ARC Review: The Charm Offensive by Alison Chocrun

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“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:

I received The Charm Offensive ARC from the publisher. This book was fun and romantic and had oodles of representation, which was incredible. If you enjoyed Red, White, and Royal Blue, or One to Watch then this book will definitely interest you.

The Charm Offensive follows Dev and Charlie. Dev is a producer and handler on Ever After, a successful Bachelor-esque reality show. Dev believes in fairytale romances and helps to craft these romances every year. This season is a bit rough for Dev, having just broken up with his long-time boyfriend who also happens to work at Ever After with him. Charlie is this year’s new bachelor. He’s a bit different than the normal Ever After bachelor, being that he isn’t a former contestant. He is looking to rehab his image after a bad split from his tech company. Dev and Charlie form a connection almost immediately, which is rare for Charlie. This follows the up and downs of love and friendship, and how falling in love on a reality show can happen but maybe not always with the people you intend.

Dev and Charlie’s romance and chemistry are spectacular. I really connected with Dev and his depression. Suffering from depression myself, it often feels like I have to put on a face for people. So, Dev’s journey of coming to terms with his depression, and that people can and will love all of him was beautiful. All of the characters are wonderful and fully fleshed out. The relationships and friendships feel real and authentic. I also loved the frank discussions of mental health and therapy throughout this book.

This book has a ton of representation! Dev is an Indian American, gay, and suffers from depression. Charlie comes to terms with his asexuality throughout this book and suffers from OCD and severe anxiety. These are things that aren’t found in your average romance and what I really loved about this book.

I definitely recommend you pick up The Charm Offensive when it comes out on September 7th!

RATING: 4/5

Review: The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.”

REVIEW:

I’ve been anticipating The Intimacy Experiment since I finished The Roommate. The Roommate was one of my favorite books of 2020 and I will recommend it to anyone, so I was really excited to read this follow up. The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan is a companion novel to The Roommate. You don’t need to read it to understand The Intimacy Experiment but you definitely should.

Naomi Grant is our heroine. Introduced to us in The Roommate as Josh’s ex-girlfriend and fellow porn performer, she gets her star turn in this novel. Naomi has a Master’s in Psychology and has been looking to use it in teaching a course on human sexuality and relationships, on top of continuing to run Shameless with Clara. She has hit a roadblock due to her former profession. That’s where Ethan steps in, they meet at an education conference. Ethan is a very attractive, single, and unconventional Rabbi, who is looking to have her teach a course on modern intimacy for his synagogue in hopes of attracting a younger Jewish crowd.

Ethan and Naomi have insane chemistry from the very start of this book. Naomi has some reservations in acting on her attraction because of her past, she doesn’t want that to affect Ethan’s reputation. Ethan is somehow both adorable and hot. He understands Naomi in a way that she really has only experienced once before. Naomi is a fantastic heroine. She has her demons, but she is smart and confident. Her journey through this book is really beautiful. She opens herself back up to things that she blocked off due to her trauma. Some of this is through her relationship with Ethan, and some is through her reconnecting to her Jewish faith. This also allows her to form deeper connections with her friends as well.

I loved that Naomi isn’t tamed by her relationship with Ethan. So while she opens herself up to more intimacy in her relationships, she is still the same Naomi fundamentally. Ethan is a quintessential good guy. He is head over heels for Naomi pretty much immediately and always backs her up. I loved his thoughts on faith and the way they are framed throughout the novel. Their banter is incredible and such a strong part of this book (and of Danan’s writing in general). They felt like a fully fleshed out couple and I loved every minute spent with them. The steamy scenes are A+.

I highly recommend The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan. If you love contemporary romance, then you have to check it out. Rosie Danan writes fully fleshed out characters who are sex-positive. I loved The Roommate and I loved The Intimacy Experiment.

RATING: 5/5

Review: To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.”

REVIEW:

This is my first Lauren Layne novel, and now I need to read more! When I saw the summary of this book it checked off a lot of boxes; set in New York City, and hints of You’ve Got Mail. This book couldn’t really go wrong in my eyes.

Gracie, our protagonist, is a hopeless romantic. She feels stuck in a rut. She put aside her artistic dreams several years ago to take over the family business which was her father’s dying wish. She has gotten a bit too comfortable and is scared of taking chances. The highlight of her day is often her messages from her mystery man, Sir. They met on a dating site, where it is encouraged to fall for the personality first, so no pictures. She has been talking to Sir for months, but one complication is that Sir isn’t available. Sebastian then enters the picture. Her rival soon turned love interest. His company is her shop’s landlord, and he is trying to buy her out. Her family shop isn’t exactly profitable, but neither her nor her siblings want to give the shop up. Sebastian doesn’t fit what Gracie has always thought her dream man would look like. but after a meet-cute moment in the street and an undeniable connection she finds herself meeting up with him again and again.

