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!

Review: The Second First Chance

The Second First Chance by Mona Shroff
Publisher: Harlequin
Pub Date: 8/2/2022

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

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: The Second First Chance is a big, wonderful, messy love story about family, heartbreak, strength and courage. It shows us that sometimes what we want is what we least expect, and that everything we need is often right in front of us.

Strength comes in many different forms.  

Riya Desai and Dhillon Vora grew up together. Sharing secrets, hiding in their tree house, they were playmates, best friends and later—as teenagers—almost something more. Until the devastating house fire that ripped them apart, claiming the life of Dhillon’s father and Riya’s big brother, Samir. Riya and Dhillon have barely spoken since that terrible night, but they both made big decisions based on that fire.

Riya has chosen to fight fire with everything she’s got, but it’s not easy. As the only female firefighter and one of the only people of color at her fire hall, she has to prove herself over and over. Plus, she’s hidden her career from her family.

Dhillon wanted to heal things, so he became a veterinarian. When a chance encounter with a rescue dog throws Riya and Dhillon together again, he’s furious at her career choice. After what happened to them, how can she run into fires on purpose? For Riya, Dhillon’s anger is unacceptable: How can he not see that she’s protecting others from the very losses they both experienced?

Review: The Second First Chance is the first book I’ve read from Mona Shroff. This romance explores family dynamics, resilience, moving on, and being true to yourself. The largest theme of this book has to deal with grief and moving on from a traumatic event. Riya and Dhillon’s families, being next door neighbors, experience loss the day their respective townhomes catch on fire. Riya loses her older brother, Samir, while Dhillon loses his father. This was one really heavy, emotional, and heartfelt read that deserves all the stars. Other heavy subjects the author addresses in this story are pet death, fire injury, car accident, sexual harassment, and medical content. The author does an incredible job showcasing how deeply complex each of the main characters are and how their pasts and feelings are slowly revealed. I also really loved the way the author showed sibling bonds among the families and how important that is along with tying into the Hindu tradition of Rasksha Bandhan celebrating the special sibling bonds between brother and sister. I highly recommend The Second First Chance to anyone who loved Things You Save In A Fire and The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo. If you do read this, please read with care.

Review: The STEMinist Novellas by Ali Hazelwood

The STEMinist Novellas

The STEMinist Novellas by Ali Hazelwood
Publisher: PRH Audio (audiobooks) & Berkley (ebooks)

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

Image from GoodReads

Under One Roof (#1)
Audiobook Pub Date: 2/8/2022
Ebook Pub Date: 5/3/2022

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

Thoughts: Under One Roof has enemies-to-lovers and forced proximity tropes. Overall, this was a cute and fast listen. If you loved the Love Hypothesis, this may be up your alley.

Image from GoodReads

Stuck On You (#2)
Audiobook Pub Date: 3/8/2022
Ebook Pub Date: 6/7/2022

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Nothing like a little rivalry between scientists to take love to the next level.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Logically, Sadie knows that civil engineers are supposed to build bridges. However, as a woman of STEM she also understands that variables can change, and when you are stuck for hours in a tiny New York elevator with the man who broke your heart, you earn the right to burn that brawny, blond bridge to the ground. Erik can apologize all he wants, but to quote her rebel leader—she’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

Not even the most sophisticated of Sadie’s superstitious rituals could have predicted such a disastrous reunion. But while she refuses to acknowledge the siren call of Erik’s steely forearms or the way his voice softens when he offers her his sweater, Sadie can’t help but wonder if there might be more layers to her cold-hearted nemesis than meet the eye. Maybe, possibly, even burned bridges can still be crossed….

Thoughts: Stuck With You features Sadie and Erik and takes place in New York. This novella dives into themes of rival companies, miscommunication, and instalove. Overall, this was a cute and fast listen. If you loved the Love Hypothesis and Under One Roof, you may enjoy Stuck With You.

Image from GoodReads

Below Zero (#3)
Audiobook Pub Date: 4/5/2022
Ebook Pub Date: 7/52022

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: It will take the frosty terrain of the Arctic to show these rival scientists that their chemistry burns hot.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Hannah’s got a bad feeling about this. Not only has the NASA aerospace engineer found herself injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station—but the one person willing to undertake the hazardous rescue mission is her longtime rival.

Ian has been many things to Hannah: the villain who tried to veto her expedition and ruin her career, the man who stars in her most deliciously lurid dreams…but he’s never played the hero. So why is he risking everything to be here? And why does his presence seem just as dangerous to her heart as the coming snowstorm?

Thoughts: Below Zero is the third romance novella in the STEMist novella series. This romance novella features Hannah and Ian. Overall, this was my least favorite of the novellas and wasn’t for me. I noticed that all the novellas involve the same formula containing insta-love, enemies to lovers, she’s tiny and he’s so big type stories. That’s fine, but I was kind of hoping that there would be something distinctly different in this one than other two novellas. There’s a lack of chemistry between the main characters. I couldn’t really get into the story as I was able to with the others. You may enjoy this one if you loved the other two novellas in the series.

Review: Book Lovers

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley Pub
Pub Date: 3/15/2022

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

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry is the third adult romance I’ve read from Emily, but overall fourth book I’ve read from her. This romcom explores sister love, small town life, and taking risks.I l enjoyed this one. The author addresses heavy subjects in the story: death of a parent, grief, pregnancy, and panic attacks/disorders to name a few. I love that Emily’s writing style is pretty consistent in all her books. In Book Lovers, I found it surprising that the story is told only through Nora’s perspective which works well. All the characters are fleshed out and have such great chemistry with one another. Each of the main characters have their flaws, but I love that we get to see main characters’ chemistry heighten, the slow build of their relationship, and the witty banter works so well. The only character annoyed me at the beginning was Nora’s sister, Libby, but I understand why she was written the way she was and liked how we got to see her character grow. Highly recommend picking h toys up if  you’re a  romance reader and/or if you’re a fan of Emily Henry.

