Review: Lake Redstone (J.D. Hollyfield)

Lake Redstone
Author: J.D. Hollyfield
Publication Date: July 22, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Casey doesn’t have much luck in the dating department, so when her girlfriends ditch their girls only weekend for a couple’s retreat, she’s forced to take desperate measures.

Refusing to be the only single one, she does what any quick-thinking girl would do:

She lies.

It was almost too easy hiring a stranger to pretend to be her hot, rich, successful boyfriend. What she didn’t plan on was him being hot, successful, and way too much trouble for her liking.

Jim was in a slump in his everyday life. He was bored and needed something to spice up his life. Accepting a gig to play the perfect boy toy was not what he had in mind, but it was too good to turn down.

What he didn’t plan for was the smokin’ little spitfire who hired him. It’s a con, a job, a fraud. But the more she’s in his presence, the more he realizes she may be more than just a ruse.

Three days at a lake house.

Two strangers who cause a lot of mayhem.

One little lie.


Lake Redstone is one of my favorite books of the summer. It’s a fake relationship romantic comedy that could easily be a movie — I seriously spent time thinking about which actor would play what character before I went to bed last night.

In Lake Redstone, single Casey’s much-needed girls trip to some place like Mexico turns into a couples trip to the lake. To avoid feeling like a reject, Casey puts up an ad for a fake boyfriend for the weekend. She has no idea she’s about to meet the guy of her dreams. Jim thought Why not? when he saw Casey’s ad. The worst thing that could happen would be that he could end up in a body bag. He’s pleasantly surprised by Casey, but also wonders just how crazy this beautiful woman is that she has to hire a boyfriend for the weekend.

J.D. Hollyfield’s writing sparkled in Lake Redstone. Her brand of humor is what set this book apart from other fake romance contemporaries. It was funny and sometimes bordered on ridiculous, but in the best way. I loved that she gave me both Casey and Jim’s point of views because knowing what both of them were thinking made the romance even stronger.

Casey the perfect hot mess. She had nothing but everything going for her all at once. Casey was the wild child of her group who enjoyed her life, but also felt like a failure when all her friends were thriving. I loved how her imperfections were what drew Jim to her.

Jim was a great surprise — to both Casey and myself. He fit in with her and her friends so easily. There wasn’t an awkwardness or anything of just having met these people. He also had a lot in common with Casey, and I loved how their relationship didn’t feel like instant love because of how well they could understand each other.

Back to those friends… I want to be in their friend group! They were so much fun! They were all so different and each had their own piece of crazy going on, but they were tight and really cared about each other. I especially loved Jim and Mick’s bromance. Gosh, it couldn’t get much better than that. Seriously, make this movie so I can see this bromance!

I just really loved this book so much! I want everyone who likes a good fake relationship romance to read it. The only thing I hesitated over while reading this book was that the end wrapped up a little too conveniently, but I still didn’t hate that. It was actually really cute.

Mini Reviews: YA Contemporaries

Summer has put me in YA contemporary romance reading mood. I love that because it’s given me the opportunity to read some books off my TBR that I hadn’t been in the mood for. Here are three short reviews for a few of the YA contemporaries I’ve read recently.

The Stand-In Boyfriend
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

The Stand-In Boyfriend is one if those fun YA fake relationship books. Popular soccer star Chase gets Livy to be his fake girlfriend so he can keep an ex away and she can make her best friend / crush notice her. Chase isn’t exactly truthful in his pact with Livy, though, and as days go by their fake relationship starts to feel real. It was cute, but pretty angsty. Livy’s feelings for Jessie drove me nuts when I saw how he treated her. Chase’s dishonesty with Livy drove me crazy because he was such a great guy. I wanted to whack Livy over the head a couple of times because of the decisions she made. Even though it all drove me a little nuts, I was completely invested. I adored Livy and Chase together and was rooting for this fake relationship to become real. The end of the story made up for all the frustration I felt. I’m really excited to read more from this series. (Thanks to Stephanie for recommending this book!)

