I received an eARC of Cheer Up: Love and Pom Poms by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise, and Oscar Jupiter from Netgalley and Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.
This is a light and sweet graphic novel about two cheerleaders discovering first love and learning more about themselves. Bebe is trans and the team treats her like a token or mascot. Annie is a grumpy iconoclast who needs cheerleading to pad her college applications. They used to be best friends and it’s never clear why they fell out of touch but they reconnect through cheerleading. They crush on each other and they smooch. The ending wraps up a little too quickly and nicely. The cheer team magically realizes they were treating Bebe badly and her parents suddenly accept her and give her more freedom.
I give this four fizzy feel-good stars. I really enjoyed this graphic novel and the art was great.
I received an ARC of A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas by Jackie Lau from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Jackie Lau is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. Her stories are low-angst, steamy, and feature strong heroines. She deals with serious issues sometimes, but there’s never unnecessary drama between the couple. They talk about their feelings like grown ups. This was true of A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas. It’s the second in a holiday themed series about the Wong family. Greg and Tasha were each other’s first love, first everything, high school sweethearts who broke up because of distance and immaturity. They are pushed together on a road trip and sparks fly. They get snowed in! There’s only one bed! They both feel their feelings come back and there’s a lovely grand gesture at the end before the HEA.
A few weeks ago on Twitter, I said “I just want to read about nice people falling in love and having hot sexy times.” That’s exactly what I got with this book. Greg and Tasha are nice people. They respect each other. They appreciate each other and celebrate the things that make them different. This book was charming and sweet. I loved it.
The only thing that hit me wrong was the way they so quickly went from “haven’t seen you in 15 years” to “I love you.” But maybe that’s realistic in this situation? I don’t know.
I give this book four stars. I wish it had been longer. I wanted to know more about Tasha, especially. But it was a great book. You should get it.
I received an e-ARC of Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Xeni was an excellent side character in one of my favorite reads this year, Rafe, and I was super excited to get her story. The fact that the hero is Mason from Sanctuary was icing on the cake. I love the description of Mason. He’s a big dude, burly, soft tummy, dark hair with hints of red in his beard. Which makes him a ginger in my mind and therefore he is automatically 10 times hotter. So I was fully on board with reading more about him.
Xeni learns that her aunt has left her a fortune, and the aunt was good friends with Mason. She left him some money too, but they can only get their money if they get married. So they do. There’s immediate attraction between them, and you can just feel them click as friends right away. They book follows them as they quickly fall into bed and almost as quickly start to develop real feelings for each other. But life happens and Xeni returns to California while Mason goes to his birthplace of Scotland. But they manage to live happily ever after.
And let me tell you, Rebekah Weatherspoon can write a sex scene like nobody else. I was blushing like crazy while I read this book. Xeni and Mason are fire.
I give this book 4.5 stars. It was really great. I love this Loose Ends series.
I received an e-ARC of Trashed by Mia Hopkins from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This was the second book in The Eastside Brewery series. I have enjoyed both books. This was about the middle brother, Eddie, and how he makes a life for himself after prison, and of course, the woman he falls in love with along the way. Eddie was a great character. I don’t always like first-person Hero point of view books, but I liked his voice.
Carmen was an awesome heroine — a badass chef who sees the good in Eddie. I wanted more of her and more conversations between the two of them. There was a side story about Eddie finding out what happened to his father, who supposedly died while Eddie was in prison. It was necessary to Eddie’s story, but I really wanted more of him and Carmen.
It’s cool to read about characters who aren’t your typical romance novel main characters. Of course, they’re still above average attractiveness, but they’re not rich or privileged. Eddie struggles. Carmen struggles. They help each other.
I give this book four stars. It was so well-written. The blurb at the end from the third book in the series has me on pins and needles waiting for it. It sounds amazing. I highly recommend this entire series. It’s sexy as hell and shows a side of life not often found in romance.
CW: This book has some explicit m/f domestic violence.
