October Reading List

Now that I’m in grad school, while also still working full-time and parenting a busy four-year-old, I don’t have time to do the weekly round up of what I’ve been reading. I’m also not reading 7+ books a week. But I am still soaking up stories with happily ever afters so here’s what I read last month.

  • Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon – I reviewed this one and I still love it. I’ll probably reread it soon. Big ginger hero. Say no more.
  • Writing Her In by Holley Trent – I heard a lot about this book before I read it, and I enjoyed it.
  • A Match Made for Thanksgiving by Jackie Lau – Another nice people having hot sexy times book and a holiday novella. I loved the heroine in this one.
  • Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter – This was a great wrong number gone right story with lots of fun texting. The hero was total book boyfriend material.
  • American Love Story by Adrianna Herrera – I was anxiously anticipating this book and it did not disappoint! I love this series. Gonna have to track down copies for my keeper shelf.
  • Happily Ever Afterlives by Olivia Waite – This was a bananapants crazy “historical”novella duo where the love interests are demons. So fun.
  • One Bed for Christmas by Jackie Lau – Super cute holiday novella with a giant t-rex costume and one bed. Do you need any other reason to one-click?
  • Stuck with You by Jay Northcote – Another one-bed, snowed-in holiday romance. I hate snow in real life but I love a good forced proximity in romance.
  • Lovers by Fiona Cole – I thought this one was going to be about a throuple but the m/m had the HEA. Apparently the girl gets her HEA in another book in the series. It was a little too cheating-adjacent for me.
  • Billionaire Unloved: Jett by J. S. Scott – I read this but I can’t really remember much about it at this point. The heroine was a ginger. I remember that.
  • Best Friend Baby Daddy by B. B. Hamel – Alpha hero quickie. Secret baby. Meh.
  • Doctor Baby Daddy by B. B. Hamel – Another alpha hero quickie. Better than the best friend one. Still nothing special.
  • The Babysitter by Jack Harbon – Quick, steamy read.
  • Rocket Science by K.M. Neuhold – Cute book with a shy, nerdy dude and best friend’s brother.
  • I Look at You and Smile by Janine Caroline – Good book, some suspense, awesome hero.
  • By the Hour by Roni Loren – Great, sexy enemies to lovers.
  • Where We Left Off by Roan Parrish – I love Roan Parrish, but this one just didn’t do it for me. Leo is so awesome and Will is such a douche. Will did not deserve him and the HFN wasn’t satisfying.
  • For Her Own Good by Tamsen Parker – Heroine has severe depression and hero was her former child psychiatrist, 15 years later. Big age gap. A little too much kink for me.
  • Safe Harbor by H. J. Welch – Cute gay/bi-for-you story

Wow, I read more than I thought I did. But a lot of these were novellas.

Review – Work for It

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author. This is an honest review.

OMG, can a book review just be one big sigh of happiness? This book was so good. I’m going to struggle to explain how good this book was. It’s the story of Olu and Griff. Olu is struggling with depression after a forced outing and Griff is the outcast of his small town. Olu goes to the small town for the elderflower harvest and meets Griff. They meet and become fast enemies. But they keep crossing paths because Griff runs the elderflower farm. There is hate-staring and pining and wishing. Olu apologizes for being a jerk when they met, and they start to become friends. Then they hold hands. Sparks!!!! It’s a slow burn, especially for this author, and it fits the story perfectly. I was dying for these two to get together already. To just freaking kiss! And then they did! And I died.

This story is told in alternating first person POV, and it suited the story perfectly. They both had unique voices. And there were moments that were so funny. They both have sarcastic inner monologues that made me laugh. I wanted to highlight something on every page. Both men fought their feelings so hard. But they fell hard too. And the HEA was so sweet.

Now for some of my favorite things about this book. One, I loved the description of Griff. Olu thinks he’s ugly at first but then sees his beauty. He’s described as huge, a bear of a man, and he has a soft belly. I am all for softer heroes in romance. Give me a dadbod any day of the week. Cuddles for days is what I’m saying.

Second, the mental health rep was spot-on. Olu has depression and Talia (I can call her by her first name because we’re totes bff’s in my imagination) writes him in the perfect tone. She captures how depression isn’t just stealing your good moods and your capacity for feeling, it steals a part of you. It changes your you-ness. And fills you with fear that no one will accept you as you are, that you don’t deserve acceptance, that you’re just a burden on everyone. Olu had those fears. Griff had experience with being there for someone in this situation, as his mom also had depression. He accepts Olu as he is and just wants to be there for him, especially when he’s feeling less than himself.

Griff is steady and true and I loved him. I didn’t really understand why he was such an outcast. I guess being a huge, scary looking dude with a scandalous mom is enough to make you the weird one in a small town. Everyone except his best friend treats him like he’s stupid, but he’s not. He’s amazing. Do not come for Griff. I will fight you.

