Monday, April 15, 2024

REVIEW: The Social Graces by Renee Rosen


The Social Graces has been sitting on my kindle for a while and I'm glad I finally picked it up. This novel takes the real lives of the Vanderbilts and the Astors and fictionalizes aspects of their lives, while staying fairly true to many of the facts. I found myself stopping to google images and places because the way Rosen wrote their stories made me completely fascinated and dying to know more. 

I really appreciated how she made Alva and Caroline interesting and flawed and lovable--you couldn't help but root for both of them, even as you questioned some of their choices. I also enjoyed that she wrote about a large span of their lives, which made the novel feel very satisfying when you got to the end--it felt complete.

Interesting, historical read. 



Named one of 
2021’s Most Anticipated Historical Novels by Oprah Daily ∙ SheReads ∙ Frolic ∙ BookReporter ∙ and more...

The author of 
Park Avenue Summer throws back the curtain on one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Alva Vanderbilt and the Mrs. Astor's notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.

1876. In the glittering world of Manhattan's upper crust, women are valued by their pedigree, dowry, and, most importantly, connections. They have few rights and even less independence—what they do have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor.

But times are changing.

Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America's richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.

Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is the mesmerizing story of two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly, and discovering what’s truly at stake.


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

REVIEW: Avenging Angel by Kristen Ashley


Coincidentally, I just finished a reread of the entire Rock Chick Series and had no idea that Avenging Angel would happen to come out when I finished aaaaand be Rock Chick adjacent! NO IDEA. How I got so lucky, who knows but dang I hit the jackpot in my reading schedule. 

I loved Avenging Angel; it had all the things I love about the RCHB nation: hilarity, the best secondary characters, and the warmth and love that comes in all of Kristen Ashley's novels. In this first book in the new series, we get to watch Cap (aka Sniff) find his match in Rachel ("Raye"). He's opening the new Nightengale offices in Phoenix and she's a waitress in a funky coffee shop/cocktail/restaurant by day and a part time avenger at night. They "meet" when they both end up trying to bust a criminal at the same place/same time and are then inseparable. 

The narrative is told through Raye's eyes and her inner monologue is as goofy and endearing as all of the other RCs. And Cap is an evolved macho man--definitely has the sensibilities of one of the Hot Bunch but less caveman about it. They're both loveable, as are their friends, and I am DYING for the rest of the series. I can't wait to get to know them all (and how they see the RCHB, since they definitely make their appearances).

Great read! 



Rachel Armstrong has a burning need to right the world’s wrongs. Thus, she becomes the Avenging Angel.

And maybe she’s a bit too cocky about it.

While riding a hunch about the identity of a kidnapper, she runs into Julien “Cap” Jackson, who was trained by the team at Nightingale Investigations in Denver. Now he’s a full-fledged member at their newly opened Phoenix branch.

It takes Cap a beat to realize Raye’s the woman for him. It takes Raye a little longer (but just a little) to figure out how she feels about Cap.

As Raye introduces Cap to her crazy posse of found family and his new home in the Valley of the Sun, Cap struggles with his protective streak. Because Raye has no intention to stop doing what she can to save the world.

But there’s a mysterious entity out there who has discovered what Raye is up to, and they’ve become very interested.

Not to mention, women are going missing in Phoenix, and it seems like the police aren’t taking it seriously.

Raye believes someone should.

So she recruits her best friend Luna, and between making coffees, mixing cocktails, planning parties and enduring family interventions (along with reunions), the Avenging Angels unite to ride to the rescue.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Powerless by Elsie Silver


Elsie Silver is a new to me author; I think I found her after seeing other authors sharing some of her work and I thought I'd give Powerless a try. 

The first few chapters had me interested in the story of Sloane and Jasper, but if I'm being honest, there was a little bit of a drag after I got to know them and what their story was about and when things picked up for me. I think it was just a little too much of them in their heads about each other, when it was clear to everyone that they were both pining for each other...and yet they continued to deny it for what sometimes felt like forever. That being said, I still found their love story interesting with all of the side characters and subplots that were involved and that kept things moving for me and then things got moving for Sloane and Jasper and once that happened, the novel picked up steam and I flew through the rest of the pages. 

I enjoyed how sweet both Sloane and Jasper were and I also appreciated that they both were strong and weak and that when needed, they had each other's back. I loved the whole family aspect of the novel and am definitely curious about the other siblings and their books. So even though there were parts that were a smidge slow for me, I'm glad I stuck with it because it ended up being a solid 3.5 read. 



