Review: First Love, Take Two

First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 9/21/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Read Forever Pub in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.

Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance?

Review: First Love, Take Two is the second book in The Trouble With Hating You series. This romance book explores second chance romance, anxiety, interracial relationships, social pressure from community, and friendship. I appreciated that the author had a note in the beginning expressing that the story contains heavy and sensitive subjects including mental health and racism. Overall, I liked reading this one. I’m usually not a fan of second chance romances, but the chemistry between Preeti and Daniel is clearly shown in the pages. One of my favorite aspects of the book is that the author doesn’t hold back. She shows the good, the bad, the ugly. The book shows the social and cultural conflicts that the older and younger generations have against each other. Personally, I loved The Trouble With Hating You more, but this is such a strong sequel. I would recommend picking this up, but keep in mind of the author’s note before you do.  

Review: The Charm Offensive

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 9/7/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free 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: Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

Review: The Charm Offensive is a LGBTQ+ romance novel that explores behind the scenes on a dating reality show similar to The Bachelor, mental health effects, friendships, and finding identity. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this one! I could definitely see this become a movie or a limited TV series. I really loved the diverse representation and various sexual identities in this book. It’s definitely a combination of One to Watch and Red, White & Royal Blue. Definitely recommend picking this one up if you love romance books!

5 Romance Books Paired With Taylor Swift Songs

What better way to celebrate romance awareness month than to match some of my recent romance reads with Taylor Swift songs? Hope you enjoy these pairings!

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
The Man – Taylor Swift
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
London Boy – Taylor Swift
Happiness for Beginners by Katherline Center
Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
End Game – Taylor Swift
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Delicate – Taylor Swift

Review: The Dating Playbook

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Read Forever Pub in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle.

And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch—no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?

Review: The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon is the second book in the The Boyfriend Project series. This romance novel features Taylor and Jamar, contains a fake dating troupe, explores the NFL world, and sets place in Austin. Overall, this was a cute read! I enjoyed Taylor and Jamar’s banter and their sexual tension. I also loved that Samiah and London are still supporting characters and love the way the author writes about strong female friendship. I can’t wait for London’s love story to release next year!

Review: The Heart Principle

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 8/31/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley Romance in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

Review: The Heart Principle is the third book in The Kiss Quotient series which features Quan and his love interest, Anna. This has been one of my most anticipated reads this year. Before reading this novel, I read a post from the author that this book is not a romcom, but there is a love story and character growth. Overall, this is an intense and emotional book. I adored this story and I loved reading about Anna and Quan’s journeys. One of the aspects I really loved about this book was how real the situations were and that Anna and Quan were portrayed as real people instead of putting a rose colored lens on them. I also loved the author’s note that even though this was fiction, part of this was kind of like a memoir especially Anna’s part. The author addresses so many sensitive subjects in a realistic way: grief, terminal illness, caregiving, cancer, gaslighting, suicidal ideation, and gaslighting. I would highly recommend reading this novel if you loved the previous books in this series.

4 Anticipated August Romance Reads

There are so many exciting new releases coming out this month! August is romance awareness month and below I’m sharing four of my most anticipated romance reads this month. Are any of these on your radar?

(All images from GoodReads)

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
Publisher: Avon Books
Pub Date: 8/3/2021

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker
Publisher: Avon Books
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pub Date: 8/31/2021

Review: Last Summer at the Golden Hotel

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 5/18/21

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy of this book from Berkley in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: A family reunion for the ages when two clans convene for the summer at their beloved getaway in the Catskills–perfect for fans of Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel–from the acclaimed author of The Floating Feldmans.

In its heyday, The Golden Hotel was the crown jewel of the hotter-than-hot Catskills vacation scene. For more than sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families – best friends and business partners – have presided over this glamorous resort which served as a second home for well-heeled guests and celebrities. But the Catskills are not what they used to be – and neither is the relationship between the Goldmans and the Weingolds. As the facilities and management begin to fall apart, a tempting offer to sell forces the two families together again to make a heart-wrenching decision. Can they save their beloved Golden or is it too late?

Long-buried secrets emerge, new dramas and financial scandal erupt, and everyone from the traditional grandparents to the millennial grandchildren wants a say in the hotel’s future. Business and pleasure clash in this fast-paced, hilarious, nostalgia-filled story, where the hotel owners rediscover the magic of a bygone era of nonstop fun even as they grapple with what may be their last resort.