Review: One Night on the Island

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pub Date: 2/15/2022

Thank you to Random House for the free advanced copy and PRH Audio for the advanced listening copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Spending her thirtieth birthday alone is the last thing that dating columnist Cleo wanted, but she is going on a self-coupling quasi-sabbatical–at the insistence of her boss–in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she’s booked is a far cry from London, but at least it’s a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some quiet, solitary self-care while she figures out her next steps in her love life and her career.

Mac is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, his soul searching has brought him to the same Irish island in search of his roots and some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both solitude seekers have reserved the same one-bedroom hideaway on exactly the same dates.

Instantly at odds with each other, Cleo and Mac don’t know how they’re going to manage until the next weekly ferry arrives. But as the days go by, they no longer seem to mind each other’s company quite as much as they thought they would…

Written with Josie Silver’s signature warmth, charm and insights into the human heart, One Night on the Island explores the meaning of home, the joys of escape and how the things we think we want are never the things we really need.

Review: One Night on the Island is a contemporary romance that dives into small island life, self discovery, forced proximity love trope, and the meaning of home. Overall, this was my least favorite Josie Silver book and it just wasn’t for me. Both main characters were well-developed. The author has a way of creating these flawed characters in complicated situations that makes you curious about how they’ll navigate through the story, but this time it didn’t work for me. Cleo came off as immature while Mack seemed like he didn’t know what he wanted. I just couldn’t get myself to really empathize or care what was going on in the story. I should have DNF’ed but I was already 50% that I needed to figure out what happened which wasn’t worth it. Aside from this book, I would definitely read more work from this author as I loved her other two books.

Review: The Roughest Draft

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 1/25/2022

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

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Review: The Roughest Draft is the first book I’ve read from this husband and wife author duo. Apparently this book is their adult romance debut as they usually write YA romance. This romance contains former friends to enemies to lovers and forced proximity tropes. The authors touch upon gaslighting and emotional infidelity. Overall, my emotions were all over the place on what I thought about the book. I really loved the premise of the story. At first, I was intrigued by the story and liked the tension, but then it felt the tension was too dragged out by the time I was 50-100 pages in. I liked the alternating perspectives of Katrina and Nathan along with the past and present insight. I didn’t really care for either of their characters. Sometime their thought processes annoyed me at times, but I understood that was part of their characters. The one part I wish we could have read was glimpses of the actual story they were writing. In terms of the ending, I felt like the last 100 pages was a bit rushed. I wished that part was in the middle and more drawn out. Overall, I had a really difficult time rating this one. It was a 3.5 star rating for me, but I rounded to 4 stars on GoodReads.

Review: Dating Dr. Dil

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 3/15/2022

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

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.

Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that, until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic.  

Even though they have conflicting views on love-matches and arranged-matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate. 

Review: Dating Dr. Dil is a romcom inspired by Taming of the Shrew and dives into themes of familial expectations, community, love vs arranged matches, and being true to yourself. Overall, this was a fun read, but it wasn’t for me. I haven’t read Taming of the Shrew so I wasn’t really sure if it lived up to the inspiration of it. I really loved Kareena, but I was not a fan of Prem at all which kind of turned me off from the story. I enjoyed the storyline and there were some laughable moments. I also loved the Taylor Swift references and inspired playlist in the back which was a nice touch. I liked how the author was able to capture the cultural expectations and family dynamics in the South Asian community in the storyline. If you like the fake dating trope in romcoms, I’d recommend picking this up. 

Review: In a New York Minute

In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer
Publisher: Forever
Pub Date: 3/15/2022

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

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: A clever, tender, and romantic novel for readers of Christina Lauren, Jasmine Guillory, and Sophie Cousens, this laugh-out-loud debut is a perceptive reminder that fate can have a sense of humor, and that love can happen…In a New York Minute.

Franny Doyle is having the worst day. She’s been laid off from her (admittedly mediocre) job, the subway doors ripped her favorite silk dress to ruins, and now she’s flashed her unmentionables to half of lower Manhattan. On the plus side, a dashing stranger came to her rescue with his (Gucci!) suit jacket. On the not-so-plus side, he can’t get away from her fast enough.

Worse yet? Someone posted their (entirely not) meet-cute online. Suddenly Franny and her knight-in-couture, Hayes Montgomery III, are the newest social media sensation, and all of New York is shipping #SubwayQTs.

Only Franny and Hayes couldn’t be a more disastrous match. She’s fanciful, talkative, and creative. He’s serious, shy, and all about numbers. Luckily, in a city of eight million people, they never have to meet again. Yet somehow, Hayes and Franny keep running into each other—and much to their surprise, they enjoy each other’s company. A lot. But when Franny’s whole world is turned upside down (again!), can she find the courage to trust in herself and finally have the life—and love—she’s always wanted?

Review: In a New York Minute is the first book I’ve read from Kate Spencer. This adorable romcom definitely gave me ‘90s romcom vibes which I adored. In a New York Minute dives into a charming meet-cute, strong friendships, small business life, and NYC living. I really loved the meet cute between Franny and Hayes. The first half of the book caught my interest and was well paced. The second part of the book was a bit too slow and a bit cheesy for my taste. Highly recommend picking this up if you’re looking for a cute lighthearted funny read!