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 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: 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.

Review: The Good Sister

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 4/13/2021

Disclaimer: I received an advanced 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. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

Review: The Good Sister is the second book I’ve read from from Sally Hepworth. This book felt more like mystery than a thriller to me. The storyline is intriguing, more character driven and it’s a slow burn. Though I picked up on a couple of clues in the beginning, I found it to be an enjoyable read. All the characters were well thought out. I really enjoyed reading the perspectives of past vs. present perspectives from the twins, Rose and Fern. I kept switching from reading the physical book and the audiobook. I really liked the audiobook narrator as I felt like she made the story come alive. Highly recommend picking this up if you’re looking for a domestic slow burn mystery!

Review: Survive the Night

Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin Random House) 
Pub Date: 6/29/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Dutton (Penguin Random House) in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.

Review: I’m a huge Riley Sager fan so I was ecstatic to hear he releasing a new book this year, Survive the Night.  This thriller takes place in the ‘90s and dives into cat-and-mouse chase, grief, guilt, and instinct. I really loved the concept and plot of this book, but unfortunately, the execution fell a bit flat for me which is surprising because I loved Riley’s previous books. I noticed in the beginning I kept comparing this book to No Exit by Taylor Adams which is unfair since they are different type of books but they both involve abduction and takes place in the winter. The beginning of the book was a bit slow for me, but as we got 60% through, I found Riley Sager’s familiar adrenaline type writing which I love. I found Charlie’s character to be a bit dull, but I liked the complexity of the other characters. Overall, this was a 3.5 star read which I rounded to 4 stars. I’d recommend this book to fans who love Riley Sager’s work. 

Review: Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 6/1/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud-because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own-including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Review: Malibu Rising was one of my most anticipated reads this year. This historical fiction novel takes place in 1980s Malibu. If you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo then Mick Riva may sound familiar to you as he is one of Evelyn’s seven husbands! I found this to be an entertaining read. I loved the strong sibling bond between the main characters and the supporting characters were entertaining. It was great to read the present chapters spanning in a 24 hour day while we got glimpses of the past as well. I enjoyed the past chapters more because that had more action while the present chapters seemed to have little action until the end. One part I realized I wanted more of that was in her previous novels and not in this one was a strong background setting. Also being introduced to multiple characters was fun but it felt that it was a bit distracting from the main storyline. If you loved Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones, then I highly recommend picking up Malibu Rising.

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 3/9/2021

Disclaimer: I was gifted this ARC from Bel Canto Books in Long Beach, California.

GoodReads Synopsis: Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown is the third book of the Brown sisters series. This book could also be read as a stand-alone. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. One aspect I really liked about this book was the character development. The main characters take ownership of their flaws and grow from their experiences. It was great to see scenes where the reader gets to see Chloe and Dani, Eve’s sisters and main characters from previous books, pop up. There is also quite a bit of steamy scenes in this one. I definitely recommend this book if you loved the previous books in the series or are a fan of romance!

Review: First Comes Like

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 2/16/2021

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Avon Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

Review: First Comes Like is the third book in the Modern Love series and can be read as a stand alone. I was so excited to finally see that Jia was going to have her love story since she was first introduced in book 2 of the Forbidden Heart series, Wrong to Love You, as Sadia’s sister and then she made appearances in the Modern Love series, The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral, as Rhiannon and Katrina’s friend and roommate. This book is more of a slow burn and is definitely a way more tame than any of Alisha Rai’s previous books. The author definitely tackles sensitive issues like traditional beliefs, conservatism, religion, and family pressure in a tactful way while implementing the fake relationship and catfish tropes. I really liked the fake relationship trope in this story which worked out well, but I just couldn’t get into the catfishing trope (FYI I have not found any romance book that successfully does the catfish trope). Though both of the main characters are sweet and they’re a great fit for each other, the pace of their relationship was a bit off and felt that the main characters overall were a bit flat. I love that we see reoccurring characters from previous books like Rhiannon, Katrina, Sadia, and Lakshmi. We are also introduced to some lovable new side characters like Adil Uncle and Luna. Even though I didn’t enjoy this as much as I enjoyed Girl Gone Viral, I absolutely love the author’s writing style. I’m really hoping we’ll get to read Lakshmi’s story next!