Mini Reviews: The Girl in the Love Song & 40-Love

The Girl in the Love Song
Series: Lost Boys, #1
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: June 7, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

At Santa Cruz Central High School, they called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys…

Miller Stratton is a survivor. After a harrowing childhood of poverty, he will do anything it takes to find security for himself and his mom. He’s putting all his hopes and dreams in the fragile frame of his guitar and the beauty he creates with its strings and his soulful voice.

Until Violet.

No one expects to meet the love of their life at age thirteen. But the spunky rich girl steals Miller’s heart and refuses to give it back.

Violet McNamara’s life hasn’t been as simple as it looks. Her picture-perfect family is not so perfect after all. Her best friend Miller is her one constant and she is determined not to ruin their friendship with romantic complications.

But the heart wants what it wants. As Miller’s star begins to rise to stratospheric heights, what will it take for Violet to realize that she’s the girl in all of his love songs?

Lost Boys is a new series of interconnected, coming-of-age standalones from USA Today bestselling author Emma Scott, coming in 2020

My thoughts:

This book was VERY angst filled. More so than any other book I’ve read by this author. The level of angst was too much for me, honestly. Even though I loved the characters and the story, I had a hard time bringing myself to read it. After about 20% I ended up skimming through until Part 4 where I started reading again. I hate that I did that, but I didn’t want to not finish it. It really was a vbeautiful story with a fantastic ending.

40-Love
Series: There’s Something About Marysburg, #2
Author: Olivia Dade
Publication Date: May 16, 2020
Publisher: Hussies & Harpies Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

This match is no game.

When a rogue wave strips Tess Dunn of her bikini top, desperate, half-naked times call for desperate, please-cover-me-kids-are-coming-closer measures. Enter Lucas Karlsson, AKA that flirty Swede in the water nearby. When he prevents her bare buoys from being exposed to fellow vacationers, even an ocean can’t drown the sparks that fly.

Lucas, a former top-level tennis pro now giving lessons at the resort, fled there after the abrupt, painful end to his injury-plagued career. But he’s finally ready to move on with his life—and after a few late-night, hands-on sessions with Tess, he’s eager to prove he’s the ace she wants.

But this match comes with challenges: She’s forty, and at twenty-six, he’s barely old enough to rent a car. Worse, they only have two weeks together before Tess returns to her assistant-principal life in Virginia. During that brief time, they’ll have to play hard, take a few risks, and find out whether their chemistry is a one-shot wonder…or whether they’re meant to be doubles partners for life.

My thoughts:

I’m pretty new to Olivia Dade’s writing. This only my second book by her. I really like how she combines strong, relatable women with hot guys. It’s a nice change from perfect bodies all the time. I enjoyed this book a lot, but there were times where the MC’s hangups about her body and perceived self bugged me. I got over it, though, because I loved the guy who won her heart. It was a fun vacation read.

Review: Hands Down (Mariana Zapata)

Hands Down
Author: Mariana Zapata
Publication Date: July 2, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Before he was Big Texas, he was Zac the Snack Pack.

Bianca Brannen knows time—mostly—heals all wounds. Including those your once loved ones might have unintentionally given you. (Those just take longer.)

She thinks she’s ready when a call has her walking back into her old friend’s life. Or at least as prepared as possible to see the starting quarterback in the National Football Organization. Before the lights, the fans, and the millions, he’d been a skinny kid with a heart of gold.

Waltzing out of Zac Travis’s life should be easy. Just as easy as he walked out of hers.


Sigh. I am so happy Mariana Zapata wrote Hands Down. I didn’t know I needed a story about Zac (The Wall of Winnipeg and Me) or Bianca (The Best Thing), but I am so glad I got one. Hands Down was a happy place for me. It was a a slow burn romance that I wanted to keep burning. I loved the way it combined friendship and love. There was also a great family aspect. This was one of those books that had it all. pussy888official

Now, if you’re familiar with Zapata’s writing you will understand what I’m talking about next. There are times this book is a little too wordy. There are times the words and thoughts feels redundant. I knew this was the way that it was going to be, so it was easy to look past for the amazing characters and their story.I just went with the flow, got lost in the story, and forgot that things could be a little repetitive and predictable. I did that, and I fell in love with this book.