I give this book all the stars, 5 giant, twinkling heart eye emoji stars. I already want to read it again. I want it in print and audio. I want it painted on the walls of my house.

Basically, what I’m saying is, go buy this book right now.

Review: Man vs. Durian

How adorable is this cover?
I love it.

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for an honest review.

This book is one of my favorites of the year. It’s the third in a series that I haven’t read, and I loved the side characters. I will definitely be reading the first two books.

Valerie had a bad year. Her boyfriend cheated on her and she had to quit her job due to sexual harassment. She’s working at her best friend’s Ice Cream shop where she meets Peter. Peter is a landscaper who hates durian. Valerie spills durian ice cream all over Peter, and it was an excellent meet cute. Peter asks Valerie out and she turns him down but asks him to be her fake boyfriend. Then they both catch real feelings.

I had so many favorite things about this book: 1. The excellent communication. 2. Peter’s appreciation of Valerie — supporting her without pushing. 3. All the food! And finally, Valerie can only orgasm with certain stimulation, and she is NOT “fixed” by Peter’s magical man parts! He has to learn how to please her and what works for her, and he is a VERY eager student.

I give this book five heart-eye emoji stars! My highest rating. haha. I loved this book and I already can’t wait to read it again. Jackie Lau has such a great voice and awesome characters. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Reading this Week – August 18

I’m a couple of weeks behind so this will be a long list.

  • Trashed by Mia Hopkins – m/f, contemporary. See my full review of this one here.
  • The Weight of It All by N.R. Walker – m/m, friends to lovers. This was a great story that included a hero with a less-than-perfect body. There is a lot of discussion of exercise and weight loss, but it was from a healthy perspective. No fat shaming. It was a really sweet story. I loved the characters.
  • Team A.L.P.H.A. Books 1-4 by Susi Hawke – m/m, mpreg, wolf shifters, fated mates – These are light, goofy stories that I tore through in no time. I don’t know why I enjoy male pregnancy books so much, but I do.
  • Facing West by Lucy Lennox – m/m, enemies to lovers. This was the first in the Forever Wilde series about a family made up of mostly gay guys, and I liked it. These books were good. Enjoyable, quick reads. Nothing earth-shattering.
  • The DILF by London Hale – m/f, age gap, best friend’s father. Meh. This was a book. Mostly just a lot of doin’ it.
  • Felix and the Prince by Lucy Lennox – m/m, royalty. Another Forever Wilde novel. Enjoyable. I’m glad it was on KU.
  • Wilde Fire by Lucy Lennox – m/m, second chance. This Forever Wilde novel was super sweet and had a little mystery.
  • Hudson’s Luck by Lucy Lennox – m/m. Another Forever Wilde. Guess what? That one brother you thought was straight, nope. Totes bi. Falls for a cute femme ginger.
  • Flirt by Lucy Lennox – m/m, age gap. Forever Wilde novella featuring the young bakery guy and the salt-and-pepper fire chief.
  • His Saint by Lucy Lennox – m/m. Most unusual pairing of the Forever Wilde series. Ex Navy SEAL with small antiquities dealer. There was a mystery in this one too.
  • Wilde Love by Lucy Lennox – m/m, friends to lovers. The story of the grandfathers of the rest of the Wilde boys. Includes a section during the Vietnam War and the death of a wife. It’s a really touching love story too.
  • King Me by Lucy Lennox – m/m, enemies to lovers. Final Forever Wilde novel to date. Good stuff, but Dirk Falcon is a terrible name.
  • Scales and a Tail by Stormy Glen – m/m, mpreg, dragon, bunny, paranormal. This book was funny and fun. A quick read. Another excellent addition to my dragon collection. And there’s good grovel here too.
  • Spells and Bananas by Joyee Flynn – m/m, witch, spider monkey, mpreg. Funny book in this midnight matings series.
  • Hot Ride by Lucy Lennox – m/m, age gap, virgin hero. Cute story about two dancers who fall for each other.
  • Fire and Ash by Gabrielle Evans – m/m, phoenix, fae. Another goofy midnight matings book.
  • Grounding Griffin by Lucy Lennox – m/m – Another family series by this author. Good stuff.
  • Jumping Jude by Lucy Lennox – m/m, workplace. Sweet story of country music star and his bodyguard. I liked the bodyguard character a lot.
  • IRL: In Real Life by Lucy Lennox and Molly Maddox – m/m, enemies to lovers, secret. Funny, cute story from dick pic to true love. I really enjoyed this one.

