Review: Kiss Her Once For Me

Kiss Her Once For Me by Alison Cochrun
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 11/1/2022

Thank you to Atria Books for the free book in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: 

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

Perfect for fans of Written in the Stars and One Day in DecemberKiss Her Once for Me is the queer holiday rom-com that you’ll want to cozy up with next to the fire.

Review: Kiss Her Once For Me is a queer Christmas romance that takes place in Portland, OR. This romance novel contains fake dating, forced proximity, and forbidden romance. I really loved The Charm Offensive so I had high exceptions for this one! I loved the music and pop references in the book. I think there should have been a playlist at the end of the book or something! The biggest part that didn’t work for me was the storyline The plot seemed interesting, but the storyline was an utter mess. There were too many subplots going on and the flashback section was so drawn out. I couldn’t get onboard with Ellie and Jack’s insta-love connection and the miscommunication of it all. There were so many times where one of the characters could have come clean and they didn’t. This wasn’t for me. I’d recommend skipping this one.

Review: Two Wrongs Make a Right

Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 11/22/2022

Thank you Berkley Romance for the free finished copy and PRH Audio for the free audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.

Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash their hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.

To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder, what if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right?

Review: Two Wrongs Make a Right is the first book I’ve read from Chloe Liese. This romcom contains a fake dating trope and dives into family, friendship, healing, and taking chances. Overall, I enjoyed this one! I really loved the relationship between James and Beatrice. I really liked the way that the author built the relationship between the two main characters. Two Wrongs Make a Right is the first book I’ve read from Chloe Liese. This romcom contains a fake dating trope and dives into family, friendship, healing, and taking chances. Overall, I enjoyed this one! I aapreciated the touching note from the author giving the reader a heads up about content warnings and to read with care. I really loved the relationship between James and Beatrice. I really liked the way that the author built the relationship between the two main characters. I also really loved the dual POVS. The audiobook narrators also did a fantastic job! Now I can’t wait for Kate’s story!

Review: The Angel Maker

The Angel Maker by Alex North
Publisher: Celadon
Pub Date: 2/28/2023

Thank you to Celadon for the free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Growing up in a beautiful house in the English countryside, Katie Shaw lived a charmed life. At the cusp of graduation, she had big dreams, a devoted boyfriend, and a little brother she protected fiercely. Until the day a violent stranger changed the fate of her family forever.

Years later, still unable to live down the guilt surrounding what happened to her brother, Chris, and now with a child of her own to protect, Katie struggles to separate the real threats from the imagined. Then she gets the phone call: Chris has gone missing and needs his big sister once more.

Meanwhile, Detective Laurence Page is facing a particularly gruesome crime. A distinguished professor of fate and free will has been brutally murdered just hours after firing his staff. All the leads point back to two old cases: the gruesome attack on teenager Christopher Shaw, and the despicable crimes of a notorious serial killer who, legend had it, could see the future.

Review: The Angel Maker is a horror/thriller that dives into a serial killer who supposedly knows the future, strained family relationships, fate, borderlines to paranormal, and dives into philosophy. The beginning of this book is extremely slow burn. There’s a ton of information thrown at the reader that can be confusing, but stick with it and everything will make sense in the end. There were a couple of portions that I had to reread or go back a chapter to make sure I was on track with what was going on in the storyline. Towards the middle of the book, things start to pick up and I couldn’t put the book down. I didn’t anticipate the twists and turns. I really loved everyone’s perspective except Katie’s. I understood the purpose of Katie’s perspective, but I found her character to be a bit drab. Overall, this was 3.5 stars for me, but rounded to 4 on GoodReads. If you’re a fan of Alex North’s other work, then The Angel Maker may interest you.

Review: Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
Publisher: Forever
Pub Date: 11/15/2022

Thank you to Forever for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Their love was supposed to last forever. But when life delivered blow after devastating blow, Yasmen and Josiah Wade found that love alone couldn’t solve or save everything.

It couldn’t save their marriage.

Yasmen wasn’t prepared for how her life fell apart, but she’s is finally starting to find joy again. She and Josiah have found a new rhythm, co-parenting their two kids and running a thriving business together. Yet like magnets, they’re always drawn back to each other, and now they’re beginning to wonder if they’re truly ready to let go of everything they once had.

Soon, one stolen kiss leads to another…and then more. It’s hot. It’s illicit. It’s all good—until old wounds reopen. Is it too late for them to find forever? Or could they even be better, the second time around?