I did have one big beef with this book in the form of nicknames. How many nicknames for a character are too many? I have never thought about this before, but one. One nickname is more than enough. There were WAY TOO MANY nicknames in this book. For Zac: Big Texas and Snack Pack. Probably only needed one of those, but I guess both worked. It was Bianca’s nicknames that killed me: Bibi, Little Texas, Blanca (just a jerky boss, but added to the number), and kiddo. Yes, KIDDO. That one right there is what killed me. Zac called Bianca “kiddo”. Yes, it was leftover from childhood, but STILL. They hadn’t seen each other in 10! years! That one needed to go. At least before they began a relationship. ICK.

Anyways. After finishing Hands Down, all I could think was that I wanted another new book by Mariana Zapata like now. I enjoyed this one so much, and finishing left me feeling both happy and sad. I think I’m going to have to either re-read this one soon or another one of hers.

Series Review: Game On (Kristen Callihan)

 I picked up The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan because I needed the first book in a series by an author I hadn’t read yet for the New to Me Author Summer Challenge. When I did that, I had no idea it would turn into a binge read. Thanks to the challenge, I have found a new sports romance author to love. Here are my mini reviews for each book in the series.


The Hook Up (Book 1) ★ ★ ★ ★

I really enjoyed Drew and Anna’s story. He was a cocky football player looking for more. She was a girl who didn’t see herself as the bombshell she was and didn’t want a relationship. They had great chemistry. I do have to say that at times this book felt a little long, but the pay off was well worth it.

The Friend Zone (Book 2) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Wow. I’m impressed. This is one of my new favorite friends to lovers books. Between the texts and the chemistry, I was sold. I loved Ivy and Gray together. This will be my favorite book in the series, I just know it.

The Game Plan (Book 3) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Did I say The Friend Zone would be my favorite? Well, The Game Plan surpassed it.  I loved Dex and Fiona just as much as I loved Ivy and Gray. Dex and Fiona surpassed them based on their chemistry and emotional connection, though. That emotional connection was something else.

The Hot Shot (Book 4) ★ ★ ★ ★

Don’t let the 4 stars fool you. I enjoyed this book almost as much as the last two. When it comes to rating it, I felt like I had to give it less because it was missing something the last two had. Not sure what it was because I loved Finn and Chess. The way they started out as friends was cute. Their relationship drama didn’t seem to be as big as the past three books, which I was thankful for, but it was there. It was a great addition to the series.

Conclusions?

I really hope we get more books in the Game On series and soon. I loved every minute I spent binging this football romance series. I see a ton of possibilities in this football world for future stories.

Review: Finding Mr. Right Next Door (Sarah Ballance)

Finding Mr. Right Next Door
Author: Sarah Ballance
Publication Date: May 11, 2020
Publisher: Entangled: Lovestruck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

For Lexi Dean, burning down her kitchen was disaster enough. Agreeing to move in next door with her totally off-limits best friend, Matt Freeman, until her house is livable again?

Utter madness.

They’ve always been close, but this is ridiculous. If she’s not bumping into him at the refrigerator, he’s at the front door giving her date the third degree. And slipping between his borrowed sheets? That’s about as distracting as listening to his shower run, because suddenly all she can think about is rivulets of water cascading down is spectacular body—the one he seems to be going out of his way to make sure she notices.

Not that it matters. He can flaunt his firefighter abs around her all he wants. They already share everything—their jobs, their friends, their backyard, even their dog—and that means only one thing: Lexi is not going to risk losing any of it by dipping a single toe in the temptation that is Matt Freeman.

Lexi may not know how to handle a fire extinguisher, but this is one fire that just might burn them both if they’re not careful…


It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Sarah Ballance. I don’t know why her books fell off my radar, but I’m happy I came across Finding Mr. Right Next Door. This romance was exactly the type I was looking for: fun, light, fast-paced, and sweet. I loved the whole best friends to lovers trope that was going on here. Matt and Lexi were just too cute for words.

