Review: Bad For You by J. Daniels

“If you’re a fan of Kristen Ashley, then you will love this book.” -Aestas Book Blog on Four Letter Word

He didn’t want to be bad. He just didn’t have a choice…

Shayla Perkins isn’t the kind of girl who makes the same mistake twice, especially when it comes to Sean “Stitch” Molina. So when he gives her the world’s biggest rejection, that’s it–she’s done. Until the sexy, silent, unavailable Sean makes Shay a very personal offer. Of course, it still doesn’t mean he’s interested in her. Or does it?

Sean has done things in life. Bad things. And he’s paid the price. All he wants now is to make up for his past by doing good in the present. And no one deserves more good than Shay. Beautiful on the inside and out, Shay is the kind of woman who should be cared for and protected–especially from a man like Sean. He’s tried to keep his feelings for her in check, but a single, reckless impulse pulls them closer than ever before.

Soon the two are sharing their biggest dreams and satisfying their deepest desires. But what will happen if the only way to truly give each other what they want most…is to let each other go?

“The perfect mix of funny, hot and heartwarming. I enjoyed it immensely!” –Mia Sheridan, New York Times bestselling author, on Four Letter Word

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MY REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

You know that book that is just so amazing you want to call and tell all your friends to read it? Well, that’s Bad For You. I cannot get over how awesome it was. It had everything: humor, romance, angst, heart, emotion, depth…I could go on and on.

I always thought no other Dirty Deeds book could top Four Letter Word. The connection between Syd and Brian that started this whole series was one I didn’t think J. Daniels could beat. Well, I was wrong. Bad For You surpassed Four Letter Word by far. The connection between Sean (“Stitch”) and Shay was so raw and so much deeper than I expected. Their romance was not light and fluffy. There was so much for them to overcome — especially for Sean. The darkness they had to navigate to get to each other was heartbreaking. Not that there wasn’t humor. There was a ton of it. It’s what helped bring light to this book and to Sean and Shay.

My favorite thing about Bad For You is the way Sean and Shay supported each other. Sean’s support showed up in the sweetest, most unexpected ways. Shay’s was a little more exuberant and entertaining. When it came down to it, the support they had for each other is what helped build their friendship and relationship. I loved the progression of it.

Bad For You is J. Daniels’ best book yet! I absolutely adored everything about it. I feel like I can’t adequately express how outstanding it was. I guess I’ll just close by saying YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!!

J.Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series, the Alabama Summer series, and the Dirty Deeds series.

She would rather bake than cook, she listens to music entirely too loud, and loves writing stories her children will never read. Her husband and children are her greatest loves, with cupcakes coming in at a close second.

J grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.

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Review: Ryan’s Bed by Tijan

Ryan’s Bed
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: January 22, 2018
Genre: (Mature) Young Adult , Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.

Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.


WOAH. I cannot stop thinking about this book. I actually had a hard time falling asleep after finishing it I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Ryan’s Bed was an interesting book. It definitely fit the Tijan YA mold. Girl who is deeply scarred from an emotional death/family event. She’s tortured by it, but finds comfort in a guy willing to go the distance for her and protect her at all cost. Mackenzie had a little bit of both Samantha (Fallen Crest High) and Alexandra (Broken and Screwed) in her, but that’s where the similarities end. I couldn’t help comparing her story to theirs, but this one was actually very different.

You see, Mackenzie didn’t just lose a sibling, she lost a twin. She lost what she considered to be half of herself to suicide. It sent her over the edge. Mackenzie no longer felt like herself. Her family no longer felt the same. The destruction in the wake her twin’s death felt catastrophic to her. Mackenzie’s grief and anger made Ryan’s Bed a very dark YA read.

I have to admit I had no idea where the story would go even at half way through. Mackenzie was so messed up mentally that I feared there wouldn’t be a good ending. Everything about it was heartbreaking. The sadness of it all consumed me. I didn’t like feeling the way it made me feel…and then there was a subtle reprieve. Slowly, things started coming together in a way I could see some relief.

And then the end came. I have to say I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t prepared.

Ryan’s Bed isn’t a joy to read, but it’s a very well crafted book. If I’m going to be honest, I probably would have given Ryan’s Bed three stars if it wasn’t for that ending. I couldn’t tell where this book was going for the first several chapters. I didn’t know if I wanted to know where it was going at that time. But the progression to the end was good, and then that damn ending was spectacular. So, four stars it is.