Sebastian and Gracie’s chemistry is there from the start and the dialogue is superb. Their relationship develops gradually, never feeling rushed. Our main characters are rounded out with well thought out supporting characters that help build the world. Gracie’s relationship with her siblings is a definite highlight of this book. There is a lot of joy and hopefulness is this book, which I adored. While the book can be a bit formulaic plot wise, everything else is so well developed that it doesn’t hurt this novel.

To Sir, With Love feels just like a fairytale that our heroine loves. To Sir With Love will be released June 29th, 2021 by Gallery Books. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the ARC. All thoughts are my own!

RATING: 5/5

Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.”

REVIEW:

Head Over Heels has been sitting on my TBR for awhile and I just had to grab it on my last library trip. I was so excited to check this book out, because I have to admit I always get sucked into Women’s Gymnastics during the Summer Olympics. What they do is just so incredible. So I loved the concept of this book.

Avery spent her whole life training to be an Olympian, she gave up a normal childhood for the chance at glory. It all came crashing down at her Olympic trials. She suffers a devastating injury that ends her Olympic dreams. Avery never really had plans for what happened after the Olympics. It has been years since the day her world imploded, but she still really hasn’t processed her trauma. After a breakup and a move back to her hometown, she realizes that she needs to come to terms with her destroyed dreams.

I loved the honest conversations had about mental health and the pressures that these athletes have put on them. I loved the journey that Avery goes on in this book. She remembers what she loves about gymnastics, she discovers new things she loves, she makes new friends, and rekindles old friendships. I loved that this book while a contemporary romance doesn’t solely focus on romantic relationships. Avery focuses on loving herself again, and the importance of her friends in her lives while also discovering a new romance.

Avery and Ryan have chemistry right from the start and I loved their history. I enjoyed their whole dynamic and the respect that Ryan has for her. Obviously, I was very frustrated with some of his choices, but I did love that when he realized how wrong he was he admitted to it.

This book has a great and honest message about mental health. It is Avery coming to terms with her trauma and the realization that this sport she loves has caused her a lot of pain. She realizes that she doesn’t want anyone to go through that pain as she did. It is a beautiful message and told very well. I couldn’t put this book down once I picked it up. I definitely recommend!

RATING: 5/5

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.”

REVIEW:

I completely loved this book! This book sucks you in from page one. All I wanted to do was read this book. I had been seeing The Hating Game everywhere and kept hearing wonderful things about It . It definitely lived up to the hype.

The Hating Game is narrated entirely from Lucy’s perspective. It works really well because Lucy makes a lot of assumptions. We are seeing everything through her eyes. So of course everything is skewed her way. Nothing is super groundbreaking about the plot or characters. Though one thing I did really enjoy was that Josh was the shy/insecure one of the couple. You don’t always see that in romance book couples. Their chemistry is undeniable and clearly obvious to everyone around them. Their passive-aggressive banter is amazing and so well done. As their relationship progresses, Lucy realizes how much she does and doesn’t know Josh and you fall for him along the way too. The last chapter of this book is picture perfect and I had the biggest smile on my face as I read it.

This book just made me feel warm and fuzzy. I didn’t want to put it down. I just wanted to tune out the world and keep reading this book. It reminded me why I absolutely love contemporary romance and it was completely addictive.

This book is exactly what you’re looking for with a rom-com. I will be recommending this for a long time.

RATING: 5/5

WWW Wednesday – April 7, 2021

Happy Wednesday and happy April! I’m so excited for the warmer temps that are hitting the Northeast. It feels like Spring has finally arrived. Since it is Wednesday that means it’s time for WWW Wednesday.

As always, I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments or share to your own blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey. I’ve been on a romance kick recently, probably because none of them are disappointing. Fix Her Up is absolutely great so far. Georgie and Travis have amazing chemistry and I’m definitely picking up more books by Tessa Bailey.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein. This book had been sitting on my TBR for awhile, and I grabbed it on my last library trip. This book did not disappoint! I absolutely loved it. It tackles the importance of mental health head on, while also delivering a satisfying romance. I definitely recommend.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think my next book is going to be Plain Bad Heroines. It just arrived at my library and it sounded so interesting. I think it will be a nice change in genre since I normally just bounce between Romance and Fantasy.