Reading this Week – August 4

  • Her Christmas Cookie by Katrina Jackson – Somehow I missed this one when I was reading the Welcome to Sea Port series. It’s a continuation of the throuple in From Scratch where they meet each other’s families. m-m-f, happily ever after.
  • Dirty by Kylie Scott – m/f, contemporary This was funny and cute. A quick read.
  • The Client by Meghan O’Brien – f/f, former bully. This was a quick, steamy story. I have trouble with the former bully trope, but it was well-done here. I wish this had been longer and gone more into their relationship and a true HEA instead of the quick HFN.
  • By Fairy Means or Foul by Meghan Maslow – m/m, magic, dragons, fairies. This was an adorable and funny book. The first in a series and I am looking forward to reading more.
  • Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean – m/f, historical – This was an amazing story with an AMAZING heroine! It is indeed the Year of Hattie and I am here for it! Whitt was an excellent hero as well. I don’t always love the grunt-y heroes, but this totally worked for me. I already bought the paperback for my keeper shelf.
  • Man vs. Durian by Jackie Lau – m/f, fake relationship. OMG, I loved this book! My review will post on the 27th, release day. Another that I’ll have to track down in print for the keeper shelf. Peter is total book boyfriend material.
  • Swallow by Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly – m/m, dragons. This is a spinoff of the bananapants crazy series that I loved so much by these authors. It’s about the dad dragon and his HEA. Major age gap. Something like 1,000 year-old dragon with a 20 year old. haha. This wasn’t as bananas as the original series but I still enjoyed it and loved seeing some of my favorite characters from the original series pop in.
  • Loving the Secret Billionaire by Adriana Anders – m/f, disability rep, age gap, virgin hero. This was a good story. Older heroine (I don’t remember if it ever says how old, but I’m guessing late 30’s) falls for a 23 year old billionaire hacker.
  • Endless Stretch of Blue by Riley Hart – m/m, grief, friends to lovers. This was a sweet story of two straight guys who both lost siblings in a bar fire and they meet and fall in love.
  • The Beast in Him by Shelly Laurenston – m/f, wolves, wild dogs, shifters, paranormal, friends to lovers. Like everything from this author, this was a funny read with enough steam and some original characters. I really hope the hero’s sister gets a story in this series. She’s mean and crazy, but kind of my favorite.

Reread this week:

  • A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde
  • S.O.S. by Arabella Faith
  • Getaway Girl, Runaway Girl and Halfway Girl by Tessa Bailey

Reading this Week – July 23

The reading slump is over!

  • Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey – very sexy m/m between a CEO and his security guy. I like stories with two alpha dudes falling in love.
  • Toxic Desire by Robin Lovett – crazy-pants m/f alien romance. It’s a planet full of a toxin that will kill you if you don’t have sex regularly. First in a trilogy. Naturally, I’m reading them all as fast as I can.
  • Captivated by Tessa Bailey and Eve Dangerfield – m/f, neighbors. This was good. Funny and dirty.
  • Heat Wave by Ceri Grenelle – m/f, neighbors, friends to lovers. This quick read was cute.
  • Building Up to Love by J.V. Speyer – cute enough m/m. See full review here.
  • Written on His Skin by Simone Stark – m/f, epistolary, plus size heroine. This quick and dirty read was good.
  • Drilled by Brill Harper – m/f, age gap, plus size heroine, brothers bff – The author describes it as trope soup and that’s accurate. This came up in KU recommendations and it was ok.
  • Captive Desire by Robin Lovett – m/f, enemies to lovers, aliens – Second in the crazy-pants sex planet series. More wtf sexytimes. Very entertaining.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time by Kylie Scott – m/f, age gap, surprise baby. This was cute and funny, but I was let down by the ending. Still, I enjoyed the author’s style enough to know I’ll read more of her stuff.

Reading this Week – July 14

Another two weeks together. The reading slump is somewhat better. I read more but I wasn’t super enthusiastic about it.

  • Obey by Piper Scott – m/m, omegaverse, mpreg, billionaire, bdsm. No shifters in this one, just regular old human omega men who can get pregnant. haha.
  • Theirs for the Night by Katee Robert – m/m/f, good enough menage novella
  • S.O.S. by Arabella Faith – m/m, sweet, writer hero. I enjoyed this one a lot.
  • Runaway Girl by Tessa Bailey – m/f, funny. You can always count on some good old Tessa Bailey dirty talk to bust a reading slump.
  • Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey – m/f, funny, brothers best friend. I loved this one. Tessa Bailey can do no wrong to me.
  • Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey – m/m, workplace. This story was intense and somewhat uncomfortable because both dudes were so alpha. But I liked seeing how they worked it out.
  • Tied to the Tycoon by Chloe Cox – m/f, wtf sexytimes. I read this one from a Romancelandia friend’s WTF sex scene spreadsheet. They do butt stuff while the heroine is suspended by ropes off a skyscraper in Manhattan. Totally nuts.
  • Smoke Signals by Meredith Katz – m/m, dragons! This was a new type of dragon shifter and I loved it. His hoard was comprised of every game in existence. So cute.
  • All Grown Up by Vi Keeland – m/f, age gap. This older woman, younger man romance was a cute, fun, quick read.