Genre: Women

Divider

Fix Her Up – Tessa Bailey 5 stars

June 11, 2019 Avon, Boookluvr Reads, Edelweiss, Uncategorized 1

Fix Her Up – Tessa Bailey 5 starsFix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Published by HarperCollins on June 11, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy, Women
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

A brand new romantic comedy from New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey!

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World... whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite.

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there's Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her...

When Travis Ford returns to Port Jefferson after his baseball career ends, he feels like a failure.  It feels like his life is turning out exactly like his alcoholic old man told him it would, and that feeling is tough to swallow.  He never wanted to come back to his home town let alone under these circumstances.  He’s perfectly content to wallow in her apartment drinking and licking his wounds away but his best friend’s little sister has other ideas.


Georgie Castle has been in love with Travis for as long as she can remember.  Even knowing he doesn’t take her any more seriously than the rest of her family, Georgie is determined to remind Travis that just because his baseball career is over that doesn’t mean his life is.  As long as she remembers to keep her feelings to herself while she is helping him, everything will be fine.

Fix Her Up was my first Tessa Bailey book but it will certainly not be my last.  This book was everything I love about contemporary romance when it’s done right.  A charming community with some delightful characters, a family who regardless of their flaws is protective of each other and delightful romance.  Throw in the best friends little sister trope and some hot sex and I’m all in.

Georgie Castle, the heroine of this book, was a delightfully quirky woman who has learned to make the best of the role she has played in her family.   I loved that while she was inexperienced in relationships she was never presented as naïve.  She was a force to be reckoned with from the moment she landed on the page.

Travis Ford was the perfect counterpoint to the bubbly Georgie.  Overly serious, protective, a dirty talker and above all determined not to get involved with his best friend’s sister no matter how much he wanted to.  I swear I could hear his growly voice every time he said something filthy to Georgie.  Watching him fall for her while being completely oblivious that it was happening made my day. 

While I run off to check out Tessa Bailey’s backlog, I will be anxiously awaiting when Dominic and Rosie’s book. 

Divider

The Bride Test – Helen Hoang 4 stars

May 18, 2019 Berkley Trade, Boookluvr Reads, Edelweiss, Uncategorized 1

The Bride Test – Helen Hoang 4 starsThe Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Published by Penguin on May 7, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women, Multicultural & Interracial
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart...

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme's lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who's convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme's time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he's been wrong all along. And there's more than one way to love.

I adored Khai and Esme individually, but the two of them together melted my heart. They were both so vulnerable and scared to do something to hurt those that they loved and yet each approached their vulnerability in their own way.

Esme was always looking for a way over, around or through the obstacles in front of her. I couldn’t help but admire her strength and perseverance will simultaneously being proud of her willingness to leave herself open to be hurt after everything she had experienced in her life. Even when everything happening was out of her control and life kept snatching her dreams away from her she kept pushing through.

Sweet sweet Kai. My heart broke for him so many times in this book. Realizing that the fact he processed emotions differently make him feel like he didn’t have feelings was devastating. Knowing that he had unconsciously pulled back from every relationship in his life both to protect himself and the people he cared about made me want to wrap him in giant hug. I am not an expert on autism so I can’t say whether the portrayal was accurate. I can however say it felt like it was handled well as the reader. I appreciated that Khai was presented as having all the same emotional and physical desires as all of the other romance heroes we read do. Khai was everything anyone could want out of a hero.

The only thing I struggled with was how long Esme kept Jade a secret. It bothered me just like the secret baby trope did because it felt wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understood why she felt like she had to make that decision but I wished she had been honest sooner.

Fans of the Kiss Quotient will certainly enjoy the Bride Test. I felt it was a much stronger storyline and the characters were more developed. For those that haven’t read Kiss Quotient, the Bride Test could be read as a standalone book easily.

Divider

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren 3 stars

May 13, 2019 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Uncategorized 1

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren 3 starsThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 14, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Women, General
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies.

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Deciding on a rating for The Unhoneymooners was tough. I really enjoyed the first 75% of the book. It was a trope I love (forced proximity), the main characters were endearing and it was lighthearted fun. That’s pretty much everything I could ask for from a romantic comedy.