I received an ARC of Create a Life to Love by Erin Zak from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is a sweet f/f romance with an adorable side story of a teenager falling in love as well. The book opens with 16-year-old Beth arriving at the doorstep of her birth mother, Jackie, after tracking her down with a private investigator. Jackie is shocked but agrees to drive Beth home where she meets Susan, Beth’s adoptive mother. Susan is married to Beth’s adoptive father and he is abusive. There is abuse on the page and it was really disturbing. I can imagine it would be very triggering for anyone with this in their history and it was not indicated in the blurb for the book so be warned. Susan takes Beth and leaves her husband. They want to go somewhere he won’t think to look for them and Beth suggests Jackie’s house. While there, Susan becomes more open to her attraction to Jackie and they fall in love. Beth meets some local teens and hits it off with a girl and realizes she’s bisexual. I was not surprised that there was a confrontation with the ex-husband, but it went much smoother than I expected.
Again, this book was really sweet. Jackie and Susan were both likable and I was rooting for them. I give this book 3.5 stars.
This was a light, fun, m/f read. Very steamy, even though the author used some of my least favorite euphemisms for sexy things. The resolution of the big misunderstanding was anticlimactic, and I wish there had been more character development. I liked the hero, but I really wanted to know more about him. I also liked that the focus was on the couple, although there was a side story. It just wasn’t very fleshed out, which might annoy some people. I give it 3.5 stars but rounded down to a 3 for excessive use of the word “cream”.
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was the second book in this series and I was really looking forward to it. They set up the flirtation in the first book, Getting Hot with the Scot, and I liked Bonnie and Theo. The elements were there. Her engagement ends. They run into each other in Chicago and then she ends up in England for the summer.
They have undeniable chemistry. I guess I just wanted more from them emotionally. She’s an Anglophile and he’s British and thinks she’s hot. That seems to be the whole basis for their relationship. I don’t know if I missed something or if something was missing. This just didn’t hit all the right notes for me. But the author writes good banter and fun scenes.
I give this book 3 stars. I think it works better if you’ve read the first in the series because you can see how they met. But it could stand on its own as well. I will definitely continue with the series.
I received an e-ARC of Just Past Two by Elia Winters from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I read the first book in this series and enjoyed the story of three people falling in love with each other. This book is more of a married couple becoming an open relationship couple. It gave me mixed feelings, and at the end of the day, I probably will avoid books about this type of relationship because I prefer commitment and exclusivity in my happily ever afters.
However, I think the author did a great job of exploring the emotions and feelings around going into an open marriage. And the married couple very obviously love each other. There’s a lot of sexytimes in this book and they were well written. If you are into poly-romance, you will probably really like this book. It’s just not my thing.
I give it three stars because I can tell it’s a good story, but it just wasn’t the book for me.
So, first of all, I am a Megan Frampton fangirl. I think her stories are so funny and sweet. I fell in love with Eleanor in Lady Be Bad and I have enjoyed every Duke’s Daughters book. This one was no exception.
I was very curious about Della’s story as we heard about her for three books before meeting her. I loved how strong she was. She’s clever and independent and she loves her kid. The hero in this book is really swoony too. He loves Della’s independence and experience. He sees her and appreciates her for who she is and it’s so lovely.
My only critique is that we are told so many times how huge and arrogant the hero is. I mean it is stated plainly over and over. Frampton does an excellent job of showing how arrogant he is, and after one or two mentions, I understood, this dude is a big motherfucker. So it wasn’t really necessary to tell me every time he’s in the scene that he’s large and arrogant. It got distracting after a while. That’s the only reason I didn’t give this book five stars.
I received an ARC of A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the final installment of Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the books in this series, and I was excited to see how it ended. I had a hard time getting into this book. It took me over a month to finish it as I would read a chapter or two and then move on to something else. But once I got about 60% in, it really picked up and I loved the ending. The book had humor and heart and lots of growth in both of the main characters. Cole’s writing is fantastic. I guess it was just a slower burn than I prefer.
I give this book 3.5 stars. I probably will reread this in a few months to see if it was just my mood that made it difficult to stay interested because it really was a good story and beautifully told.