all me.
The brooding construction manager is a man of myth and legend, rarely seen in the wild. Once upon a time, he was the star quarterback, the smiling homecoming king, royalty in our small town. Until tragedy struck. And then he disappeared completely.
Now he’s resurfaced, and I can’t keep my eyes off him.
He’s an island surrounded by lava, bound by a desert and guarded by dragons. I don’t stand a sunshine’s chance in a hail storm.
Our siblings disagree and are out to prove it, nudging us into each other in the hopes we’ll fall. But with our town in tumult and the two of us firmly in the middle, nothing between us is easy. And when he’s faced with an impossible decision, I learn the truth of what I already knew.
No one can have Keaton Meyer.
And I have the broken heart to prove it.

On the Honey Side by Staci Hart, a brand new grump sunshine, rom-com, is available NOW! This new release is the perfect weekend binge. Grab your copy today, available now on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon | Goodreads

"On the Honey Side is as heartwarming as it is hilarious. It blends the humor of matchmaking with the heat of a slow burn for a cocktail I can't resist and will beg for time and time again. Sweet, touching, and subtly steamy, it was the perfect romantic comedy to get lost in at the end of a hectic day. An easy five-star and must read of 2022!" - bestselling author Kandi Steiner

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Friday, February 25, 2022

REVIEW: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston



After reading Red, White & Royal Blue, I knew that I would be picking up whatever Casey McQuiston wrote next. One Last Stop was nothing like I expected it to be and I love that it surprised me. I really enjoyed the character of August. I liked her growth and her love story; I especially loved her roommates and that they became more like her family as the novel progressed. They were all so wonderfully unique and interesting, but most of all, they were loving and wonderful to and for August. Then there's Jane. Her whole story was also quite interesting and unlike anything I've read before (as far as the being stuck on the subway part went). While she wasn't our main POV, I found her interactions with August sweet and intriguing and I thought she was perfect for August.

I can't leave this review without commenting on how wonderful it was to read someone do Nola justice. So many times writers mix things up or just don't quite get it right, so it was cool to see all of the landmarks and understandings of the city and her history done correctly. I had no idea that Casey McQuiston was from my area, which explains it all and makes me hopeful that maybe one day they'll set an entire novel here.



For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s 
One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

REVIEW: The Good Girl's Guides to Rakes by Eva Leigh



I first came across Eva Leigh's historical romances in an anthology last year, so when I had the chance to try a full length novel of hers, I took it. 

In The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes, our two main characters Celeste and Kieran find themselves in a predicament. Celeste has been "promised" to a perfectly nice titled gentleman who she feels nothing for. It seems that while she's resigned to having to marry this man (to maintain her family's standing in society because her brother really mucked things up), she'd much rather not. Meanwhile, Kieran's family has had enough of his (and his brother's and Celeste's brother's) shenanigans and has threatened to withhold all funding if he (and his counterparts) don't find a "good girl" in society to marry. Unfortunately for Kieran, his reputation is one of a rake and a rogue and unless he can turn that around, there will be no marriage for him. Enter Celeste. They come up with a plan that is truly what makes the novel sing, in my opinion. 

It's the plan to reinvent Kieran's reputation and to give Celeste some life experience before she settles down that made this novel stand out. Their extracurricular adventures and the inevitable falling in love that comes with it were interesting and entertaining. I enjoyed everything leading up to the inevitable conflict and the unexpected resolution to it all. I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of this crew finds their 'good society girls'; if this novel is any indication, I know there will be fun reading times ahead. 



When Kieran Ransome’s latest antics result in a massive scandal, his father issues an ultimatum: find a respectable wife or inherit nothing. But as one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels, Kieran doesn’t know any ladies who fit the bill. Or does he?

Celeste Kilburn is a society darling, beloved by influential members of the ton. But keeping a spotless reputation leaves little room for adventure and she longs to escape her gilded cage, especially with her impending engagement to a stuffy earl. When Kieran—her older brother’s best friend and an irresistibly attractive rogue—begs for her help, Celeste makes a deal: she’ll introduce him to the right social circles if he’ll show her the scandalous side of London.

In between proper teas and garden parties, Kieran escorts Celeste—disguised as “Salome”—to rowdy gaming hells, wild fĂȘtes, and sensual art salons. As they spend more time together, their initial attraction builds to a desperate desire that neither can ignore. But when someone discovers their midnight exploits, Celeste’s freedom and reputation are endangered, and Kieran must save the woman he loves… respectable or not.  