There are only two things I can find fault with. One, this book was written in third person and it would have been even better in first. Two, I would have loved for it to be longer. It was really more a novella than a full length novel. Other than, it was darn near perfect.

I guess this was a second in a series of connected romances, but I didn’t even notice that. I’m excited to go back and read the first book if it’s as adorable as this one.

Review: One Big Mistake (Whitney Barbetti)

One Big Mistake
Author: Whitney Barbetti
Publication Date: February 27, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is an unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

One night together could ruin everything…

Keane Colburn was my best friend. Ever since childhood, we could always count on each other to be there no matter what—though when I confessed my love to him, things didn’t turn out as planned.

Thankfully, my little crush didn’t ruin our friendship. I shoved those feelings to the back of my mind, watching him chase after other girls and silently wishing it was me. I resigned us to friendship—that was more important than anything else.

But a drunken one-night stand changed everything. Because even though we vowed to forget about it, I couldn’t get it out of my head. And as old memories began to rise to the surface, our lives collided in ways we had never imagined.


I’ve been in this weird reading mood lately — almost a funk of sorts. I’ve read some good books and I’ve read some mediocre books. When One Big Mistake hit my Kindle, I thought, “This is the book I’ve been waiting for.” I don’t know how I knew it was going to get me out of my funk, but I was right. One Big Mistake WAS the book I was waiting for.

Why? Well, let me break it down without giving too much away.

This is a best friends to lovers story that starts off with an accidental bang…if you know what I’m saying. Keane and Navy have a lot of feelings to work through. Navy – her unrequited crush on Keane. Keane – not seeing Navy as someone other than a best friend. It’s all very cute, even when it was a little distressing.

Navy is a nice girl who tries to help everyone. She puts herself last. The little distressing I talked about before goes with this aspect of her personality. It is both one of the best and worst things about her. A few times I wanted to give her a good shake. Keane, on the other hand, is a much more relaxed character. He is kind of oblivious, but totally lovable. Together, they balance each other out in a good way. Their friendship and possible relationship is super sweet and all sorts of fun.

A couple other things to come play in this book. Family has a big impact. Keane’s family issues are subtler in this book, but just as important as the family drama going on in Navy’s life. Navy’s sisters…Oh please, dear God. Do not let my daughter act like them when she gets older!

One thing that surprised me was I expected other friends to be a bigger part of this book.  This books is related to One Little Lie and I just expected those characters to be a larger part of the story. They all weren’t, but at least Tori played a little part. Navy’s interactions with her were priceless and important.

Overall, One Big Mistake was a great best friends to lovers romance. I could tell Whitney Barbetti put a lot of thought into the actions and reactions of Keane and Navy. Their relationship felt like something that could truly happen in real life between best friends. I loved every minute of it.

Review: That Secret Crush (Meghan Quinn)

That Secret Crush
Series: Getting Lucky, #3
Author: Meghan Quinn
Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Montlake
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn brings more humor and heart with the third novel of her Getting Lucky series: a story about breaking curses and laying your heart on the line.

What happens when your secret crush isn’t so secret anymore?

I’ve had feelings for Eve Roberts for as long as I can remember, but because she also happens to be the twin sister of my best friend, Eric, I’ve never acted on my feelings and long ago resigned myself to keeping my crush under wraps.

But after a terrible falling-out with Eric involving a failed restaurant venture and plenty of blame on both sides, I’m back in Port Snow without my best friend and without any direction. But can you guess who’s here? Eve. And my attraction to her is as strong as ever.

As old feelings rush back, Eve and I find ourselves pulled together, whether we like it or not. Lines are crossed, secrets are kept, and we soon discover that the difference between love and friendship may not be so black and white, after all.

Everyone wants that secret crush to love them back…but will I be ready when she does?


If you wanted to know if the Getting Lucky series could get any better…the answer is YES. Yes, it could and it did with That Secret Crush. Going into this book, I didn’t remember anything about Reid Knightly. I didn’t even remember his character from the first couple of books other than his name. Well, Reid must have been saving all of his pizazz for his own book because he definitely stood out in That Secret Crush.