You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about the romance in this novel. Ryan’s Bed has a romance, but it’s not the front and center star of the show. Mackenzie’s journey is, and I think it needs to stay that way. All I will say is that I loved Ryan and his support of her.

I can’t end this review without saying that the Author’s Note at the end was worth reading. It helped me process what I had read, and I loved how Tijan’s thoughts about the beginning of this book reflected how I felt. I applaud her for her courage in writing this book.

TIJAN’S ULTIMATE RYAN’S BED GIVEAWAY:

https://tinyurl.com/ryansbedgiveaway

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Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.


So. Stinking. Cute.

Really. That’s all I need to say. I’m not joking.

But I know you’re here for an actual review, so I’ll go ahead and write one.

Foolish Hearts is the story of an average girl navigating friendship, love, and family relationships. Claudia is that average girl. She doesn’t see herself as anything special — but of course she is. (Just like we all are.) Claudia has her best friend, but doesn’t feel the need to really have any other close friends even though she doesn’t go to school with Zoe. She also doesn’t have any desire to fall in love again. Claudia learned how easy it was to have her heart-broken. Claudia’s happy flying under the radar.

Life isn’t that simple, though. When Claudia witnesses a major breakup at school, it has a ripple effect that lands her working on the school play. Suddenly, people are noticing her. She’s being forced to make new friends and there’s this guy who might be into her. All of this makes Claudia uncomfortable, but also teaches her a lot.

Like I said before, Foolish Hearts was so stinking cute. I adored Claudia. I felt a lot like her when I was in high school oh so many years ago. I could relate to feeling average and then shocked when people liked me. I think so many of us feel this way in life, whether it’s in high school or as adults. I loved how much Claudia learned about life and herself throughout the story. It felt so true to real life.

If I adored Claudia, I don’t know how to describe how I felt about Gideon. If you follow my blog or Twitter, you’ll know one of my most favorite characters EVER is Frank Sanger (This Adventure Ends by Mills). My love for Gideon isn’t quite on the Frank Sanger level, but it’s pretty darn close. Gideon was an amazing friend. He put others first, and it did it in a way that was fun and interesting. I couldn’t get enough of his dialog. The things he said. Oh, Emma Mills, you make me smile so much!

I can’t leave out the rest of the characters. They were all awesome. Emma Mills has a way of making a cast of characters as important as the main characters without having them takeover the story. I loved the whole Iris and Paige thing, but especially Iris. That girl was a gem in this story. Same with Noah. He just added that extra something special. And I can’t leave out Claudia’s family — such great storylines! I love that family is actually a big focus in Mills’ books. They’re so often MIA in YA books.

Another thing I must touch on is the drama aspect of Foolish Hearts. Not drama as in what goes down, but drama as in a play. I’ve read books before with a theatrical theme, and they’re not normally my favorite. I loved the way the whole play thing was done in this book! It was fun. It worked well with the story and the characters. I was surprised by how much I loved it! I’m so happy Claudia was the Shakespeare Whisperer.

Obviously, Foolish Hearts gets a standing ovation from me. It was just so stinking cute and amazing and everything I ever want in a YA contemporary. If you haven’t read it yet, you must. If you haven’t read anything yet by Emma Mills, you must go and devour all of her books. They’re simply all so good.

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Narrator: Eileen Stevens
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.


Hmm…This is going to be a tough review to write. Get ready for a long one.

Dumplin’ started out strongly. I loved Willowdean and her declarations about weight. I imagine anyone who has ever been overweight or self-conscious can relate to many of her thoughts and feelings. But…there were so many things that bothered me.

Willowdean’s negativity about herself and others got to me quickly. Her thoughts made me uncomfortable. Listening to them was rough. Mostly, I hated how she thought about and treated people.

I hated how she discounted Mitch and his feelings. Mitch was a nice guy. He didn’t deserve to be led on by Willowdean. She used him for his companionship, and I think she generally liked him, but she let him think they were more than they were. That made me sad. I don’t get why she didn’t feel a spark for him. I felt like there was a spark between them.

I hated how Willowdean thought about all of her new friends. She looked down on them. I didn’t get why she thought she was so much better than them. They were there for her when she was friendless and supported her. I was happy she learned what great people they were, but her thoughts were hurtful and upset me.