Monday, February 21, 2022

REVIEW: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata


Honestly, it's been years and years since I've read a novel by Mariana Zapata--not for any particular reason other than life happens so when Under Locke came across my timeline and it was crazy on sale, I bought it and quickly remembered why I enjoyed her previous novels. I truly think she's got to be one of the queens of the s-l-o-w b-u-r-n. I mean seriously. She gives us these two characters-Locke and Iris-and continues to throw them together. Builds all the tension. Drops all of the hints that things are happening, despite one of the characters being clueless. And just lets us simmer and simmer until BAM! They finally explode and it's glorious. 

The premise is probably not all that innovative--there's a motorcycle club, a money situation, threats, violence, and danger--so it's really the characters and their reactions to things that drive you to keep turning pages. You want to see the resolution of the drama, the resolution of family matters, and an idea of how Locke and Iris will make it all work and you get all of that in a way that can be torturous in the slow burn but soooo satisfactory too.

This may be an oldy, but Under Locke is definitely a goody. 



He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a Widow, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario if things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before, one more wouldn’t kill me.


After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly... even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.

And the last thing they ever expected was each other.

But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.

… she should have chosen the strip club.


“Babe, I’ve handpicked everythin’ and everyone in here. I know what I want and I get what I want,” he breathed. “And I keep what’s mine.”

Friday, February 18, 2022

REVIEW: Taking the Leap by Kristen Ashley

He was made for her, all she had to do was take the leap…

Taking the Leap, the all-new beautiful and emotional contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author Kristen Ashley, is available now!
Read on for a peek inside this incredible love story.

Alexandra Sharp has been crushing on her co-worker, John “Rix” Hendrix for years. He’s her perfect man, she knows it.

She’s just not his perfect woman, and she knows that too.

Then Rix gives Alex a hint that maybe there’s a spark between them that, if she takes the leap, she might be able to fan into a flame This leads to a crash and burn, and that’s all shy Alex needs to catch the hint never to take the risk again.

However, with undeniable timing, Rix’s ex, who broke his heart, and Alex’s family, who spent her lifetime breaking hers, rear their heads, gearing up to offer more drama. With the help of some matchmaking friends, Rix and Alex decide to face the onslaught together…

As a fake couple.


Taking the Leap is next novel in the River Rain series and it's one I've been very interested in reading. The sneak peek at the end of Chasing Serenity was enough to grab my attention and I'd been wondering how Rix and Alex would end up together after such a rough start. They were already having awkward exchanges in the small glimpses we saw in Chloe's book but dang the awkward was amped up even more so at the beginning of this one. 

After the opening scene, we begin to learn more about both Alex and Rix and their stories were interesting--she's basically royalty and he's a former firefighter who is living a full life as a double amputee. Based on what you come to learn about her background, it's a minor miracle that she is so down to earth and it's absolutely no wonder her demeanor is what it is. As the novel progresses, though, what seemed like a lot of shy introvertedness shows itself to be more of a quiet calm and confidence. I could only wish to react as smoothly and controlled as she does in many a harrowing situation. She might be one of my new favorite KA characters (though I probably say about many of her heroines). Meanwhile, Rix is alpha --not too extremely alpha but he's definitely trying to prove a point at various times in this novel and...point received. He's not an obnoxious alpha (usually) and he definitely means well when he acts and reacts the ways that he does. But honestly, if alpha males offend you, I'm not sure why you're reading Kristen Ashley novels. 

As per usual, I finished reading this novel in record time--is there any other way with a KA novel?! And I have lots of thoughts on who could possibly be the focus of our next book (and because there are many options, I hope this means many more novels to come.

Taking the Leap was exactly what I hoped it would be ....and more and I am eagerly awaiting what Kristen Ashley puts out next.  

Fall in love with Rix and Alex!
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What kind of coffee drink do you like?

I could have lied, and when I saw him at the office, said I was driving when I got the text and that was why I didn’t answer.

But there was a part of me that was so excited to get my very first text from Rix, and that part was strong.

So strong, that thought didn’t even occur to me before I texted back with oodles of curiosity, Why?

Because I’m buying you a coffee, babe.

Another babe.

That was three.

Highly inappropriate, even infantilizing.

I said not one word about the “babe.”

Instead, I texted, Iced Chai.

Once I sent that, I texted, Mocha latte, iced or hot.

And on its heels, I sent, For just hot, flat white

Then I got nervous that I might be sounding like a goof.

So nervous my thumbs couldn’t seem to stop tapping letters, and I therefore texted, I assume you want to know what I want right now, rather than all that I like. So just to say, I tend to be a coffee explorer, since I like coffee. And caffeine on the whole. That means the list is kinda long. But if you’re asking for right now, which you are, because it’s chilly this morning, flat white.