Review: Before I Let Go is the first book in the Skyland series. book features Yasmine and Josiah This contemporary romance novel explores divorce, co-parenting, small business life, mental health representation, struggle, and hope. The author addresses some heavy subjects in here: grief, death of a loved one, child death, mental illness to name a few. Overall, I loved this one and it deserves all the stars. This is the first Kennedy Ryan book I read and definitely won’t be my last. I’m typically not a fan of second chance romance trope, but this was so well written. The storyline tugged at my heart strings and I truly felt empathetic towards each main character. One of the other aspects I loved about the novel was Yasmine and her best friends. It was refreshing for the main character to have best friends that she met in the last couple of years after her divorce than with friends she’s known for years. Hendrix and Soledad were so supportive of Yasmine and I’m really hoping each of them have their own books! Highly recommend picking this one up if you’re a romance reader!

Review: The Family Game

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 10/18/2022

Thank you to PRH Audio for the free audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Harry is a novelist on the brink of stardom; Edward, her husband-to-be, is seemingly perfect. In love and freshly engaged, their bliss is interrupted by the reemergence of the Holbecks, Edward’s eminent family and the embodiment of American old money. For years, they’ve dominated headlines and pulled society’s strings, and Edward left them all behind to forge his own path. But there are eyes and ears everywhere. It was only a matter of time before they were pulled back in . . .

After all, even though he’s long severed ties with his family, Edward is set to inherit it all. Harriet is drawn to the glamour and sophistication of the Holbecks, who seem to welcome her with open arms, but everything changes when she meets Robert, the inescapably magnetic head of the family. At their first meeting, Robert slips Harry a cassette tape, revealing a shocking confession which sets the inevitable game in motion.

What is it about Harry that made him give her that tape? A thing that has the power to destroy everything? As she ramps up her quest for the truth, she must endure the Holbecks’ savage Christmas traditions all the while knowing that losing this game could be deadly.

Review: The Family Game is the first book I read from Catherine Steadman. This domestic thriller is a slow burn and Dolores strained family relationships, unraveling secrets, instinct, and truth. The first half of the book is pretty slow and I guessed the twist early. I felt that the action didn’t start till the second half of the book. I found Harriet to be extremely annoying at first and didn’t understand why she didn’t listen to the tape in one sitting. The premise sounded interesting, but I felt it wasn’t executed well. As for the audio, I think it would have been better if there was a male narrator for the tape recording. The author reads it herself which is fine, but it didn’t have that much of an impact. This isn’t a book I would recommend, but if it is on your TBR, you might like it.

Review: Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 10/18/2022

Thank you to Avon for the free ebook and audiobook copy on NetGalley and from LibroFM in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: At thirty-five, with a stable job as an accountant, Mira Chaudhary wants nothing more than to find a boring man to spend the rest of her life with. Having had enough excitement in her younger days and desperately trying to escape her dysfunctional past, she turns to a matching app specializing in Indian American singles to help her find someone to settle down with.

Enter Naveen Desai. An English professor with an uneventful, normal, and—dare she say it, boring—life, Naveen is perfect.

But just when things are going well, Mira receives news that her aunt has died. Suddenly a trip to Las Vegas to settle her aunt’s affairs turns into a mad dash to escape kidnappers, evade art thieves, and consorting with hackers who can decipher just what it was Mira’s aunt was involved with. Mira just hopes that Naveen isn’t chased away by the very same life of “excitement” that she’s been trying to get away from. But maybe, over the course of one wild night, Mira and Naveen will find the love connection that neither expected.

Review: Partners in Crime is a romantic suspense novel that has a second chance romance and takes place in Las Vegas. This romance novel explores a jewelry heist, family drama. strained relationships, and troubled pasts. This was a fun  and suspenseful story! I loved that it was action-packed and the story kept my interest throughout. I didn’t see the twists coming which was a pleasant surprise. The only part I didn’t like was how a couple of things at the end were resolved so quickly when there was resentment or tension about it for years – I found that part to be odd. As for the audio, I thought the male narrator chosen was perfect. The female narrator was okay, but I found her voice to be a bit too whiny at times. This was a 3.5 for me, but I rounded up to 4 stars on GoodReads. I’d recommend picking Partners in Crime if you’re looking for a combo of mystery, suspense, and romance! 

Review: Our Missing Hearts

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 10/4/2022

Thank you to PRH Audio for the free audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. Bird knows to not ask too many questions, stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old.

Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York City, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.

Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power—and limitations—of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.

Review: Our Missing Hearts is the third book I’ve read from Celeste Ng and one of my most anticipated reads. This contemporary/dystopian novel explores themes of injustice, community, legacy, and parent-child relationships. This book is pretty heavy and so heartbreaking. The author touches upon subjects of missing children, discrimination, abandonment, and hate crimes to name a few. The story is about a boy named bird is sets off on a quest to find out the truth about his mother and why she left. The writing style captured me from the first page and as I was reading, I had no idea where the story would take me. All the characters are flawed and yet my heart ached for what they had to go through. Highly recommend picking this one up if you loved Celeste’s previous books!