Review: Last Summer at the Golden Hotel is the first book I’ve read from Elyssa Friedland. This contemporary novel explores family business, strained relationships, long buried secrets, and traditional vs. modern perspectives. Overall, this was a decent read. I really liked the plot of the story, but I wasn’t really a fan of execution. The family drama was entertaining and I liked a few of the characters. One of the main issues I had with this book was that there were way too many characters. I liked the various chapter perspectives, but it feels like it was more of just a third party narrative than individual narratives. Also this is one of those times in a book where I wish we were given the present versus the past instead of just the present. I kept switching from reading the physical book that Berkley gifted me and the audiobook I bought. If you decide to read this, I recommend going with the audiobook because Julia Whelan narrates it. Her audiobook narration is the reason I was able to enjoy the book. I’d recommend reading this if you’re looking for a fun family drama summer read.

Review: The Stranger in the Mirror

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine
Publisher: Harper
Pub Date: 7/6/21

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced physical copy this book from Harper in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Addison’s about to get married, but she’s not looking forward to the big day. It’s not her fiancé; he’s a wonderful man. It’s because Addison doesn’t know who she really is. A few years ago, a kind driver found her bleeding next to a New Jersey highway and rescued her. While her physical wounds healed, Addison’s memory never returned. She doesn’t know her real name. Or how she ended up injured on the side of a road. Or why she can’t shake the notion that she may have done something very, very bad . . .

In a posh home in the Boston suburbs, Julian tries to figure out what happened to his loving, caring wife, Cassandra, who disappeared without a trace two years ago. She would never have left him and their seven-year-old daughter Valentina of her own free will—or would she?

As these two lives intersect, The Stranger in the Mirror hooks readers with riveting drama, told with Liv Constantine’s hallmark blend of glamour, tense psychological thrills, and jaw-dropping twists.

Review: The Stranger in the Mirror is the fourth book I’ve read from Liv Constantine. This thriller explores memory loss, toxic relationships, deception, and secrets. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel! The small chapters, multiple POVs, unreliable narrators captured my interest. I really loved that the writing style kept me on my toes since the beginning. I usually don’t like amnesia thrillers, but this one was done well. There were some twists towards the end that I didn’t see coming which made this wild ride even more fun. Definitely recommend picking this one up if you loved The Last Mrs. Parrish and/or if you love amnesia thrillers.

Review: Isn’t It Bromantic?

Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 7/20/21

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley Romance in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.

Review: Isn’t It Bromantic? is the fourth novel in the Bromance series that final features Vlad (the Russian). This has been one my most anticipated summer reads! The romance troupe in this one focuses on marriage by convenience. I loved this one! Out of all the Bromance series, I think this may be my favorite tied with Undercover Bromance. I really liked that the author didn’t shy away from Vlad’s vulnerable side and it was wonderful to see him grow throughout the books. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Elena but I did enjoy how the author made her character grow as well. The only part I didn’t like was that I felt the ending  was a bit too rushed, but other than that, I really enjoyed that we caught glimpses of characters from previous novels and there were snippets of their relationships progressing.I’m really hoping that we get Colton’s love story next! I’m curious who he will end up with. I highly recommend picking this up if you’re a fan of the Bromance series. This is definitely a book you can read as a stand alone, but I think you’d enjoy it more if you read the previous books. Lastly, I’m super stoked for the movie which I can’t wait to be released!

Review: While We Were Dating

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 7/13/21

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley and free audiobook copy from Penguin Random House audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Ben Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little…

Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?

But their lighthearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they’ve barely shared with those closest to them.

When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?

Review: While We Were Dating is the sixth book into the Wedding Date series by Jasmine Guillory. This contemporary romance novel is a fast lighthearted read. This book features Ben Stephens, Theo’s younger brother, who meets Anna, a famous actress, and end up from secret dating to fake dating. Overall, this was decent read for me. One of of the strongest points in this book was mental health representation. I love the Bay Area and Palm Springs setting in this novel. I also liked that Theo and Maddie from The Wedding Party popped in the background and so did Nic and Carlos from The Proposal. The part that didn’t work for me was the conflict in this book which seemed trivial. There also a couple of California logistics that I was hung up on while reading. If you like the wedding date series, you may want to pick this up.