I hated Willowdean and Bo. There were some sweet moments between them, and they were a good couple. I just didn’t like how she thought of herself in relation to Bo. I didn’t understand her embarrassment of being seen with him. I get not liking to be the center of attention, but I figured she was be elated to be seen with someone who was so good-looking. (I only say that due to her low self-confidence and how she talked.) It was like being with Bo made her feel bad about herself, and that’s not healthy. Mitch didn’t have that same effect on her.

Last, I hated the way Willowdean handled everything with Ellen. I completely understood it because I’ve felt the way Willowdean felt at times in my life, but I feel like she should have apologized a whole heck of a lot sooner. Friendship is worth more than how she treated it.

This has been really negative so far, so let me tell you some of the things I loved.

I loved Willowdean’s new friends. They were all good people. They added so much to this story.

I loved Willowdean’s rocky relationship with her mom. I could relate to both Willowdean and her mother. You always want what’s best for your kids — want more for them than you had yourself.

I loved Mitch and all of his wisdom. He was a great human being who deserved more.

I loved Bo’s step-mom. She was a little kooky, but sweet.

I loved the performers and bouncer from the gay bar. Oh, and I can’t leave out Dolly. I loved all the Dolly Parton stuff.

I loved the narrator and the way she voiced Willowdean.

I loved how Elle and Willowdean worked out their friendship.

I loved how everything worked out with the pageant and her mom.

Most of all, I loved the many times Julie Murphy gave incredible thoughts and insight.

Despite all of these great things, reading Dumplin’ made me kind of miserable. Maybe it would have been better to read than listen to it. I don’t know. I felt consumed by Willowdean’s negativity and that was just so hard. I don’t know what else to say about this book. I think it will probably resonate differently for each person who reads it.

Review: Royal Ruin by Jessica Peterson

Title: Royal Ruin
Series: Flings with Kings #1
Author: Jessica Peterson
Genre: Royal Romance/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 18, 2018
Blurb
To: Emily@EPDesigns.com
From: HRHKit@PrimrosePalace.org.uk
SUBJECT: ENGAGEMENT CONTRACT (Marked Confidential)

FROM THE DESK OF
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE CHRISTOPHER
Emily—Thank you for joining me for dinner tonight. And for agreeing to my proposal, as ludicrous as it is. Desperate times call for fake engagements. At least in my family.
I am attaching the contract we discussed. Our lawyers asked that I highlight the following clauses:
  • The engagement shall last ninety days
  • Both parties are to appear genuinely in love at all royal appearances
  • Beyond required public displays of affection, there shall be no contact of any kind between the parties
The first half of your payment will be deposited into your account upon the signing of this contract. Be sure to note your ring size. We would like to make prompt delivery of the family emerald. The Queen and I thank you in advance for your discretion.
Cheers,
Kit
P.S.—Sorry to hear about your divorce. Your ex sounds like a proper knob head.
P.P.S.—You looked stunning tonight.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased review.

Royal Ruin is one of those books I wanted to love, but ended up just liking. There was one major reason for that and I’ll get to it soon, but first let me tell you what I loved about this book.

I really enjoy Jessica Peterson’s writing style. I’ve been reading her contemporary romances for a while now, and they are very entertaining. I like how she sets them in countries other than the United States. I also like how she uses first person dual point of view. Her characters always have such distinct voices. Kit and Emily surely did.

I adored Kit. He was a handsome prince, but he was also an amazing guy. The path he chose to follow was very noble. He was so giving of himself to others. I loved his relationship with his family, and how he would do anything for them. He made this book for me.

My problem with Royal Ruin was Emily. I didn’t like her. I couldn’t connect with her. I especially didn’t like her issues with an emotionally physical connection. To me, that was a HUGE issue to have and it was dealt with so quickly. One minute she can’t handle it, the next she’s cured by Kit. Maybe things happen that way, but I was skeptical. I also didn’t like her decisions. She was pretty selfish. For a moment, I actually understood what Luke was saying, and he was supposed to be the jerk in all of this. These things made it hard to get behind Kit’s love for Emily.

Even though I didn’t fall completely in love with Kit and Emily’s relationship, I did like the majority of the story. I especially liked the how the story ended. The way it all wrapped up was perfect. It had me rooting for Kit and Emily when I wasn’t so sure about them before.