Reid was a man whose dreams had been crushed early on in adulthood. He just gave up and went with good enough. It made him cranky. I didn’t mind his crankiness, but what I loved was the the guy he was underneath it. He was teasing, fun, and joyful. The person who brought all of those qualities out in him was Eve.

Eve was the perfect love interest for Reid. Having grown up together (Reid’s best friend was Eve’s twin brother), they knew it each other so well and understood each other well. She could put up with sexual humor and moments of stupidity better than anyone. The only thing they didn’t know was their secret crushes on each other. It made their acting on their attractions that much more satisfying.

I don’t want to say too much more about this story. Honestly, I could go on and on about how much I loved it and why. I just loved how the entire romance and story around it played out. I loved how Meghan Quinn added in her rom-com humor through Reid’s character. It was all so much fun. That Secret Crush is definitely my new favorite in this series and moving toward the top of my list of all-time favorite Meghan Quinn books.

Review: Heartland (Sarina Bowen)

Heartland
Series: True North, #7
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.


Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.
But I know better than to confess.
Now that we’re both in college together, I’m seeing a new side of him. College Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.
Until the night I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.
But the cool morning light shows me how badly I’ve endangered our friendship. And I don’t know if anything will be the same again.


From the moment I opened Heartland, I felt like I was back where I needed to be. Reading a True North novel is like coming home. Well, all of Sarina Bowen’s books feel like coming home to me, but especially this series. There’s just something about small farm town Vermont that makes me feel all warm and gooey inside.

I normally start out a review with what I love about a book, but with Heartland I’m going to start with the one and only thing that drove me a little nuts. If you’re a fan of this series, then you know Dylan Shipley is a man who likes the ladies. He’s a commitment phobe. There’s some other woman drama in the beginning of this book that made me cringe. It wasn’t so much that it made me want to stop reading. It did make me question Chastity’s sanity a bit.  BUT, as a die hard Bowen fan, I knew she had a path in this romance that would lead me to happiness and it did.

Despite Dylan’s wild woman ways, I still loved his character. Mrs. Shipley only raises the best of children, and Dylan was a guy who really cared about people — especially Chastity. (She’s the girl who ran away from the cult and is now neighbors with the Shipleys.) He had some stuff to work out in this book, but I loved how it all came together for him.

Chastity was a breath of fresh air when it comes to sheltered, virginal young women characters. I loved how she challenged the beliefs she was raised with and came to terms with how she viewed sex and relationships. This book was sex positive in ways I wasn’t expecting and loved.

Dylan and Chastity’s romance is one of those book romances where you can’t wait for them to get together because you’re already invested in them as characters from previous books. It wasn’t an easy road to romance, but it was one that was appreciated because of all the prior knowledge I had of them, their families, and the town they grew up in. That’s not to say you couldn’t enjoy it without reading the previous six books, it was just more fun having had the knowledge to understand and love the characters despite their flaws.

As for the rest of the Shipleys and friends… All of my old favorites were around to spend some time with Dylan and Chastity. I love how they were woven into the story. There were also a couple of newer characters that I loved meeting. I’m pretty sure Sarina Bowen gave us some hints at what’s next in the True North series, and I honestly can’t wait!

Heartland was a great trip “home” to Vermont. Despite a few reservations at first, I ended up truly loving Dylan and Chastity’s romance. It was sweet with moments of humor and a couple of tears. If you’re a fan of this series, you will love finding out how they get their HEA.

All in one link page: https://shor.by/Heartland

Goodreads: https://geni.us/HeartlandGoodreads

VENDOR LINKS

Amazon https://geni.us/HeartlandAmazon
Apple https://geni.us/HeartlandApple
Kobo https://geni.us/HeartlandKobo
Nook https://geni.us/HeartlandNook
Google https://geni.us/HeartlandGoogle

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue (Lauren Layne)

Marriage on Madison Avenue
Series: Central Park Pact, #3
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, the “queen of witty dialogue” (Rachel Van Dyken, New York Times bestselling author), comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?


Lauren Layne ended her popular Central Park Pact series on a high note with Marriage on Madison Avenue. Audrey and Clark’s romance was other readers might have been wanting since the very beginning on the series, but it was one I didn’t know I needed until I read it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good friends to lovers romance. I also know Lauren Layne excels at that type of story. I just didn’t pick up romance vibes between Audrey and Clark prior to reading this book.

