Review: American Sweethearts

The covers on this series are fire!

I received an ARC of American Sweethearts by Adriana Herrera from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Adriana Herrera’s American Dreamers series was in my top reads of last year. I loved the stories of these immigrants finding their Happily Ever Afters. I was thrilled to get an ARC of this book. Unfortunately the arrival of the ARC coincided with the beginning of the pandemic and my brain shut down so it took me a while to be able to finish this story. But it was through no fault of the book itself.

This is a second-chance love story between Juan Pablo and Priscilla, who were on and off from their teen years. They story picks up where they are completely broken up and have been distant from each other for a long time. They meet up again at a friend’s wedding (the hero of the second book in the series, Milo), and sparks fly. More than sparks though. Priscilla can tell Juan Pablo has changed. Come to find out he’s had a lot of therapy and has been consciously working on making himself a better man — for himself and for Priscilla. He is not ready to give up on them, but he never pushes her. He’s done that in the past and everything blew up. This time, he lets her come to him and is just a supportive friend and lover. There’s a fantastic scene where he takes care of her while she’s having cramps.

Priscilla is a great character. She’s a cop who has a side hustle teaching sex classes to minorities, particularly immigrants, and she has a blog and podcast. She teaches sex-ed through a social justice lens. She’s increasingly unhappy in her day job. Juan Pablo thinks she could make it a full-time career out of it, but he doesn’t push her, much. The recovering fundamentalist in me had trouble understanding sex-ed as social justice, but I think I get it. I want to get it.

Through the book, there’s no manufactured drama or angst. It’s just two grown-ass people learning to communicate and make each other a priority while also taking care of themselves. That’s what I love about Herrera’s books. They are grown-ass people, having grown-ass relationships and sexy times together.

I give this book 4 Stars, and I highly recommend that you read it. It’s one that I can tell will grow on me with future re-reads so I might bump it up to 4.5. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, start with American Dreamer. It’s my favorite of the bunch.

Flash Review – A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas

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. 

Review: Building Up to Love

I received an e-ARC of Building Up to Love by J.V. Speyer from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a second chance story between a designer/contractor, Jared, and defense lawyer, Logan, who’s being tormented by the mob. They were together in college but Logan, who is gay, broke up with Jared for being bi. There was lots of biphobic language in this book so there’s a content warning. Mostly, it was Jared remembering things Logan had said to him as well as biphobic stuff he internalized over the years. I was bothered by it, but it was Jared’s main conflict and reason for staying away from Logan after they ran into each other after 10 years apart. Logan believed all the hateful stuff his parents said about Jared back in college but during their time apart, he grew up, realized all that stuff was bullshit, and was very sorry he treated Jared that way. So when they meet up again, he immediately wants to make amends. Jared’s not into it because he can’t trust Logan, but he still wants him. They have sex a couple of times, but Jared says he doesn’t want to see Logan anymore. Then Logan confesses his love in an email.

This is where the story lost me. I just didn’t feel like the story earned the “I love you” yet. It felt like Logan was cheating, trying to skip the hard part of reconciling and just using I love you as an emotional bomb to get Jared back. This whole time, Logan is being stalked in more and more lethal ways by one of his client’s mob bosses and Jared saves his life a few times. Eventually, the mob boss gets put away and Jared decides to take a chance on Logan. But again, it just didn’t feel earned. Jared goes from “I don’t trust you and I don’t want to see you” to “I love you. Let’s have sexy times forever” without much effort. There was no grovel, no major conversation, and their relationship seemed pretty shallow. There’s another ex-boyfriend of Jared’s as a secondary character who was much more intriguing. I wanted them to work it out more than I cared about Jared/Logan.

I give this book three stars. It wasn’t bad, but I had quite a few issues with it. Also, the cover bugs me because Logan is described as having light brown skin and curly hair, not some basic white bro with straight douchebag hair.

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: 28 Dates

28 Dates by Stacey Lynn was cute and sweet. Caitlin and Jonas are friends with benefits but Jonas wants more. Caitlin is afraid of commitment and breaks it off. They remain friends, sort of. Caitlin’s boss asks her to test his dating app and Jonas joins without her knowing. They get matched and Jonas tries to win her heart via text, while watching her go on 28 dates with random dudes. Eventually Caitlin finds out the dude she likes from the app is Jonas. She’s not pissed that he sort of lied. She’s very wooed. Then HEA, baby. (Actually babies. Nice epilogue. I know a lot of people think baby epilogues are unnecessary. And they are. But I still like them.)

I felt like the book kind of glossed over Caitlin’s issues. She has parental problems and she just kind of magically gets over it after one conversation with her friend. And Jonas dates another girl after Caitlin rejects him at the beginning. He breaks up with the other woman before he starts going after the Heroine again, but I just don’t like any other woman drama.

I give this book 4 Stars. I enjoyed the writing style and the side characters. I will probably track down the other books in this series.

Oh, and I have to say, I freaking hated the cover on the ARC. I don’t know if it will end up being the final cover, but I’m guessing it will because it has the same look as another book in the series. It made me expect a very different book. I was happily surprised that the book didn’t deliver on the promise of the cover.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.