Review: First Comes Like

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
Publication: Avon
Publication 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!

Review: Accidentally Engaged

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
Publication: Read Forever
Publication Date: 3/2/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

Review: I loved The Chai Factor so I was super excited to hear that Amira’s best friend, Reena, would be the focus in Accidentally Engaged. This contemporary romance is explores self-discovery, family pressure, culinary delights, and cultural expectations/values. This was such a cute heartfelt romance read! All the characters felt so real and were entertaining to read. The chemistry between Reena and Nadi forming a friendship into a fake engagement was organic. I really liked the way the author portrayed Reena and Nadim’s overbearing but loving parents and shed light into Indian culture. The secondary characters like Saira, Marley, and Shayne were sweet and encouraging. I also loved that we get cameo appearances from Amira and Duncan from The Chai Factor. If you loved The Chai Factor or love contemporary romance books in general, I highly recommend picking this one up. FYI Accidentally Engaged can be read as a stand alone, but I think you would enjoy it more if you’ve already read The Chai Factor.

Rating: 4/5

Review: The Boy Toy

IMG_1498 (1)

The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh
Publication: Berkley
Publication Date: 11/17/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital 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 woman ready to give up on love discovers that age is truly just a number in this heartwarming and steamy new romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Nicola Marsh.

For almost a decade, successful 37-year-old Samira Broderick has used her bustling LA practice as an excuse to avoid a trip home to Australia. She still resents her meddling Indian mother for arranging her marriage to a man who didn’t stick around when the going got tough, but now with a new job Down Under, she’s finally ready to reconnect with her. And while she’s there, a hot international fling might be just what she needs to get out of her recent funk.

Aussie stuntman, Rory Radcliffe, has been hiding his stutter for years by avoiding speaking roles. When a job he can’t refuse comes up as a reality show host, he knows he’ll need some help for the audition: a dialect coach. But he finds himself at a loss for words when he discovers it’s the same sexy woman with whom he just had a mind-blowing one-night stand…

Samira can think of many reasons why Rory is completely wrong for her: he’s ten years her junior, for one, and he’s not Indian–something Samira’s mother would never approve of. Even if things were to get serious, there’s no reason to tell her mother…is there?

Review: The Boy Toy is the first book I’ve read by Nicola Marsh. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the premise of this book and that it didn’t fit the standard checklist of traditional romance novels. The immersion of cultures, balancing traditional and modern values, strained relationships with parents felt refreshing and real. I liked seeing the older woman/younger man troupe and mention of Rory’s stutter. The first half of the book was intriguing, but once the second half took an unexpected turn which I won’t spoil, it went downhill from there. I was disappointed that the author kept focusing on Samira’s age in a negative light. Other than that, you may want to check this out if you’re a fan of romance books.

Rating: 3/5

Review: Super Fake Love Song

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
Publication: Penguin Teen
Publication Date: 11/17/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: When Sunny Dae—self-proclaimed total nerd—meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom—with its electric guitars and rock posters—for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

Sunny goes all in on the lie, and pretty soon, the strangest things start happening. People are noticing him in the hallways, and he’s going to football games and parties for the first time. He’s feeling more confident in every aspect of his life, and especially with Cirrus, who’s started to become not just his dream girl but also the real deal. Sunny is falling in love. He’s having fun. He’s even becoming a rocker, for real.

But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it—and if it’s possible to ever truly change.

Review: Super Fake Love Song is David Yoon’s second novel. After loving his debut, Frankly In Love, I was really excited for this one. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t up to par to Frankly In Love which was a five-star read for me. The plot sounded really intriguing, but there were times where the story felt like it was dragging. I loved the diverse set of characters, but all the characters were pretty unlikable. The main character, Sunny, was a bit too whiny. His love interest, Cirrus, seemed to have no personality at all and we don’t know much about her. I wasn’t a fan of the way the dialogue was written here and some of the parts were written oddly. Overall, I would recommend skipping this one.

Rating: 2/5

Review: Love Your Life

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella
Publication: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 10/27/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished 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: Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

Review: Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel, Love Your Life, is a cute lighthearted romance that I definitely needed at the beginning of this month. This contemporary romance novel is a opposites attract / instalove type troupe that explores self-discovery, friendship, lust, and reality. Overall, I enjoyed this one! I thought that the protagonists’ friends outshines the protagonists. As expected in a Sophie Kinsella novel, I loved that there were laugh out loud and cheesy moments. There were a few times where I felt the protagonists were a bit too extreme, but felt that it ended off nicely. If you’re a fan of Sophie Kinsella or are looking for something fun and lighthearted, I’d recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Crazy Stupid Bromance

Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publication: Berkley Publishing Group
Publication Date: 10/27/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.

Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush. 

Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.

A hacktivist and a cat café owner decode the friend zone in this romantic comedy from the author of Undercover Bromance. 

Review: Crazy Stupid Bromance is the third book in the Bromance Book Club series and features Alexa and Noah. Although this can be read as a stand alone, I’d recommend reading the previous books as you wouldn’t catch some of the references to the other books’ characters. This wasn’t my favorite of the three, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. I like that we get to see the characters in previous books progress in their lives in this book. My favorite aspect of this series is that we get to see the bromance book club come together and support each other. Though there are parts in this book that are highly unrealistic, it was still a fun and light read even though there were undertones of serious subjects. If you loved the previous books or like friends turned lovers trope, then this book is definitely for you. I’m excited to hear that there will be a fourth book coming out soon featuring the Russian and his wife!

Rating: 3/5

Review: In a Holidaze

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Publication: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 10/6/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Review: Christina Lauren is my favorite set of duo authors. I loved this holiday themed, childhood friends to lovers romance read. All the characters were delightful and loved that this book promoted self growth. I felt like I was watching a Hallmark Christmas movie while I was reading this book. There are a couple of sappy/cheesy moments, but that was to be expected. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times. Overall, I highly recommend checking this one out if you love Christmas romance novels!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Layla

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.

Review: 3/5

Review: Well Played

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. 

Rating: 3/5

Review: Dating Makes Perfect

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.

Until now.

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!

Rating: 4/5