Two childhood friends. Two broken hearts. One impromptu road trip to get away from everything. That’s all this was supposed to be. After all, I’ve been living in the friend zone for years now.

But hockey heartthrob Jasper Gervais isn’t looking at me like a friend anymore. And he isn’t touching me like one either.

To his fans, he’s the handsome, talented athlete on TV. To me, he’s still the lost boy with sad eyes and a heart of gold.

The man I’ve loved in secret for years.

So when my life falls apart on my wedding day, it only makes sense that he’s the one to swoop in and save me. And when his world comes crashing down around him, I’m there to return the favor.

But the more time we spend alone, the more Jasper doesn’t feel like a friend at all. He feels like everything I’ve ever wanted and thought I could never have.

Our feelings aren’t straightforward though. They twist and turn around the pain of his past and the reality of my present.

Jasper Gervais acts like he wants me.

But after years of turning me away, he’s going to need to prove it.

Friday, April 5, 2024

REVIEW: Wild Card by Staci Hart


Staci Hart is baaaaack; thank the Lordt! And what a comeback! Wild Card is a delightful mix of humor and sexiness and sweet romance. We've got Remy, Mr. Hot Stuff, baseball player, smirking bartender and Jessa, Ms. Prim and Proper, British, Queen of snark...a match made in heaven. They get thrown together when his cousin's (aka her BFF) wedding takes over his small town and his rundown cottage is the last available space for her to stay. Day 1 shows us that their attraction to each other is instant and mutual and their snarky banter is going to be the absolute best. As the days go on and they get to know each other, it's easy to see how compatible they are. They're both kind and generous and a little lost, when it comes to their futures. With time to kill between wedding events, the conversations they have reveal things--his pushed aside dreams and her desire for a life beyond the social calendar her family wants her to abide. They also learn that they must keep their burgeoning romance a secret, as his cousin/her BFF has forbidden them to hook up. Fortunately for us, they can't seem to help themselves and they explore more than their personalities...that dryer scene!...lordy have mercy...the hotness...the filthy mouths...the hot. 

All this to say that Remy and Jessa are the perfect match and the perfect comeback for Staci Hart. 



The hot baseball player I’m forced to stay with for my best friend’s wedding is off limits.

Remy Winfield has more muscles than manners, and he’s on a mission to get me into bed by way of the filthiest mouth I’ve ever wanted to kiss. He doesn’t care about my long time crush or my certainty that we’re finally about to happen.

Remy's sure I’ll break first and kiss him, and he’ll tease me to the limit to make sure I do. I might be a Lady, but I can still play his dirty little game. It’s perfectly safe, totally harmless.

Until I fall for him.

Suddenly, Mr. Long-Time Crush doesn’t matter at all.

And my best friend can never know.

Monday, April 1, 2024

REVIEW: The Art of Scandal by Regina Black



The Art of Scandal came highly recommended by tons of writers and readers I really respect, so when I saw it on sale I snagged it to read over a break. 

This novel has all of the things I think wou"Love would be so much easier if it were perfect..." 

On the night of her husband Matt’s fortieth birthday, Rachel Abbott receives a sexy, explicit text from her husband that she quickly realizes was meant for another woman. Divorce is inevitable, and Rachel is determined not to leave her thirteen-year marriage empty handed. Meanwhile, Matt, a rising star mayor with his eye on the White House, can’t afford a messy split in the middle of his reelection campaign. They strike a deal: Rachel gets one million dollars and their lavish house in the wealthy DC suburb of Oasis Springs, as long as she keeps playing the ideal Black trophy wife until the election.

Then Rachel meets Nathan Vasquez, a very handsome, very lost twenty-six-year-old artist, and their connection makes Rachel forget about being the perfect politician’s wife. As Rachel reawakens Nathan’s long-dormant artistic aspirations, their attraction becomes impossible to resist. But secrets are hard to keep in a town like Oasis Springs, and Nathan has a few of his own. With the risk of scandal looming and their hearts on the line, they’ll have to decide whether the possibility of losing everything is worth taking a chance on love. 

The Art of Scandal is a sizzling, conversation-starting debut about rekindling passion, the transformative power of art, and finding love in unexpected places. ld make it go viral: a salacious premise of an older woman, Rachel, and a younger man, Nathan, a potential political scandal, commentary of class and sex and sexism and race and ageism and the hypocrisy of so many things, as well as secrets and lies. So many good things going on and while I definitely enjoyed it--it was a 3.5 to 4 star read for me--I think the thing that held me back from LOVING it like so many was that it was a little slow for me. It needed to be. Regina Black was exploring all the dynamics that went into her characters and their decisions and skimping on that would've made the novel feel flat. 