Purchase Links
99c for release week only!
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Author Bio
Jessica Peterson began reading romance to escape the decidedly unromantic awkwardness of her teenage years. Having found solace in
the likes of Mr. Darcy, Jamie Fraser (OMG love the gingers!), and Edward Cullen, it wasn’t long before she began creating tall, dark and handsome heroes of her own.
She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, Mr.
Peterson, and her smelly Goldendoodle Martha Bean. She is the author of the super sexy STUDY ABROAD and FLINGS WITH KINGS series. Check her out at www.jessicapeterson.com
Author Links

 

Release Day Review & Excerpt: Man Card by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

Man Card
Series: Man Hands, #2
Authors: Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby
Publication Date: January 15, 2018
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Nothing ventured, nothing banged…

Ash
I still don’t know how it happened. One minute I was arguing with my arrogant competitor–our usual trash-talk over who deserves the larger commission. But somehow I went from throwing down to kneeling down…
It can never happen again. I don’t even like Braht. He’s too slick. He’s a manipulating mansplaining party boy in preppy clothes.
So why can’t I get him out of my head?

Braht
There are two things I know without question. One: Ash and I are destined for each other. Two: never trust a man with a unibrow.
Ash is my missing my piece. She’s the sweet cream to my gourmet espresso. And nothing gets me going faster than her contempt for me. They don’t call her the Ashkicker for nothing.
Eventually I’ll win her over…if my past doesn’t ruin everything first.


I was eager to get my hands on Man Card after reading Man Hands. Ash and Braht’s characters were so lively and vivid, and I wanted more of them. They had this amazing love/hate thing going on and I couldn’t wait to see the hate implode and love win.

Man Card was a nice, big surprise. I was shocked at how much it surprised me. There was way more going on in this story than I expected. Man Card had a ton of hilarious moments and some serious ones, but it also had a little bit of romantic suspense built-in. I was surprised by how much I loved that aspect of it. What went down made me appreciate Braht more than I might have otherwise.

Braht was a character that I could have disliked. I almost did. His cockiness was so over the top in the first book that I wanted to roll my eyes at him all of the time. Getting to know him through his point of view really helped me bond with his character. There was so much more hiding behind his outward appearance and comical words. I loved Ash. There were so many layers to her. Her backstory went deep, and provided some great bonding moments for her and Braht.

Ash and Braht were so perfect for each other. They both liked to be in charge of everything in life, but I loved how they were able to find small compromises together. Their shared experiences built a nice bond. Plus, their attraction to each other was so fierce! I loved how Braht slowly wore Ash down.

Another thing I loved was seeing all of my favorite Man Hands characters again! Catching up with Brynn and Tom was so much fun. Getting to know Sadie better was also fun, but, since her book is next, also a little sad. I’m really looking forward to reading her book next and getting her happy ending!

Overall, I loved Man Card. I loved it just as much as I loved Man Hands, but in a completely different way. It was definitely its own hilarious story. Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby did amazing things in this one!

PURCHASE LINK:

http://geni.us/MCAmazon

EXCERPT:

Name your other favorite movies,” I challenge Braht.

All of them?” He chugs his margarita.

Hmm. Top ten? Top five?”

That’s totally easy,” he says. Somehow I’ve gotten closer to him on the floor. When he sits back, I actually snuggle in beside him. He’s wearing a ridiculously soft shirt that feels good against my skin. And I watch with fascination as he ticks off the names of films on his fingers. When Harry Met Sally. The Devil Wears Prada. Roman Holiday. Clueless. And Working Girl.”

I burst out laughing. I can’t help it. Those are all chick flicks. You should just hand over your man card right now.”

Not a chance.” Braht’s expression grows intense. In the first place, I gave you a very thorough demonstration of my man card last week. I don’t remember hearing any complaints.”

I swallow hard, because this is certainly true.

And secondly, you’re looking at this all backward.”

I…am?” And why can’t I look away? He has the most beautiful, intelligent eyes.

Yeah, you are,” he whispers. It’s the guy who has a firm grip on his man card that can hold your purse. He’s not afraid to be seen with that Tory Burch you like to carry—nice color, by the way. He’ll free up your hands because he likes your hands, and he remembers all the terrific things you can use them for.”