Fake It Till You Break It
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Another fake relationship.. I picked up Fake It Till You Break It on my quick visit to Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR. I loved Jenn P. Nguyen’s The Way to Game the Walk of Shame, so I knew I wanted to read her sophomore novel. It was just as cute as that first book. I loved how Mia and Jake’s relationship went from enemies who were forced to play nice to fake relationship to maybe more. It was such a fun, quick read. It was perfect for summer.

Second Chance Summer
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I hate to admit it, but Second Chance Summer is one of the books that has been on my Goodreads TBR the longest. Everyone always says how emotional it is and to have tissues ready. That put me off for a long time. I wanted to be in the right frame of mind. When I finished Nguyen’s book, I wanted to keep my YA binge going so I immediately dived into this one without giving it a second thought. There were definitely sad vibes throughout and it had me sobbing at the end. It also had an air of mystery revolving around Taylor’s past…which I loved but thought was weird because could she did at 12 years old that would be this lasting? Overall, it was a deeply touching read.

Review: The Prenup (Lauren Layne)

The Prenup
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: July 11, 2019
Publisher: Headline Eternal
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

My name is Charlotte Spencer and, ten years ago, I married my brother’s best friend. I haven’t seen him since.

Charlotte Spencer grew up on the blue-blooded Upper East Side of Manhattan but she never wanted the sit-still-look-pretty future her parents dictated for her. Enter Colin Walsh, her brother’s quiet, brooding, man-bun-sporting best friend, and with him a chance to escape.

He’s far from Charlotte’s dream guy as but they need each other for one thing: marriage. One courthouse wedding later, Charlotte’s inheritance is hers to start a business in San Francisco and Irish-born Colin has a Green Card.

Ten years later, Colin drops a bombshell: the terms of their prenup state that before either can file for divorce, they have to live under the same roof for three months.

Suddenly this match made in practicality is about to take on whole new meaning…


The Prenup is the perfect example of why I love Lauren Layne’s writing. The minute I started reading The Prenup I had a huge smile on my face. I was immediately addicted to the story. Plus, her words are so much fun. That may sound like a weird way to put it, but the way she puts sentences together somehow infuses them with happy emotion. I don’t know how Lauren Layne does it, but I love it.

What made The Prenup so great was chemistry between the characters. They were opposites in demeanor. Charlotte could be described as a little materialistic, upbeat, and a lot stubborn. Colin was uptight, quiet, and intense. They rubbed each other wrong, but somehow it was so right. They had this fun banter — if you can call it that because Colin was sometimes a silent communicator. Every interaction between them was highly entertaining. I truly felt like I was watching two people fall for each other.

I always enjoy Lauren Layne’s books, but I found a new favorite in The Prenup. It was everything I expected from LL and more. I highly recommend it for fans of fake relationships or romantic comedies. It was so much fun!

Series Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Losing It
Series: Losing It, #1
Author: Cora Carmack
Narrator: Phoebe Strole
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Virginity.

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible—a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half a brain would ever believe.

And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theater professor.

She’d left him naked in her bed about eight hours earlier. . . .

I hadn’t read this book before now because I didn’t think I would like it. I’m not a fan of the whole student-teacher forbidden romance thing. As a parent, those type of romances disturb and concern me. Losing It didn’t bother me, though. Cora Carmack did a very good job of not crossing over a line I couldn’t handle. This student-teacher romance worked for me for a number of reasons.

  • Bliss was a college senior. She was an adult a few years over the age of 18.
  • Garrick wasn’t too much older than her. He had recently graduated from college himself.
  • Bliss and Garrick’s relationship went slow. Based on the title, that seems false. It was truly a very slow burn romance.
  • There weren’t a lot of scenes where I worried they were going to get caught. The ones that were made me laugh. They were actually kind of funny.
  • I also think that listening to the audio version of the book made a difference. It was like being even more in Bliss’ head and feeling her feelings.

All of these things made the student-teacher concept easier on me. It also helped that I loved the writing and the characters. This book really surprised me, and in a good way. I truly wanted Bliss and Garrick to be together.