The synopsis tells you the outline of the story of these two, but it's the way they are drawn and filled in that makes this story what it is--one filled with two lost souls, trying to find themselves and somehow find each other. It's about figuring out who you are and who you want to be and conquering the natural fears that come with that knowledge. It's also filled with passion and love and grief and hope and one that I think many will enjoy. 



Monday, March 25, 2024

REVIEW: Savor It by Tarah DeWitt


This is the first Tarah DeWitt novel that I've read and it was a nice surprise. I'll admit that it took me a few chapters to feel like I was really *in* the novel but once I warmed up to the small town romance and all of the characters in it, I enjoyed it. Sage and Fisher are new neighbors for the summer--she's a teacher who's from Spunes and takes care of the neighboring house that Fisher is renting for the summer. Fisher is a transplant for the summer; he and his niece (and now ward) are there to try to pick up the pieces of their lives and also to get his boss's new restaurant up and running. 

Initially it seems like these two wouldn't fit. Sage is a brightsider and has a sunny disposition while Fisher seems like a gloom and doomer, a little lost, and a lot frowny. But Sage doesn't let that put her off and her sharp observations of what Fisher and his niece need helps her plow through the walls they both have up--they can't seem to resist her and she definitely uses that to her advantage. As they get to know each other, Sage agrees to help Fisher ingratiate himself into the town (and also help with his menu) and he agrees to help her win this town competition that's a main event to the summer. Through these endeavors they get to know each other and fall for each other. Their romance is sweet and steamy and one that you just hope endures. 

This one will sneak up on you and before you know it, you're all up in your feelings and eager to see how the rest of the characters we meet will find love.



Summer won't last forever.

Sage Byrd has lived in the coastal town of Spunes, Oregon (not to be confused with Forks, Washington) her entire life. She's learned to love her small world, with the misfit animals on her hobby farm, and her friendships with the town’s inhabitants. But when her 5-year relationship ends and her ex, town-golden-boy Ian, suddenly gets engaged, Sage needs a win—something that will convince everyone to stop pitying her all the time, and to put Ian in his place. The Festival of Spunes, the town’s annual summer competition, would be the perfect opportunity. She just needs a partner.

Fisher Lange was a hotshot chef in New York City until the loss of his sister left him numb, grieving, and responsible for his teenage niece Indy. When Fisher loses his Michelin star along with his love of cooking, his boss sends him and Indy to Spunes on a much-needed summer sabbatical to consult on a restaurant opening. But when clashes with the townspeople threaten his last chance to redeem himself and a kiss with his new neighbor Sage leads to dating rumors, a strategic alliance might just be the best way to turn things around.

A deal is struck. Sage will improve Fisher’s image in the eyes of the town and remove the roadblocks he is facing with the restaurant, and Fisher will be Sage’s partner for the competition. But as their pact quickly turns into steamy rendezvous, emotional wounds begin to heal, and the pair tries to savor every moment, they start to realize that summer is racing by much faster than they would like...

Filled with spicy summer fun, small-town charm, and Big Feelings, this highly anticipated romcom is Tarah DeWitt’s best yet.

Monday, March 18, 2024

REVIEW: The Stranger I Wed by Harper St. George


The Stranger I Wed is the first book in The Doves of New York Series; a series about three sisters and their mother going to London to try to change their lives, due to manipulations of the 'patriarch' of their family. This first book introduces us to the entire Dove family but focuses on Cora, the oldest sister, and the one who instigates their move to London, after confronting her father and discovering conditions on her inheritance. 

When they arrive in London, the sisters begin scouting their prospects and on one such scouting exhibition, Cora meets her future spouse, the Earl of Devonworth when he accidentally runs her over while playing football. As one might expect, they both find the other fascinating and because of the nature of him needing money and her needing a title, they end up marrying fairly quickly after that meeting. Initially the marriage is one of convenience--he needs the cash and she needs the security his title offers; he doesn't want to risk his heart and she most definitely doesn't want that either. What she does want, however, is independence and freedom. As they get to know each other, their resolve to not know each other disappears and with that respect and love blooms. Before you know it, they're writing together, laughing together, and seem like a team--something neither of them anticipated. Of course, because this is a romance, there's that hesitation about whether this development in their marriage is something that they want. With a little conflict and reflection and resolution, these two find their happily ever after and now we get to see Eliza's journey from single New Yorker to the newest belle of London. 


New to wealth and to London high society, American heiress Cora Dove discovers that with the right man, marriage might not be such an inconvenience after all. . . .

