Layla by Colleen Hoover Publication: Montlake Publication Date: 12/8/2020
Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Montlake in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.
Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.
Review: Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite romance authors! I was super excited to hear that she was stepping out of her comfort zone to write a paranormal novel. Though I’m not a fan of the paranormal genre, I found this book entertaining and loved that Colleen continues to bring out the deep emotions from characters in her novels. I liked that as I was reading, I kept having theories on what was going on and what would happen next. The only parts that didn’t work for me was that the book felt a bit too love at first sight. There were also some parts where I kind of wanted to see Layla’s perspective instead. If you’re a Colleen Hoover fan, this may be on your list already. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was a decent read.
Well Played by Jen DeLuca Publication: Berkley Publication Date: 9/22/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Berkley in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.
When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.
Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.
Review: I loved Well Met so I was super excited to get my hands on the sequel, Well Played, which features Stacey. Overall, Well Played was a cute romance, but it didn’t have the magic and flair of Well Met. I loved the setting vibes that the author had just like in the first book. It was also great to see what’s going on with Emily and Simon from the first book. One aspect I didn’t love was the love troupe. I really hope cat fishing doesn’t become a popular love troupe. I felt that Stacey and her love interest lacked chemistry and I wasn’t really shipping them as a couple. If you loved the first book, then you may enjoy this one since there are appearances of Emily and Simon.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman Publication: Atria Books Publication Date: 9/8/2020
Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Atria Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis:A bank robber on the run locks himself in with an over-enthusiastic estate agent, two bitter IKEA-addicts, a pregnant woman, a suicidal multi-millionaire and a rabbit. In the end the robber gives up and lets everyone go, but when the police storm the apartment it is . . . empty.
In a series of dysfunctional testimonies after the event, the witnesses all tell their version of what really happened and it’s clear we have a classic locked-room mystery on our hands: How did the robber manage to escape? Why is everyone so angry? And: What is WRONG with people these days?
Review: I’ve read all of Backman’s novels and his latest book keeps up with the stride of his previous work! Backman has such an eloquent writing style bringing up important themes such as empathy, community, feeling ‘enough’, and mental health, in a way that resonates with you and really makes you think about them even after you’re done with the book. Honestly, it took me a while to figure how I wanted to rate Anxious People. At first, it took me a while to get into the book. There were some instances where I felt the author was rambling a bit and deriving from the story, however, everything ended up making sense at the end. I highly recommend picking up Anxious People. Be forewarned that I took my time reading Anxious People as you need to be in a certain headspace to read this one.
Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn Publication: Entangled Teen Publication Date: 8/18/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Entangled Teen in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synposis:The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.
In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of the dating practice that they didn’t get in high school.
In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must practice fake dating in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course—and organized based on their favorite rom-coms. ’Cause that won’t end in disaster.
The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, infuriating, and way too good-looking. Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. And her parents love him.
If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.
Review: Dating Makes Perfect is the first book I’ve read from Pintip Dunn. This book kind of reminds me of the writing styles of Jenny Han and David Yoon. This young adult romance novel has a fake dating trope, focuses on Thai American culture, immigrant parents’ expectations, and self-discovery. Overall, this was a cute book. I loved the way the author portrayed sisterly love, friendship breakups, family and community dynamics. There are also some references to other popular romcoms which I loved seeing. I would highly recommend reading this one if you’re fan of YA romances!
Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting Publication: Read Forever Publication Date: 8/11/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Read Forever in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success.
From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.
Review: Kiss My Cupcake is the second book I’ve read from Helena Hunting. This romcom is an enemies-turned-lovers trope that dives into cut throat industry of the restaurant businesses and behind the scenes of small businesses with a side of some sexual innuendos, pranks, family dynamics, and to top it off with a few steamy scenes. The beginning of the book started of strong with well developed characters and an intriguing storyline, however, half way through the book, it took a turn where I mostly skimming to the end to see what happens. The story is definitely a slow burn which I didn’t mind. I loved Ronan’s family and his backstory, but I wasn’t a big fan of Blair at all. Overall, I realized this book wasn’t really my cup of tea, but if you’re a fan of Helena Hunting, you may like this one.
You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria Publication: Avon Publication Date: 8/4/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from William Morrow and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Harper Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.
Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy. After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.
Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.