If you don’t want spoilers you will want to skip what’s left of this review. What happened in the last 25% of this book you may ask? Major gaslighting by the people closest to Olive, the heroine in this book. You see, Olive found out that her new brother-in-law has been cheating on her sister for years from his brother who is the hero in this book. He pressured her not to say anything to her sister and Olive intended to honor that request after convincing herself she might not know everything about their relationship. Olive didn’t one want to embarrass her sister or strain the relationships of those she cared the most about so regardless of all of her misgivings she was going to keep her mouth shut.

Here is where my entire opinion of this book changes. We keep getting glimpses into how Dane (the brother-in-law) has been making comments to everyone about how negative Olive is. He has convinced her twin sister and Ethan that she is always looking for problems even where there are none. I am sure you can see where this is going, but it’s worse than you imagine. Dane is so confidence that nobody will believe Olive that he not only pretends there is no issue, but he propositions Olive. At this point Olive realizes that she has to say something to her Ami (her sister). She tells both Ethan and Ami everything and NEITHER OF THEM BELIEVE HER. I wanted to launch my kindle at the wall.

In the end of course, both Ethan and Ami discover that Dane was in fact a scumbag and apologize profusely but you know what? I DON’T CARE! When I look back on the last couple of years and all of the stories of gaslighting that were in the news I just don’t want it in my romance unless it involves a character that you don’t expect me to see as redeemed. Obviously other readers could feel completely differently, but for me reality is hard enough right now. I don’t want to deal with all of it in the same place I am going to find a guaranteed HEA.

The bottom line is, I wish The Unhoneymooners was a choose your own adventure book where I could pick an alternate ending. If the resolution had been handled differently I think I would have loved it.

Divider

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne 4 stars

January 9, 2019 Boookluvr Reads, Uncategorized 1

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne 4 stars99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Published by HarperCollins on January 29, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Women, Romance, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

Readers and critics alike raved over USA Today bestselling author Sally Thorne’s smash hit debut, The Hating Game, which has sold in over 20 countries. Now she’s back with an unforgettable romantic comedy about a woman who finally has a shot at her long time crush—if she dares.

Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

This next hilarious romance includes a special PS section with two Happily Ever Afters—one for this novel featuring Darcy and Tom and the other, an epilogue featuring fan favorites Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman from The Hating Game!

How many books have you read that had small elements that drove you crazy and pulled you out of the story?  Have you ever ended up loving a book despite the things that were jumping on your last nerve while you were reading?   Up until I read 99 Percent Mine I hadn’t and I honestly didn’t believe it was possible.

Let’s start with what drove me crazy.  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of 99 Percent Mine from Edelweiss which means some of this may be different between the ARC and the final copy.  As such, I will be specifically addressing the ARC copy that I read.

  1. There was some serious repetitive use of phrasing in this book.  so help me if I had to hear the heroine repeat her thoughts about being in a bubble one more time I was going to strangle her.
  2. This was a contemporary romance yet the Darcy continually has thoughts of Tom being a wolf.  Once or twice I wouldn’t have noticed but it was enough that my brain was wrapped around it.  Was this book suddenly going to morph into a PNR? It just felt out of place.
  3. Some general wording and transitioning was awkward and confusing.  Multiple times I found myself reading over a couple paragraphs three times trying to figure out what was happening.

So as you can see, there were plenty of irritants for me, but you know what… I also couldn’t put the book down.  I enjoyed the story so much that those things were secondary.  I loved Tom, he was just so swoon worthy.  A true gentle giant who never understood his own worth and is so determined to make everyone else happy.  He and Darcy had chemistry though the roof and you couldn’t help but understand why they were in love with each other for their entire lives.  You can’t help but root for them from the minute Tom arrives on the scene.  This of course means that you want to punch Darcy’s twin brother Jamie in the face throughout most of the book.  The author perfectly captured the dynamic that exists between siblings in this book.  I felt every moment of exasperation clear as day.

I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t as much of a slow burn romance as Thorne’s last book.  I was impatient for the characters to have sex as it was and would have lost my mind if it took forever.

I hope this is the start of a series and that we get to see Jamie and his secret crush find their way next.

Divider