Cora Dove and her sisters’ questionable legitimacy has been the lifelong subject of New York’s gossipmongers and a continual stain on their father’s reputation. So when the girls each receive a generous, guilt-induced dowry from their dying grandmother, the sly Mr. Hathaway vows to release their funds only if Cora and her sisters can procure suitable husbands—far from New York. For Cora, England is a fresh start. She has no delusions of love, but a husband who will respect her independence? That’s an earl worth fighting for.

Enter: Leopold Brendon, Earl of Devonworth, a no-nonsense member of Parliament whose plan to pass a Public Health bill that would provide clean water to the working class requires the backing of a wealthy wife.  He just never expected to crave Cora’s touch or yearn to hear her thoughts on his campaign—or to discover that his seemingly perfect bride protects so many secrets...

But secrets have a way of bubbling to the surface, and Devonworth has a few of his own. With their pasts laid bare and Cora’s budding passion for women’s rights taking a dangerous turn, they’ll learn the true cost of losing their heart to a stranger—and that love is worth any price.


Monday, March 11, 2024

REVIEW: Fangirl Down by Tessa Bailey


I ended up enjoying this novel so much that I'm still thinking about it days later....and I honestly didn't expect that at all. As a matter of fact, at the very beginning of this novel, I wasn't sure how I felt about these characters. Josephine seemed too fangirl-y and Wells seemed too cantankerous, but once I actually spent some time with these two, I found them to be fun to get to know and read. 

Josephine almost seems too good to be true--she's loyal and kind and maybe a smidge stubborn. She's self-aware and also aware of what she's walking into when she agrees to work with Wells. Wells, while definitely cantankerous, is actually a huge softie when given the chance to be. He's got some serious trust issues but once he feels the full force of Josephine (and her family), he comes to know and understand what it feels like to be treated with respect and love, which causes him to be less of an asshat and more of the good guy he really is.

The banter, the chemistry, the backstory, and the love story all captured my attention, gave me the giggles, and had me missing these two when it was all over--if that's not the sign of a good read, I don't know what is. 



New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey launches a super sexy sports romance duology with a rom-com about a bad boy professional athlete who falls for his biggest fan...

Wells Whitaker was once golf’s hottest rising star, but lately, all he has to show for his “promising” career is a killer hangover, a collection of broken clubs, and one remaining supporter. No matter how bad he plays, the beautiful, sunny redhead is always on the sidelines. He curses, she cheers. He scowls, she smiles. But when Wells quits in a blaze of glory and his fangirl finally goes home, he knows he made the greatest mistake of his life.

Josephine Doyle believed in the gorgeous, grumpy golfer, even when he didn’t believe in himself. Yet after he throws in the towel, she begins to wonder if her faith was misplaced. Then a determined Wells shows up at her door with a wild proposal: be his new caddy, help him turn his game around, and split the prize money. And considering Josephine’s professional and personal life is in shambles, she could really use the cash…

As they travel together, spending days on the green and nights in neighboring hotel rooms, sparks fly. Before long, they’re inseparable, Wells starts winning again, and Josephine is surprised to find a sweet, thoughtful guy underneath his gruff, growly exterior. This hot man wants to brush her hair, feed her snacks, and take bubble baths together? Is this real life? But Wells is technically her boss and an athlete falling for his fangirl would be ridiculous… right?

Saturday, March 9, 2024

REVIEW: Heartbreaker Handoff by Lex Martin


I CanNOT BELIEVE HE JUST SAID something you will find yourself applying to many of the men in this book, at many times in the book. Sometimes you'll think it in an amusing way and sometimes you'll be so pissed you'll want to rage throw the book. Putting that aside, I enjoyed Roxy and Billy's story. These two were secondary characters in previous books in the series and, of course, I've been curious about them and who they'd end up with. 

Between Billy and Roxy, you couldn't have two nicer characters. They are genuinely good people who care about the people around them and try to do their best by them, which includes helping each other out. She needs a fake boyfriend and he needs to appear to be settled down and so why not each other? It doesn't hurt that they're both attracted to each other, like each other, and would actually like to date. As they get to know each other and fall for each other, their story gets sweeter and sweeter. Of course there are moments (see my first sentence), but honestly, the angsty bits were not too torturous and made their HEA that much sweeter. 

As I've said all along, this series is like catnip for me--this single parent/surprise pregnancy trope is, for some crazy reason, my jam and I can't stop won't stop.



Billy’s not my baby daddy, but he doesn’t mind pretending to be…

I’m a Division 1 cheerleader with hopes of becoming a sports broadcaster. None of my plans for college include getting knocked up by a cheating ex who just got engaged to another girl.

