I received an e-ARC of Candy Hearts by Erin McLellan in exchange for an honest review.
I read the first book in this series, Stocking Stuffers, and loved it so I was super excited for the chance to review this book. I have been in a bit of a reading slump and haven’t been able to handle more than quick novellas. This hot, sexy novella was just what I needed.
This is the story of Benji, the young mechanic with a love for lingerie, and William, the older workaholic who is finally ready for a real relationship. They meet at a Valentine’s getaway weekend Benji’s sister invited him to and sparks fly. They decide to be secret, fake valentines for the weekend so they can have some fun sexytimes and move on. The more William learns about Benji, the more he wishes they were real valentines. Benji lets William in and shows him a side of himself that he always felt like he had to hide from lovers, but he’s afraid of getting hurt again. There’s a misunderstanding. There’s a disastrous date. There’s talking and working it out and discovering real feelings.
Erin McLellan is becoming an auto-buy author for me because her books are hot, hot, hot. This series heavily features the use of sex toys, and it’s so fun and playful. I laughed out loud several times while reading this.
I give this book Five Super Steamy Stars and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I think it’s coming this summer.
This was a good year for reading. I read more than 250 books (includes novellas) this year. And I read some amazing stuff. Here’s my top 15 in alphabetical order with blurbs and customized superlatives.
A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde – A trans man and nonbinary billionaire fall in love. Superlative: Most Self Acceptance
American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera – Workaholic Food Truck Owner and emotionally guarded librarian overcome their issues to be together. Superlative: Main Characters I Want to Be Best Friends With
Band Sinister by KJ Charles – Gentle country guy sweetly seduced by citified atheist with excellent friend group, meanwhile his sister recuperates and falls in love with her doctor. Superlative: Best Primary and Secondary Romances
Bond by Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly – Second in a bananapants crazy series about dragon shifters and mpreg egg laying. Superlative: Best Food-Based Nicknames
Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean – All hail the Year of Hattie! And give me more Whit! Superlative: Most Admirable Heroine
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – Prickly heroine living with chronic pain attacks her “get a life” list with the help of a hot ginger painter. Superlative: Best Heartbreaking Scene
Heat Stroke by Tessa Bailey – Opposites attract when two lifeguards get it on and fall in love. Superlative: Best Gentle Giant Juice Maker
Love Around the Corner by Sally Malcolm – Enemies IRL but a budding romance online figure out how to find love that lasts offline. Superlative: Best Internet Romance that Breaks Your Heart
Man vs. Durian by Jackie Lau – In a year of amazing heroes, Peter might be my favorite. Fake boyfriend becomes super real. Superlative: Most Thoughtful and Eager to Please Hero
Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon – Surgeon needs nanny. Sexy ginger biker comes to the rescue. Mutual attraction becomes more, and he’s also very good at the sex. Superlative: Hottest Ginger Biker Nanny
Small Change by Roan Parrish – Tattoo artist and sandwich chef fall for each other. Also includes pickletinis. Superlative: Best Flirting with Sandwiches
Teach Me by Olivia Dade – Over 40, plus size teacher is gently wooed by the single dad, also over-40 teacher who gets assigned her favorite class to teach. Superlative: Best Pursuit of Heroine
Want Me by Neve Wilder – College housemates get it on until they fall in love. Superlative: Best Use of Sex for Plot Advancement
Work For It by Talia Hibbert – Probably my favorite book of the year. I’ve already read it three times and then some. Olu and Griff are the sweetest. Superlative: Best Book with Grumpy, Sarcastic bb’s Falling in Love
Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon – Marriage of convenience becomes real between bisexual teacher heroine and plus size chef hero. Superlative: Made Me Blush the Most
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.
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!
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.
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.
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