Review: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 8/23/2022

Thank you to Berkley for the free finished copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….

Review: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a fantasy romance and the first book I’ve read from Sangu Mandanna. This fantasy romance book contains grumpy/sunshine trope and explores themes of belonging, found family, identity, and kindness. Overall, I enjoyed this book! This was a book that tugged my heartstrings. I really loved that the theme of found family was the main focus and the romance was secondary. I liked how the setting was a character in itself as well. This was the perfect witchy read to start spooky season! Highly recommend if you love witchy books with a dash of romance in them!

Review: Drunk on Love

Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 09/20/2022

Thank you to Berkley Romance & PRH Audio for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Margot Noble needs some relief from the stress of running the family winery with her brother. Enter Luke: sexy, charming, and best of all in the too-small world of Napa, a stranger. The chemistry between them is undeniable, and Margot is delighted that she lucked into the perfect one-night stand she’ll never have to see again. That is, until the winery’s newest hire, Luke, walks in the next morning. Margot is determined to keep things purely professional, but when their every interaction reminds her of the attraction still bubbling between them, it proves to be much more challenging than she expects.

Luke Williams had it all, but when he quits his high-salary tech job in Silicon Valley in a blaze of burnout and moves back to Napa to help a friend, he realizes he doesn’t want to tell the world–or his mom–why he’s now working at a winery. His mom loves bragging about her successful son–how can he admit that the job she’s so proud of broke him? Luke has no idea what is next for him, but one thing is certain: he wants more from the incredibly smart and sexy woman he hooked up with–even after he learns she’s his new boss. But even if they can find a way to be together that wouldn’t be an ethical nightmare, would such a successful woman really want a tech-world dropout?

Set against a lush backdrop of Napa Valley wine country, nothing goes to your head as fast as a taste of love–even if it means changing all your plans.

Review: Drunk on Love is a contemporary romance novel that places in Napa Valley. This book explores the winery business, finding your identity, burn out, and joy. I love that each of her books focus on a certain place in California and was excited that this one takes place in Napa. Overall, I found this to be a decent read. I loved that it was a lighthearted, quick, and easy read. This was one of those instances where I loved the backdrop more than the characters. The characters were fine individually, but I was craving more depth and chemistry between the main characters. In terms of the narration, the day narration was done well and kept me engaged with the story. If you’re a fan of Jasmine Guillory’s previous books, you may enjoy this one.

Review: Well Traveled

Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 12/6/2022

Thank you to Berkley for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: A high-powered attorney from a success-oriented family, Louisa “Lulu” Malone lives to work, and everything seems to be going right, until the day she realizes it’s all wrong. Lulu’s cousin Mitch introduced her to the world of Renaissance Faires, and when she spies one at a time just when she needs an escape, she leaps into the welcoming environment of turkey legs, taverns, and tarot readers. The only drawback? Dex MacLean: a guitarist with a killer smile, the Casanova of the Faire… and her traveling companion for the summer.

Dex has never had to work for much in his life, and why should he? Touring with his brothers as The Dueling Kilts is going great, and he always finds a woman at every Faire. But when Lulu proves indifferent to his many plaid charms and a shake-up threatens the fate of the band, Dex must confront something he never has before: his future.

Forced to spend days and nights together on the road, Lulu’s interest in the kilted bad boy grows as he shows her a side of himself no one else has seen. The stresses of her old lifestyle fade away as she learns to trust her intuition and follow her heart instead of her head. But when her time on the road is over, will Lulu go with her gut, or are she and Dex destined for separate paths?

Review: Well Traveled is the fourth book in the Well Met series that features Lulu (Mitch’s cousin) and Dex (guitarist and singer of The Dueling Kilts). This isn’t a stand alone book as it does refer to what happened in Well Played (second book) and Well Matched (third book). Overall, I enjoyed this one! I really loved the growth and transformation we see in Lulu throughout the story. I love how we see how vulnerable she is and that the author discusses about Lulu’s burnout, finding her purpose, and finding joy in small things. I also loved that we got to reconnect with characters from previous books as well. I loved how supportive Mitch, Stacey, and April were of Lulu. The only two parts that didn’t really work for me was the main male character and digital detox. The author shows how much Dex has grown from the story and I’m glad they touched upon what happened in Well Played, but I wanted a bit more to make him a multidimensional character. As for the digital detox, I could understand someone who was on their phone and laptop all the time doing a digital detox for like a week, but two months without seemed a bit unrealistic to me. Despite those two parts, I found it to be an entertaining read though it’s not my favorite in the series. I’m really hoping that the author does a story or a novella about Caitlin (April’s daughter). I’d recommend picking this one up if you love the Well Met series!