When my father finds out I’m pregnant, he goes ballistic. That’s when my BFF, bad boy Billy Babcock, comes to my rescue and agrees to “take responsibility.”

Billy and I solidify our contract on a napkin—he’ll pretend to be my baby’s father, and I’ll help him clean up his image. The only problem is my father, the football coach, hates Billy. He warned me off dating players a long time ago, and he thinks Billy’s the biggest player out there.

Now that we’re in a “relationship,” Billy thinks we should spend some quality naked time together, but I’m worried about crossing that line. Because athletic guys with big muscles, intricate tattoos, and sexy smirks are my biggest weakness, and Billy ticks off all those boxes.

Can my football player “boyfriend” walk the straight and narrow for me? Or did I just get handed off from one heartbreaker to another?

* * *

Heartbreaker Handoff is an angsty, friends-to-lovers, forbidden romance featuring a sassy cheerleader, who’s about to be a single mother, and a criminally charming football player determined to prove he’s the man for her, one sizzling kiss at a time. Heartbreaker Handoff is a dual POV standalone in the USA Today-bestselling series Varsity Dads.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

REVIEW: This Could Be Us by Kennedy Ryan


This Could Be Us has to be one of the most anticipated new releases of 2024, with good reason. Kennedy Ryan is a force, as evidenced by everything she's ever written; her novels immediately suck you in and hold you in their thrall until the very last word, and even at that last word, you find yourself hoping for more words, more pages, more chapters, more everything because you aren't quite ready to leave the world she's created. 

In the case of This Could Be Us, we get the story of Soledad and Judah--two people who would seem to never work, if for no other reason than how they find themselves entangled, but work so very well. But before we even get to know that, we get to know them...and that's one of the many reasons why I love Kennedy Ryan's novels. We get to really know Soledad and Judah; we get to see them develop, to see what they like and don't, to see how they work as themselves, by themselves, before we ever see them working together. By the time we see them together together, we love them and are dying for them to be together. DYING. 

So what's so special about these two? Judah is the most amazing father, ex-husband/co-parent you can imagine. He's very involved in the care and loving of his children, considerate of the needs of others, and gives zero effs when it comes to things like the opinions of people who don't mean anything to him. He's strong and compassionate and just a completely evolved human being. I can't think of one thing I don't love about him. Likewise, Soledad is also an amazing mother; she's willing to do what it takes to secure normalcy and continuity for her daughters (after her scum of the earth husband/ex-husband does them dirty), while also treating them like humans--not shielding them from all the hard things, but not tainting them with ugliness either. She knows when to give and when to take. She listens and explores and ponders and takes the time to really know who she is and what she wants. She's strong and loving and empathetic and wonderful. She and Judah are really the perfect counterparts and I have no idea how Kennedy Ryan does this--she keeps creating the most perfectly imperfect, and therefore believable and loveable, characters. 

In addition to all of the wonderfulness that is Soledad and Judah, we get to check in on the characters we met in Before I Let Go, which is always a treat. We get to imagine the awesomeness that will be Hendrix's story while also reveling in the updates of the characters we got to know in the first book of the Skyland Series.

And of course, Kennedy Ryan is always so well researched and knowledgeable about the representation in her novels. While I have only tangential experiences in real life with some of the backgrounds and  experiences of that of her fictional characters, I appreciate how she continues to give us characters from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences and strives to write them realistically; Ryan's novels are truly the epitome of literature being a mirror or window and I love having the reading journey I do when I pick up her novels. She's also masterful at leaving us wanting more and I can tell you right now, you're going to want her next novel in you hands as soon as you finish The Could Be Us

Before I Let Go is a five start read and I cannot wait for everyone to read it. 



Soledad Barnes has her life all planned out. Because, of course, she does. She plans everything. She designs everything. She fixes everything. She’s a domestic goddess who's never met a party she couldn't host or a charge she couldn't lead. The one with all the answers and the perfect vinaigrette for that summer salad. But none of her varied talents can save her when catastrophe strikes, and the life she built with the man who was supposed to be her forever, goes poof in a cloud of betrayal and disillusion.

 But there is no time to pout or sulk, or even grieve the life she lost. She's too busy keeping a roof over her daughters' heads and food on the table. And in the process of saving them all, Soledad rediscovers herself. From the ashes of a life burned to the ground, something bold and new can rise.
But then an unlikely man enters the picture—the forbidden one, the one she shouldn't want but can't seem to resist. She's lost it all before and refuses to repeat her mistakes. Can she trust him? Can she trust 
After all she's lost . . .and found . . .can she be brave enough to make room for what could be?