After I sent that, I realized that I was absolutely sounding like a dork in sending it, all of it, including the three before. As such, I watched in agony as Rix’s three dots cycled and cycled and then they did it some more.

Until I got, How much coffee have you already had?

This would have been funny if it wasn’t so mortifying.

Just one, I responded miserably.

Try to cycle down cuz you’ll have another when you get to work. Later.

I decided I’d texted enough, so I let that lie.

It didn’t lie for long.

Rix showed at my desk at River Rain (which wasn’t going to be my desk at River Rain for very long, it’d be my desk at Trail Blazer since we were moving the next day, Judge’s office furniture, mine, and some unused stuff they had sitting around was all going to the new offices for temporary use because the telephones and Internet were being hooked up that day and it was time to occupy Trail Blazer).

Rix set my flat white down while I valiantly attempted not to blush, he made no attempt whatsoever to hide he totally did not miss I failed at this endeavor, smiled a smile that I wanted to think was friendly, but instead it seemed sexy, this thought being exacerbated when he muttered under his breath so I almost couldn’t hear it, “Only you could make a rambling coffee order adorable.”

I sat frozen.

Rix winked at me and said in his normal voice, “Bottoms up, Alex.”

With that, seeing as he was in his chair that day, he wheeled away.

Since there was a lot going on with packing for the move and tech hookups and such, I only had to deal with Rix in passing for the rest of Monday.

However, Tuesday morning, I was shoving stuff into my bag at home, preparing to head down the mountain to dig into the move, when my phone chimed.

OK, I have ten minutes, explain today’s coffee order.


Another text from Rix.

A startled laugh escaped from me because he was being funny.

I then texted back, You don’t have to buy me coffee.

To which he texted, I know I don’t.

Then I sent, I’m just saying, we’re good. We had a blip last week. But now we’re great.

We’re great?


Why did reading those two words texted by him make my breasts swell?

Good. Great. I mean, things are fine. You don’t have to butter me up with coffee.

So coffee is a way to butter you up?

Oh God.

What was that?

Was it flirty?

Or was it just being funny and friendly?

Or was it just a kind of getting-to-know-you, valued co-worker, but in a jokey fashion?

Tell him what you want and stop texting, Alex! I admonished myself.

I did not stop texting.

Well, yeah. Kinda. Like I said, I like coffee.

You did say that, so maybe you’ll tell me what kind you want this morning.

Time to get beyond this.

Iced Chai.

That’s tea.

Oh my God!


Or jokey?

I’m feeling tea today, I replied.

Right. And then he sent, That only took five minutes. I’d fill the other five by asking you what kind of donuts you like, but we got a lot to get accomplished today. I’m sure I’ll enjoy your dissertation on that, but I’d prefer to sort out my office so I can start doing the shit I’m getting paid to do.

He one hundred percent did not need my views on donuts then.

Therefore, I noted, Good call

He sent a smirk emoji, which shared the impossible.

Rix could even make emojis sexy.

Add Taking the Leap to Goodreads:

About Kristen Ashley
Kristen Ashley is the New York Times bestselling author of over sixty romance novels including the Rock Chick, Colorado Mountain, Dream Man, Chaos, Unfinished Hero, The ’Burg, Magdalene, Fantasyland, The Three, Ghost and Reincarnation, Moonlight and Motor Oil and Honey series along with several standalone novels. She’s a hybrid author, publishing titles both independently and traditionally, her books have been translated in fourteen languages and she’s sold over three million books.
Kristen’s novel, Law Man, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Romantic Suspense. Her independently published title Hold On was nominated for RT Book Reviews best Independent Contemporary Romance and her traditionally published title Breathe was nominated for best Contemporary Romance. Kristen’s titles Motorcycle Man, The Will, Ride Steady (which won the Reader’s Choice award from Romance Reviews) and The Hookup all made the final rounds for Goodreads Choice Awards in the Romance category.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Lady Tempts an Heir by Harper St. George



The Lady Tempts an Heir continues following the Crenshaw family as Max falls under the manipulative tactics of his parents. Luckily for us all, Helena is also in need of partner, and so together they work to try to maneuver around the expectations of their parents. As with the prior two novels, this novel features two characters who are immediately drawn to each other and yet are in a constant battle to try to suppress what they're feeling. They're both focused on the outcomes of their agreement but not so much that they can't find time to flirt and long for each other. Their courtship is delightful, even as they're in constant delightful, and I think it's probably my favorite so far. 