Review: You Had Me At Hola is the first book I’ve read from Alexis Daria. Based on the premise, I had really high expectations for this book. The beginning started off really strong, but faltered towards the last quarter of the book. First off, I loved that this book showcased heartfelt characters in their 30s and also gave a background on telenovelas and soaps. I really liked Jasmine’s character in the beginning as she came off as endearing and very relatable. One main issue I had with the book was Ashton. Ashton’s emotional unavailability and the way he treated Jasmine didn’t sit well with me. His actions are later explained, however, I didn’t like how they were excused. The writing style of the switching between the behind the scenes and the show seemed to be one of the same which didn’t seem to make a difference. In terms of the narrator for the audiobook, I liked the way that the narrator brought the story life and loved the different voices she used for each character. I felt like I was listening to a telenovela when I was listening to the audiobook. Overall, I thought it was a decent romance read. If you’re a fan of steamy romance novels, then you’ll want to check this one out.
The Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid Publication: Harper Perennial Publication Date: 7/28/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Harper Perennial in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Caught up in a whirlwind romance that starts in sunny Ibiza and leads to the cool corridors of a luxurious English country estate, Poppy barely has time to catch her breath, let alone seriously question if all this is too good to be true. Drew is enamored, devoted, and, okay, a little mysterious—but that’s part of the thrill. What’s the harm in letting his past remain private?
Maybe he’s not the only one…
Fortunately, Drew never seems to wonder why his young wife has so readily agreed to their unusual pact to live only in the here and now and not probe their personal histories. Perhaps he assumes, as others do, that she is simply swept up in the intoxication of infatuation and sudden wealth. What’s the harm in letting them believe that?
How far will they go to keep the past buried?
Isolated in Drew’s sprawling mansion, Poppy starts to have time to doubt the man she’s married, to wonder what in his past might be so terrible that it can’t be spoken of, to imagine what harm he might be capable of. She doesn’t want this dream to shatter. But Poppy may soon be forced to confront the dark truth that there are sins far more dangerous than the sin of omission…
Review: This domestic thriller has your basic set up of a ditsy, broke, young woman marries a wealthy, older, good-looking guy. Each is hiding a secret, but they make a deal not to discuss about their pasts and get married anyway…what can go wrong?? Have you ever read a book that you were totally feeling, but then when you got to the end, you felt that you got jipped? Yeah, The Truth Hurts was it for me. I loved the writing style in this book which maintained my interest. To satisfy my thriller and romance mood, this book fit the tab. I was also totally invested in this cliché storyline in the beginning and I was totally okay with the middle dragging for a bit, but the ending is what annoyed me the most. The book had a potential to be a four star read, but I ended up giving it 3 stars. Without giving away any spoilers, there were so many other ways the author could have amplified the ending, but unfortunately, the ending was too rushed and was so lackluster. Overall, it was a decent book. If you decide to read this one, keep your expectations low.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary Publication: Flatiron Books Publication Date: 8/18/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book as a giveaway win from Flatiron Books and an audiobook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.
GoodReads Synposis: When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
Review: I had such high expectations for The Switch since I loved The Flatshare. Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me. When I initially read the summary, I thought that this would have been a lighthearted book, but there’s underlying sadness throughout the book which is fine, but it kind of threw me off guard. Aside from that, I found the storyline to be a bit too slow and too predictable. In terms of the audiobook, I liked the narrator for Leena, but the narrator for Eileen was unbearable to listen too even though I did like Eileen over Leena in the book. I won’t give up on this author since I loved The Flatshare. Even though The Switch wasn’t right for me, it may be contemporary romance that may work for you.
The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell Publication: St. Martin’s Press Publication Date: 7/28/2020
Disclaimer: I received an advanced physical copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Macmillan Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. These have no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.
Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.
When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”
Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?
As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.
Review: I’m always a sucker for a good domestic thriller about wealth, affairs, and betrayals! This was my first Michele Campbell novel and certainly won’t be my last. She certainly knows how to write an intriguing thriller. The writing style in this book captured my attention from page one and it was hard to put the book down! There were a few twists I saw coming, but there were others I didn’t see coming which was enjoyable. Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love domestic thrillers!
What You Wish For by Katherine Center Publication: St. Martin’s Press Publication Date: 7/14/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.
When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.
Review: What You Wish For is a heartwarming and uplifting novel that reminds us to choose joy through the most difficult times we experience. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved the timely message that this book showcases and it provides a great escape. The storyline was intriguing as well, but I felt like the writing was more reflective than present. There were a few instances where I wish we could have seen flashbacks to see the differences in Duncan’s personality from the present rather than being told of the memory from Sam. I found Sam’s character to be a bit too naive and childish for someone who should be in her late 20s. However, I did like how we got to see how Duncan’s character developed through the story. The one thing I was expecting to see was the slow build of chemistry and emotion connection between the main characters. It seemed to be there, but felt like it was too rushed at the end to be savored. Though I had mixed feelings about this book, I’d still recommend checking this out if you’re a fan of Katherine Center.