Monday, March 4, 2024

REVIEW: Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle


Expiration Dates is the third novel I've read of Rebecca Serle and one thing that I've come to learn about her works is that she doesn't repeat tropes or build on ideas/characters/content from previous novels--so I never know what, exactly, I'm going to get. 

Expiration Dates is unlike any other romance that I've read. It's based on the main character, Daphne, and that she gets these mysterious notes that tell her how long a relationship with a certain man will last. Because of that, she never really fully opens herself to the possibilities of that relationship because she knows there's an end date. While she finds pleasure in her relationships and sometimes, even, allows herself to be more of herself with some of her partners, it's really only 2 partners that we see her begin to fully be herself.  And it's because of all of this that for the first half of the novel, I felt disconnected...because she felt disconnected. Everything up to the halfway mark felt so matter of fact and didn't really back an emotional punch--it was more of a retelling of her past relationships than an emotional unfolding of her story. Then we learn more about her and why she does certain things or seems so matter of fact and that's when I became more invested in what was happening with Daphne and Jake.

Expiration Dates has a unique take on fate and love and while it wasn't what I was expecting, it was still an interesting read.



Daphne Bell believes the universe has a plan for her. Every time she meets a new manshe receives a slip of paper with his name and a number on it—the exact amount of time they will be together. The papers told her she’d spend three days with Martin in Paris; five weeks with Noah in San Francisco; and three months with Hugo, her ex-boyfriend turned best friend. Daphne has been receiving the numbered papers for over twenty years, always wondering when there might be one without an expiration. Finally, the night of a blind date at her favorite Los Angeles restaurant, there’s only a name: Jake.

But as Jake and Daphne’s story unfolds, Daphne finds herself doubting the paper’s prediction, and wrestling with what it means to be both committed and truthful. Because Daphne knows things Jake doesn’t, information that—if he found out—would break his heart.

Told with her signature warmth and insight into matters of the heart, Rebecca Serle has finally set her sights on romantic love. The result is a gripping, emotional, passionate, and (yes) heartbreaking novel about what it means to be single, what it means to find love, and ultimately how we define each of them for ourselves. 
Expiration Dates is the one fans have been waiting for.

Monday, February 26, 2024

REVIEW: The Graham Effect by Elle Kennedy


 I haven't read all of the Briar U or Off Campus books but that didn't stop me from enjoying The Graham Effect. I'm sure I missed some of the references to past stories and characters, ultimately I didn't need to know all of these to have fun with Gigi and Ryder. I loved that this romance featured two hockey players--I'm not sure I've read a romance where both athletes play the same sport and therefore understand each other on a whole other level because of it. I enjoyed how strong both of these characters were and that their conflict wasn't really with each other at all, though they enjoyed snarking at each other for a while, and that the conflicts that existed seemed appropriately tense but not over the top. Gigi had a strong sense of herself and her goals and that allowed her to be the lead in how to 'do' this relationship. She showed Ryder how to open up and be there in ways he hadn't really been able to be there for others. And Ryder's trusting her gave her something she didn't know she needed either.

While The Graham Effect started a smidge slow for me, by the time I was hooked, I was hooked. I was laughing at some of the foolishness happening with Ryder's roommates and teammates and turning the pages, knowing that their happily ever after would be so good. It was. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series, while grabbing the backlist of these older series to catch up with the first generation of these characters.



The first book in the delicious, icy-hot Campus Diaries series, a spinoff of BookTok sensations Off-Campus and Briar U, by New York Times bestselling author Elle Kennedy.

Gigi Graham has exactly three goals: qualify for the women’s national hockey team, win Olympic gold, and step out of her famous father’s shadow. So far, so good, except for two little things. Fine–a little thing and a big, grumpy thing. She needs to improve her game behind the net, and she needs help from Luke Ryder.

Ryder is six-foot five, built, opinionated, rude…and sexy as hell. But he’s still the enemy.

Briar’s new hockey co-captain has his reasons, though. The men’s team just merged with a rival program, leaving Ryder with an angry roster where everyone hates one another’s guts. To make matters worse, the summer coaching spot he’s angling for with the legendary Garrett Graham is out of reach after he makes the worst possible first impression on his hero. So, really, this compromise with Gigi is win-win. He helps her make the national team, she puts in a good word
with her dad.

The only potential snag? This bone-deep, body-numbing, mind-spinning chemistry they’re trying to ignore. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing, but the risks just might be worth it.

