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!

Flash Review – Trashed

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.

Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy

My only complaint of the cover is I imagined more of a height difference. The heroine is only 5’1″.

This book is a very sweet, emotional m/f contemporary romance, with a second chance at love. Sadie and Bo were childhood sweethearts, but Bo broke up with her on prom night and broke her heart. They don’t see each other for 10 years. They end up having to work together on a movie that is Sadie’s big break as an actress and Bo’s biggest job as a stunt coordinator. The old sparks reignite and they don’t fight their feelings.

I appreciated that they didn’t run from what they felt for each other. They both accepted really early that they were each other’s person. But the road is not all smooth sailing as they still have ghosts from the past to face. She never knew why he broke up with her. And she also kept a big secret from him.

I was able to guess what the secret was pretty quickly, but I didn’t mind. I liked the way they talked to each other. I liked the way they cared about each other. I liked the memories of their time together as first loves. But it drove me crazy how long it took them to talk about their past. I wanted to scream at them to just talk already! But really, that’s a minor complaint.

All the friends from the previous books in the series were there, and they were fantastic. I would have liked more of them, actually. We got to see so much of them in the first book, which was a smart way to kick off the series. In fact, this book might be my favorite in the series. I loved the first one because of the big, sexy ginger hero, but this one gave me more feels. It was a bit of a slow start, but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop.

I give this book 4.5 stars. It was a fun, sweet read, and I will probably enjoy it on rereads. In fact, I’ll probably track down a print copy to go with my copy of Getting Hot with the Scot. Also, I really love the covers they are putting on this series.

Review – Somebody to Love

I received an e-ARC of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I really hate writing negative reviews. I like squeeing over books and it bums me out when I don’t like something. But I really did not like this book. All of the characters were stupid and mean. That sounds really harsh, but it’s true! The main characters meet when the heroine mistakes the plumber (hero) for her new psychologist, and he realizes her mistake and pretends to be the doctor. She feels like he’s probably full of shit but agrees to another session (I guess because she’s self-hating and curious??) and then continues seeing him for coffee and other activities while still pretending she thinks she’s getting therapy. At first, I thought she mistook him for a prostitute she had hired and that would have been less ridiculous, or at least less offensive. But then she starts spilling her guts to him and I realize she thinks it’s therapy. Maybe it’s my extensive history with mental health care services, but I couldn’t believe someone would pretend to be a therapist. And it’s not a funny meet-cute to me.

The heroine has this cousin/best friend who’s a total monster and makes the heroine feel like shit all the time. Both MCs screw around with other people over the course of the book. The hero’s girlfriend is another mega-bitch crazy woman. It just felt really woman hating. Although the heroine was plus size and mostly happy about it, there was fat-shamey language throughout the book from other characters. Including the hero. The mega-bitches get their comeuppance in the end, but the heroine sinks to their level too much for my liking by publicly humiliating them. 

I didn’t get the feeling that this author truly likes romance novels. It felt more like she was trying to subvert tropes and mocking them instead. There were some funny lines though. And the cover is adorable.

Reading this Week – June 9

  • Hardcore by Dakota Gray – m/f, workplace, sort of second chance. This was first person narration from the hero’s point of view, which I feel like is hard to do well. First person of anyone is hard to pull off, but I’m always impressed when the hero’s POV is done well and it was here. He was a dirty dude though. Wow.
  • Want Me by Neve Wilder – m/m, college. Definitely the most explicit m/m I’ve ever read, but it also had these moments of true sweetness from the two alpha bros who fell in love. Typically, I don’t love an alpha bro, much less two, but seeing these guys come together was lovely. So.Much.Sex. though. So if you’re looking for lots of plot and dialog, probably want to skip this one. I loved it though. I’ve already read it two more times.
  • Dedicated by Neve Wilder – m/m, workplace, friends to lovers – Another sweet one from this author. This one had more conflict and less sexytimes, but it was still really good.
  • Knight’s Fire by SJ Himes – m/m, paranormal, DRAGONS! I fucking love dragons. I don’t know why, but I do. This mythology was a little different. Rather than a human/dragon shifter, the dragon was a true shape shifter and could assume any shape. He preferred to assume the human shape so he could get it on with the knight. I’m looking forward to the next in the series, about their wedding and resolving the Big Bad.
  • Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R. Cooper – m/m, friends to lovers, virgin hero – This was the sweetest, most precious (in the best sense of the word) love story. Jerry is my favorite. And I loved Lincoln’s dad bod.