That’s actually a cool statement because Audrey and Clark didn’t feel the vibes until Marriage on Madison Avenue either. Nothing like a little fake engagement between best friends to put things in perspective. I loved the way they navigated their new feelings for each other and how their relationship changed with this engagement. The only thing that would have made it better for me was if the book had been in first person instead of third. I would have connected to it even more than I already did.

Marriage on Madison Avenue was a very sweet fake relationship romance between best friends. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Lauren Layne. I can’t wait to read what she’s got coming next!

Series Review: Kiss Me (Emma Hart)

Emma Hart is one of those authors who can be hit or miss for me — most being hits. I really wanted to read the second book in the Kiss Me series, so I decided to go ahead and binge the entire thing. Here are my short but sweet thoughts on each of these Contemporary Romances.


Kiss Me Not★ ★ ★

To be honest, Kiss Me Not is not my favorite Emma Hart novel. It was a fun read, but it didn’t feel like it had much of story to it. Halley’s personality was kind of off-putting. She was supposed to be cooky and she her weirdness as something to hide behind, but I didn’t really find her all that cooky besides the racoon thing. I didn’t get the enemies vibe she had going with Preston. She had a crush on him, yet she threw all this nasty banter his way. He gave it right back, but it just didn’t make sense to me. What was adorable was the way Halley and Preston ended up getting together. The end of the book reinforced that fact that I wanted to read Kiss Me Tonight.


Kiss Me Tonight★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Kiss Me Tonight was almost everything I hoped it was going to be. I loved Reagan and Noah together. The way they met over text was hilarious and continued to be hilarious as they texted throughout the story. Reagan was a little over the top, but her personality felt true to her character. Noah was, well Noah. I loved him. The only slight issue I had with this story was the short length of time it took place over. I would have loved to have seen it play out over months, not just weeks.


Kiss Me Again★ ★ ★ ★

Kiss Me Again was and wasn’t a lot like Kiss Me Not. Again, both Ava and Ethan have been secretly in love with each other for years. They also treat each other like dirt and argue constantly. Their connection, Ava’s brother Leo, has always known they like each other. That’s where the similarities end. Ava and Ethan go all out war with each other and I loved the hi-jinks. I still didn’t get the animosity, but it was easy to stomach this go around. I enjoyed this one more than the first one. It had me laughing a lot.

Overall thoughts on this series:

Kiss Me ties together by the three best friends who are main characters. They all had over the top personalities that would probably rub a lot of men or even people wrong. Halley and Ava’s enemies (or really you could just call it being mean to your crush) relationships were almost too similar. My favorite of the bunch had to be Reagan’s book with all the hilarious texting. Overall, it was a good series.

Review: The One for You (Roni Loren)

The One for You
Series: The Ones Who Got Away, #4
Author: Roni Loren
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren’s unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.
Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn’t supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn’t know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn’t let anybody stand in her way

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn’t know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he’ll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he’s ever loved.


Roni Loren saved the best for last with The One for You. It is by far my favorite book in The Ones Who Got Away series. I want to say there was something so special about it, but it wasn’t just one thing. It was the whole package.

Kincaid has always been the character who stood out for me throughout the whole series. She’s the reason why I kept reading the series because I didn’t want to miss out on anything that led up to her book. I was greatly rewarded for keeping up with the series because Kincaid’s story was EVERYTHING. She thought she lost everything that fateful night of the shooting. While she did lose someone very important to her, she didn’t lose everything. I loved how it took her estranged best friend Ash turning up in town to show her that.

Ash… I didn’t expect his back story to be as important to me as Kincaid’s, but it was. He was such a great guy. He was generous and kind. Ash truly wanted the people he loved to be happy, even if it was at his own expense. His friendship with Kincaid and the direction it took in this book warmed my heart. It was the type of best friends to lovers / almost second chance at love story a romance reader loves.

I truly adored The One for You. It brought the entire The Ones Who Got Away series full circle and ended it in the best way possible. Kudos to Loren for giving us the story we have been waiting for.