Oh,” I say slowly. Now my fingers itch to reach out for him. I have to make fists with both hands so I won’t do it.

Furthermore, he’s not afraid to quote Working Girl. Because Joan Cusack is a genius. And who wouldn’t want to say Melanie Griffith’s best line out loud?”

I can’t help saying it with him, and together we sound like the world’s horniest Greek chorus: I have a head for business and a body for sin.”

Sin sounds pretty good right now, actually. But Braht’s not done with his speech. Any man who tells you that chick flicks are for pussies can’t be any good in bed. Because that man does not speak the language of women. He doesn’t know that a little luxury can erase a shitty day of worrying about your ex…”

Braht takes my hand in his and begins to massage it. He has a great technique, applying gentle pressure between each joint. I relax just a little bit more against him.

“…That man doesn’t speak the language because he’s afraid of sounding like a girl. But fuck that noise, honey bear. If a man doesn’t have the vocabulary to describe a satin teddy with peekaboo lace and mother-of-pearl snaps at the crotch, he can’t buy it for you and then strategically ask you to wear it. He can’t plan ahead to blow your mind sometime by lifting your skirt somewhere semi-public and dangerous. And he can’t get down on his knees and kiss that lace and then pop open those snaps while you bite your own hand to keep from screaming when you climax.” Braht takes a deep breath and lets it out in one hot gust. Fuck. What was the point of this speech?”

“Um…” My voice is hoarse, and my face is suddenly very hot. Let’s not even mention my nipples. Man cards, I think.” But I’m not sure, because everything tingles.

Right,” he says with a sigh. Still got mine. Shall we watch Working Girl next?”

Okay,” I breathe, sinking a little further into his comforting embrace.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHORS:

Sarina Bowen
USA Today Bestselling Author
@sarinabowen
Tanya Eby
Audie-Award-Winning Narrator
tanyaeby.com
@Blunder_Woman

 

Review: My Enemy Next Door by Whitney G. & Nicole London

My Enemy Next Door
Authors: Whitney G., Nicole London
Publication Date: January 11, 2018
Publisher: Nicole London & Whitney G.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

We used to be close.
We used to be best friends.
Until we became enemies all over again…

Courtney Ryan ruined our on and off again friendship with one swipe of her sexy, red pen. After the final rude message she wrote in my yearbook, I decided that we didn’t need to see each other anymore. (But if we ever did, I would show her exactly why I had every reason to be “cocky,” and make her admit that I really *was* “that damn sexy.”)

Now that it’s ten years later, I’ve graduated from law school at the top of my class, and I’m being recruited to work at the number one law firm in New York City.

Since I’m in desperate need of a change and want to meet new people, I don’t hesitate to accept the offer.

Until I find out that Courtney Ryan graduated from law school, too.
Until I realize that she’ll be working at the same exact firm, in the office right across from me.

And if this timing isn’t unfortunate enough, she’s far more tempting and sexier than I originally remembered.
(Oh, and last night I found out that she lives right next door…)

We don’t have to be close.
We don’t have to be best friends.
But she’s going to pay me back for making us enemies all over again…


My Enemy Next Door is a romance I liked, but I could have loved. It was the story of  former high school best friends and lovers whose romance ends horribly. They get a second chance at love as adults when the enemies end up working together.

I loved the second chance and enemies to lovers tropes in this book. Courtney and Jace’s high school romance was sweet. They were opposites who connected in a fun, cool way. Even their demise (when revealed) was cool — and relevant to today’s society. I also loved their stint as enemies. Their high jinks cracked me up.

So, what kept me from loving My Enemy Next Door? It was the combination of a couple of things. First, it started out a little roughly. It wasn’t the actual story, but the characters that I wasn’t sure of. Every single one of them came across in an argumentative way. Their words were so brisk and unkind. The only one who seemed nice was Jace, and he was supposed to be the bad boy. It was uncomfortable to read all the negativity. That got better as the story went on, but it left a mark on the story for me. The other big thing that stood out was the ending. The book was short, and I think there should have been more meat to it, but that’s not what I’m complaining about. The ending was just so abrupt. It was done in a cute, but kind of impersonal way. I needed a stronger conclusion.

Overall, My Enemy Next Door was a cute enemies to lovers / second chance romance. It was fun to read, and had some really great parts. It just needed a couple of tweaks, in my opinion.