Reread this week:

  • Band Sinister by KJ Charles – My #1 go-to comfort read. And fitting my theme of only reading LGBT books the rest of this month for Pride.

Review: Teach Me

I received an e-ARC of Teach Me by Olivia Dade from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Teach Me is a fantastic m/f that falls under “seasoned romance” because the hero and heroine are in their 40’s.

Rose is a teacher with a twenty years of experience at her school, and Martin is a new teacher who is brought in and assigned to her favorite class to teach. Martin is immediately drawn to Rose, but he grows on her slowly. She makes the first move and he turns her down due to insecurities, not lack of interest. Then he realizes what a dumb move that was and goes about trying to thaw her out. They both work on their insecurities. They let each other in. They find happily ever after.

What I loved about this book was the ease and gentleness of it. There was no dramatic gestures or big romantic overtures or aggressive pursuit, just a grown ass man respecting and listening to a grown ass woman. Blurbs bill it as an ice queen and a cinnamon roll and that’s accurate. But he’s not a sickly sweet cinnamon roll covered in too much icing. He’s iced just right. I loved the writing from his perspective when he realized he loved her. I would quote it but I don’t want to spoil it.

I give this book 4.5 stars and I highly recommend it. They both accepted each other and appreciated each other for being exactly themselves. I think that’s my biggest romance catnip — respect and acceptance and seeing someone for who they really are.

Reading this Week – May 27

  • The Learning Hours by Sara Ney (m/f, college) – I don’t usually like stories about douchey college students, but in this one, the girl was the douchebag and the guy was a sweetheart. It was a nice change. And I always enjoy Sara Ney’s writing.
  • American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera (m/m, billionaire) – Second in the series and I love it! Camilo and Tom are the cutest and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. I will probably have to buy this book in paperback as well for my keeper shelf. It’s sooooo good. Squee!
  • Create a Life to Love by Erin Zak (f/f, cw: domestic violence) – I have a full review of this one coming up soon.
  • The Major’s Welcome Home by Tessa Bailey (m/f, virgin hero) – I love a contemporary virgin, especially the hero. And Tessa Bailey writes steam and dirty talk so well. This one was fun. And it’s on Kindle Unlimited!
  • A Slice of Honeybear Pie by Jacqueline Sweet and Eva Wilder (m/f, paranormal bear shifters, plus size heroine) – I heard about this sweet series through #RomBkLove and it is fun! And it’s on Kindle Unlimited.
  • A Taste of Honeybear Wine by Jacqueline Sweet and Eva Wilder (m/f, paranormal bear shifters, plus size heroine) – Second in the series. Another cute one.
  • Thirsty by Mia Hopkins (m/f, contemporary) – This is the first in a series and I have an ARC of the second one so I wanted to read this first. I don’t usually go for gang stories, or mob or motorcycle club or any other organized group devoted to nefarious purposes, but I’m so glad I read this. It’s a sweet, very sexy story about a man trying to change his life and he falls in love with a good woman who encourages him to be his best self. But she doesn’t take any shit either. Great book.
  • Wrapped: A FIT adjacent Christmas Novella by Rebekah Weatherspoon (m/f, plus size heroine, ginger hero) – This story was catnip on catnip. So much fun. I loved it.
  • The First Sinners Club by Kate Pearce (m/f, historical, erotic) – This novella was enjoyable.