The only things that bugged me were lack of depth/growth of the characters and the switch from the entire book being in Bliss’ point of view to Garrick’s for the epilogue. I wanted Bliss to learn something more and to get a greater insight into Garrick. As for the narration switch, it was mostly because the narrator. He talked so much faster than the person who did Bliss. It was a shocking change. That wasn’t that big of deal, though. I got used to it. Overall, Losing It was a good classic NA read.


Faking It
Series: Losing It, #2
Author: Cora Carmack
Narrators: Emma Galvin, Dan Bittner
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.

Review:

Faking It was definitely more my style than Losing It. I really enjoyed this take on the fake relationship trope. I liked Cade in Losing It, and was happy he got a chance at real love. He was slightly broken, but his heartache was nothing compared to Max’s. I loved what Cade was able to bring to Max’s life. It was really sweet.

Faking It felt like a standard new adult romance. It had two broken characters who didn’t realize they were looking for the wrong thing until they found each other. The story had a little angst, but it wasn’t over the top. Faking It is definitely a must read for new adult fans.


Finding It
Series: Losing It, #3
Author: Cora Carmack
Narrators: Soneela Nankani
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong . . .

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life . . . or that’s what she keeps telling herself.

It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.

Review:

Finding It was my least favorite book in the series. It had several things stacked against it. I like books set in countries outside the U.S., but books where a character travels around don’t always work for me. This one did at times, but didn’t at others. I also didn’t immediately fall in love with Kelsey’s character. I didn’t like her or the decisions she made at first. It took me almost until half way though the book to start to be interested in her story. It waswhen she let me in on her secret. Then, I could at least start to understand her. I was seriously considering DNFing the book prior to her revelation. Even after I considered it. I think I just needed more of Kelsey and Jackson sooner. If I would have been reading instead of listening, I honestly would have skimmed to get to the heart of the story faster.

Overall Thoughts:

I had put off reading the Losing It series because I mistakenly thought it wasn’t for me. After reading Cora Carmack’s other NA series, I decided to take my chances. I’m happy I did. The first two books in this series were well worth reading. The last book wasn’t for me, but I’m sure others would enjoy it.

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Roomies
Author: Christina Lauren
Narrator: K.C. Sheridan
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From subway to Broadway to happily ever after. Modern love in all its thrill, hilarity, and uncertainty has never been so enjoyable as in New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren’s (Beautiful Bastard, Dating You / Hating You) new romance.

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions.

Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago.

Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?


This book was utterly addictive. I couldn’t stop listening to it. This is only the second book I’ve read by Christina Lauren, but I can already tell she is going to be one of my new-to-me favorite writers this year. The stories she spins and the way she writes are amazing. I loved pretty much everything about Roomies.

Let me start with Holland. I haven’t been through any of the things she went through in this book, but I identified with her. Holland came to a realization that she was a secondary character in her own life. That hit home with me. Being a stay at home mom for years, I have felt like that so many times. My life revolves around everyone else. It’s their show, and I’m just part of it. It’s a weird feeling to have, and Christina Lauren put it into words with Holland. I was so impressed by that! I mean, I loved pretty much everything about Holland, but that stood out to me so much.

Holland’s fake relationship with Calvin was simply magical. There was humor in the way she practically stalked him and then ended up his wife. (Stalking isn’t cool, but it wasn’t her intent to stalk him so this didn’t bug me.) I loved the way they quickly got to know each other, and how the spark between them grew. They may have done things out-of-order, but it was the perfect order for them.

I feel like I should say more about Calvin, but all I can think of is that I loved the dude. Really, he was perfect. He’s bound to be everyone’s book boyfriend. I only wish I had gotten his point of view. That would have made this story even better than it already was.

My one teeny tiny complaint is that I felt like the last big problem in this story went on a lot longer than it needed to. Holland was strengthening herself in so many ways, but in this one way she fell flat. She was so passive about something I thought she would be more aggressive about.

Since I listened to Roomies rather than read it, I need to tell you about the narrator. K.C. Sheridan was amazing! I loved the sound of her voice and how she voiced the characters. I especially loved her portrayal of Calvin and his Irish accent. It was so good!

As you can tell, I enjoyed Roomies a great deal. I highly recommend reading or listening to it if you enjoy contemporary romances, especially those with fake relationships.