Monday, February 19, 2024

REVIEW: Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros


This series is going to be the death of me...the wait alone is for book 3 may end me. The way that book two ends ...I just.... ugh. I can't wait for Court to finish it so we can both speculate on all the things. In the meantime....Violet and Xaden's story picks up right where we left off in Fourth Wing. We get more answers about Brennan. We get more intrigue. More history. More evil. More romance. And the beauty of it is that we get all of that from the comfort of knowing these characters, so you get to settle in and just enjoy the interactions, while deepening knowledge of who they are, which means that when new characters are introduced, it's not overwhelming because you already feel so comfortable with the characters from book 1. 

Violet seems stronger than ever and Xaden seems more human and their relationship? More complicated than ever. Each of them contribute to the complexity and it's kind of infuriating, even though there are times when you get why they're each dug into their positions.

I'm loving getting to know the secondary characters, too. They add humor and conflict and tension and relief and enrich and already engaging read--you can't help but root for all of them. And don't even get me started on the dragons--their snark and commentary is perfect.

This review kinda sucks but I'm realizing how hard it is to write without spoiling too much (but I will say that I accidentally happened on some HUGE spoilers for this book and it didn't take away from my enjoyment of reading, at all), so I'll just end with a huge, gushing READ THIS SERIES. IT'S SO GOOD.



Everyone expected Violet Sorrengail to die during her first year at Basgiath War College—Violet included. But Threshing was only the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak-willed, the unworthy, and the unlucky.

Now the 
real training begins, and Violet’s already wondering how she’ll get through. It’s not just that it’s grueling and maliciously brutal, or even that it’s designed to stretch the riders’ capacity for pain beyond endurance. It’s the new vice commandant, who’s made it his personal mission to teach Violet exactly how powerless she is–unless she betrays the man she loves.

Although Violet’s body might be weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she still has her wits—and a will of iron. And leadership is forgetting the most important lesson Basgiath has taught her: 
Dragon riders make their own rules.

But a determination to survive won’t be enough this year.

Because Violet knows the real secret hidden for centuries at Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end.

The Empyrean series is best enjoyed in order.
Reading Order:
Book #1 Fourth Wing
Book #2 Iron Flame


Monday, February 12, 2024

REVIEW: Wildfire by Hannah Grace




The next novel in the Maple Hills Series, Wildfire, features Russ ("muffin") and Aurora and since we didn't learn too much about them in Icebreaker, the first part of the novel gives us a deep dive into their histories, flaws, and their strengths. Russ is battling some serious self confidence issues, brought on by a craptastic family issues. Aurora, too, has some crummy family issues and has allowed that to fuel some impulsive, self destructive choices. Together these two should be a disaster-their first hook up made it seemed like it would be-but they're actually good for each other and to each other. Aurora provides space for Russ to be vulnerable and honest about his upbringing and he returns the favor by being a good listener as she reveals her fears and desires to change. All of this is happening while they work as camp counselors at a summer camp, where it's strictly forbidden to hook up with each other. While they try hard to abide by that rule, it's inevitable that they can't resist each other...and the forbidden nature of it makes it that much more fun. 

Hannah Grace makes it easy to get sucked in to the world she creates and when you finish you can't help but want to read her next thing...which I know we're all hoping will be Henry or JJ or having met Xander, Xander. So many options and future reads. Can't wait. 



The latest in the TikTok sensation and deliciously “swoonworthy” (Elena Armas, New York Times bestselling author) Maple Hills series follows two summer camp counselors who reconnect after a sizzling one-night stand.

Maple Hills students Russ Callaghan and Aurora Roberts cross paths at a party celebrating the end of the academic year, where a drinking game results in them having a passionate one-night stand. Never one to overstay her welcome (or expect much from a man), Aurora slips away before Russ even has the chance to ask for her full name.

Imagine their surprise when they bump into each other on the first day of the summer camp where they are both counselors, hoping to escape their complicated home lives by spending the summer working. Russ hopes if he gets far enough away from Maple Hills, he can avoid dealing with the repercussions of his father’s gambling addiction, while Aurora is tired of craving attention from everyone around her, and wants to go back to the last place she truly felt at home.

Russ knows breaking the camp’s strict “no staff fraternizing” rule will have him heading back to Maple Hills before the summer is over, but unfortunately for him, Aurora has never been very good at caring about the rules. Will the two learn to peacefully coexist? Or did their one night together start a fire they can’t put out?