Every one of the novels in this series has featured wonderfully progressive and evolved characters. The men are strong and women are even stronger and their eventual happy endings are always so satisfactory. I thought, sadly, that this might be the last novel in the series but I'm happy to see that there will be more to come.



A fake engagement brings together a lady with bold and daring dreams, and the heir whose heart she captured—perfect for fans of Bridgerton!

Tall, dark, and brooding—to say that American Maxwell Crenshaw stood out in the glittering ballrooms of London is an understatement. He vowed never to set foot in England again, but when a summons from his father along with an ultimatum to secure his legacy has him crossing the Atlantic for the last time, reuniting him with the delectable Lady Helena March, he can’t deny the temptation she presents. Or the ideas she inspires…
Lady Helena March is flirting with scandal. Instead of spending her time at teas and balls in search of another husband, as is expected of a young widow, Helena pours her energy into The London Home for Young Women. But Society gives no quarter to unmarried radicals who associate with illegitimate children and fallen women, and Helena’s funding is almost run out. So when the sinfully seductive Crenshaw heir suggests a fake engagement to save them both—him from an unwanted marriage and her from scorn and financial ruin—Helena finds herself too fascinated to refuse the sexy American.
As their arrangement of convenience melts oh so deliciously into nights of passion, their deception starts to become real. But if Max knew the true reason Helena can never remarry, he wouldn’t look at her with such heat in his eyes. Or might the Crenshaw heir be willing to do whatever it takes to win the one woman he’s never been able to forget…

Monday, February 7, 2022

REVIEW: Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey


How is it that I haven't read a Tessa Bailey novel in a long time? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Because now that I've read Hook, Line, and Sinker I remember how much I enjoy the worlds and characters she creates. 

In this second book of standalones in the Bellinger Sisters series, I fell in love with the small town vibe, but even more so I fell in love with the story of Hannah and Fox. I loved how their friendship/relationship developed over time --it was something I don't think I've read before and it was refreshing and fun to read. So as the blurb shows us Hannah and Fox are cohabitating just as friends, though they both have ginormous crushes on each other that they insist on stifling. This denial leads to some humorous scenes and eventually, a revelation that their feelings are mutual. He's hot. She's gorgeous. 2 + 2 = 4, right? Eventually it does, but they had to make everything hard, which made it fun, and so rewarding at the end. 

One thing I really liked about the way Tessa Bailey developed her characters is that she wrote Hannah as this forthright, to the point, do the hard stuff, confident woman (with maybe a few small exceptions). She wrote Fox as the uncertain one. I liked that. It's rare that you see a male character really struggle and delve into it the way Fox did and I really appreciated that reading experience.

I'm sure fans will appreciate the cameos of characters from the first book in this series, It Happened One Summer, but I can confirm that if you haven't read that one yet (ahem, that would be me), you can clearly follow the connections between characters. I cannot recommend Hook, Line, and Sinker enough--but I'm sure gonna try. It's romcom with depth and I can't wait to read more of Bailey's backlist. 



In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah's in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she's nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can't deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost. 

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she'll choose him instead?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

REVIEW: Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy

Elle Kennedy just take all my money right now. Having just lived through Hurricane Ida and in much need to a distraction, Good Girl Complex completely immersed me into a fictional world that took my mind off of all my worries. (Note--I'm reading this wayyyy before release so by the time it comes out, all of these hurricane troubles should be long gone). The only sad thing for me was that this novel was over way too soon.

Mackenzie and Cooper fit the opposites attract trope to a T; on the surface these two should not work. She's from a rich political family, he's from a deadbeat mom. She's a self-made millionaire, he's saving every penny from his labor intensive jobs to try to make a go of his dream. She's a 'clone', he's a 'townie'. So many obvious differences .... and yet so many differences that don't matter. Their love story doesn't start with the most auspicious beginnings--it's based on a revenge plot and let's not forget that she has a long term boyfriend--but it's only a matter of hours spent getting to know each other, that reveals that there's something there. 

Their banter, the subplots of friends, revenge, her terrible boyfriend, their terrible families, among others, kept me engaged and interested in what would happen next. If I have one small complaint, and it is truly small and selfish, it's that I wish we had a little more at the end. I can only hope that we'll see more of both of them in a future novel? 

I enjoyed the new world Elle Kennedy created in Avalon Bay and am so hopeful that she plans to explore it more with the secondary characters that she created. 



Full of romance, hijinks, and longing, Good Girl Complex is Elle Kennedy at her very best.

She does everything right. So what could go wrong?

Mackenzie “Mac” Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It’s exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents’ insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.

Mac’s had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.

Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn’t just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he’s been keeping from her threatens the only place she’s ever felt at home.

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