WWW Wednesday – March 17, 2021

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Since it is Wednesday, it means another WWW Wednesday! I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments, or share to your own blog!

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently rereading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I told you all it was going to happen. The entire time I read A Court of Silver Flames, I just kept thinking man I want to reread the ACOTAR series. I couldn’t get it off my brain, and I hit a reading slump. So here we are! Honestly, it’s really nice to reread. This series is very much a comfort series for me and I kind of need that right now.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished Well Played by Jen DeLuca. Honestly, this book is fine. I had added it to my TBR after reading Well Met at the beginning of last year which I really enjoyed. This book doesn’t really change the game, but that’s ok. It is an enjoyable rom-com and if that is what you are looking for then its perfect. I’ll have a full review posted to my blog soon.

What do you think you’ll read next?

This is really tough because I’ve been in a real reading slump. I think I might read Storm & Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This one has been sitting on my Kindle for awhile, so it might be nice to clear that off the shelf. This is genuinely a tough question to answer right now. So this could change, it is whatever strikes my fancy right now.

Review: Always Only You by Chloe Liese

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

Ren

The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is.

I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.

Frankie

I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about.

Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.”

REVIEW:

Always Only You has been sitting on my TBR for a couple of months now, and I’m glad I finally downloaded it. This book just gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling throughout.

Frankie is our autistic heroine, not something you usually find while reading romance novels but very exciting to see. The author also falls on the spectrum, which I found super interesting. Her love interest is Ren Bergman, an actual cinnamon roll. Their chemistry is there from the very start of this novel and doesn’t disappoint. While neither might look like it, they are both feel they are outcasts.

This novel has both the unexpected shared space and the forbidden romance troupe. Ren is a hockey player for the LA Kings and Frankie is their PR. As apart of their contracts they can’t co-mingle but are friendly, which leads to the unexpected co-habitation.

I loved every minute of this book and it was exactly what I needed. I think I had read too many fantasy books in a row, so this was the perfect break. I will now have to go back and read the first book in this series. 

RATING: 4/5

WWW Wednesday – March 3rd, 2021

Happy March! I took a bit of break from posting in February. Long story short, my anxiety and depression were kicking my butt and I kept getting really frustrated by my book choices. I’m back now though, ready to talk about the books I’ve been reading.

It is Wednesday, which means its WWW Wednesday! I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know you answers in the comments or share to your own blog! You can always follow along on my Instagram for more book talk.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the talk of the book world, A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas. I had some fun pre-order drama with Barnes & Noble, that delayed me in reading this book by a week, but I’m now about half way through and enjoying it. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Nesta, so this book has been interesting. One big thing it is doing, is making me want to reread the ACOTAR series. I really miss Feyre and Rhysand. Obviously they are still players in the story, but I just want to hear everything about them. I feel like I’m going to need to schedule a reread in to help fill the hole.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished reading A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova. I absolutely loved this book. It was everything I needed from a fantasy romance. I’ll be posting a full review to the blog soon, but if you love fantasy romance this book checks off all the boxes. I loved that it was a stand-alone, and the slow burn romance between Eldas and Luella is perfect. I definitely recommend!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I have been really bad about picking my next book to read for the last couple of weeks. That being said, my hold on The Hating Game by Sally Thorne just became available at my library. I think this will be my next read and should be perfect after finishing A Court of Silver Flames.

Review: The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiance.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.”

REVIEW:

The Dating Plan was my Book of the Month choice for January, and just what I needed. The first week of January was chaotic to say the least. So every time I went to pick up a book, I was pretty distracted and couldn’t focus. I needed something more lighthearted. This book was perfect.

The Dating Plan has fake fiancé’s, fake marriage, and a woman who loves a good spreadsheet. Daisy is a software engineer, nerdy, but still sexy which was wonderful to read. Liam and Daisy have wonderful chemistry and their banter was perfect. Both of their families are well-rounded and feel incredibly real. (Daisy’s Aunties steal the show.) This book was everything I could want in a romantic comedy. I did find some of the plot, especially toward the end, a bit predictable but it didn’t really hinder the story for me. Sara Desai’s sense of humor is incredible and is a definite highlight of this book.

This book sucked me in with its gorgeous and colorful cover, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Dating Plan was an early release as a part of Book of the Month. It will be available to the general public in March. I definitely recommend it if you are a RomCom lover.

RATING: 4/5

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