Monday, February 5, 2024

REVIEW: Rainfall by Alison Rhymes



Admittedly, I'm very out of the loop in the current book world. Between work and teenage daughters and chemo brainfog, I have been just snagging books when I see them being posted online by someone else...not even knowing to anticipate them because I'm just in a different realm of my life many days. All that to say that when I saw Alison Rhyme's had a new novel that looked like the beginnings of a new series, I quickly grabbed it and dug in.

Rainfall is the beginnings of a new series, I think? It features all new characters and a new sport, hockey. It also features one of my favorite tropes--the secret baby trope. I should also forewarn you, as I can see that many reviewers have a *thing* about cheating, that there's definitely that too. In the case of Isla and Cillian, they meet because he's a player in her father's junior hockey league, they fall in love as teenagers, and when he eventually gets drafted into the NHL, things go wrong. There's long distance, a shady girl situation, and then a shut down of communication when things go terribly terribly wrong. Fast forward to several years later and Cillian has been moved to Isla's dad's professional NHL team and that's when all the secrets and lies are revealed.

I know that the tropes, the decisions and consequences, and overall not great choices are not everyone's cup of tea and I get it. I think for me it was how they went about fixing things that I found interesting and laudable. I don't that I could be as forgiving as either of them, given the situation...but then again I can hold a grudge like it's my job, when I really feel like it. If all of this sounds appealing, grab Rainfall and get to know these characters. I found it to be entertaining and an escape from all the things that trouble me in the world and I'm looking forward to what she does next with this series and these characters. 



I met the love of my life at ten years old.

At sixteen, I gave him my heart.

Three years later he was drafted to the NHL and moved across the country.

Five years after, he’s back. And he’s meeting his daughter for the first time.

I still hate him.

Even if my heart says that’s a lie.


At ten years old, she changed my life.

At sixteen, I told her I loved her.

Three years after, I left and broke her heart.

Five years later, I’m coming back home to the surprise of my life.

I hate her for it.

Even though my brain says this is all my fault.

Friday, February 2, 2024

REVIEW: Through the Glen by Samantha Young


 The hardest thing about reading this series by Samantha Young is trying to write a review without saying the same thing that you always say because while these characters are distinctive from previous ones, the main thing I know is that I love being in this world she's created and I fly through every book she's written on these characters. But to be more specific about Through the Glen, I've been really curious about what makes Theo tick (ie why can he be such a dick) and what makes Sarah so shy. We definitely get the answers to those questions as they get to know each other and what I learned, I really liked...or at least understood and it worked. Learning about why Theo seems so distant and rude and cold helped me to like him and see him as the protector and good guy that he is. And watching Sarah bloom into a more confident introvert and seeing the love that she had for those she cared for made it clear that these two were meant for each other. I enjoyed how quickly they got thrown together, how that went down, and what developed because of it. Their love story was easy to read, easy to love, and you have to know that I'm hoping that Sarah's brother gets the Samantha Young treatment next. 

A great weekend read that you won't want to put down until the end...and when you get there, you'll be so happy that you read it. 

Through the Glen by Samantha Young is now live! 

He’s a cynical, world-weary Londoner. She’s a shy Scot. They might seem like opposites, but a few weeks in the Highlands will bring them together in ways they can’t imagine…

Theo Cavendish is the second son of a British viscount, and he’s spent years running from the aristocratic world he grew up in. Betrayal and loss taught him lessons he’s not quick to forget. As an award-winning screenwriter and creator, Theo prefers to throw himself into the world of film and television. He moves from one project to another, never really letting anyone truly know him.

As a housekeeper at the exclusive Ardnoch Estate, shy Sarah McCulloch feels invisible most days. No one really knows her, and they definitely don’t know she’s a bestselling crime writer. She dreams of seeing her series on screen and believes only one person can develop it for television. On the day she quits the estate for good, she shares her secret with club member, Theo, and asks him to consider her books.

Sarah never expected him to say yes or to show up on her doorstep ready to write with her. Or that weeks spent locked up in her cottage would lead them to form an intense but undeniable connection. A bond that Theo is not sure he’s ready to accept, even though he can’t bear to be without her.

However, when they finally venture out of their bubble, Theo finds he’ll have to battle more than his own demons to protect Sarah from hurt. For he has another fan, one intent on bringing the darkest elements of his most famous script to life. And unless he can figure out this real-life antagonist’s next move, Theo could be in danger of losing Sarah forever.

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Meet Samantha

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She's been nominated for several Goodreads Choice Awards. Samantha writes adult contemporary and paranormal romance, YA urban fantasy and YA contemporary fiction and is currently published in 31 countries.
She resides in Scotland.


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