Review: The Mistletoe Pact by Jo Lovett

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“On Christmas Eve eight years ago Evie and Dan made a pact: if they weren’t married by thirty, they were going to marry each other. Of course, neither of them took it seriously, even if Dan has always been mesmerised by Evie’s beautiful smile, and Evie has always fancied Dan, her best-friend’s brother.

But then “it” happens. They wake up on Christmas Eve, the night before Evie’s thirtieth birthday in Vegas… married. In a honeymoon suite filled with hundreds of heart-shaped pillows, they realise too late what they’ve done – just like Ross and Rachel.

Surely if they just get a quickie divorce, they can go back to the way things used to be, right? If it wasn’t for the alcohol and Susan-with-the-huge-beehive-hairdo who just wouldn’t take no for an answer, none of this would have happened. They can just go back to being friends.

Except moving on is easier said than done when you’ve secretly loved each other forever… but if one of them doesn’t admit that, what happens to their friendship? If they don’t get together this time, what happens to the pact? Are they really ready to let it go for good?”

REVIEW:

The Mistletoe Pact follows Evie and Dan. Dan is the older brother of Evie’s childhood best friend, Sasha. They’ve always kinda had crushes on each other but never really acted on them. We learn about their mistletoe pact, a deal they made that if neither one was married by Evie’s 30th birthday, they would get married. It was made in jest but always hung around in the back of their minds. The story jumps around time-wise. We open on Evie’s 30th birthday with Dan and Evie having had a true drunken one-night stand in Vegas and actually gotten married. Both so spooked by this and terrified to destroy their friendship, both panic and ignore having a serious conversation immediately getting the marriage annulled. We go back in time to get a sense of how their friendship started. We also jump to the year after their spur-of-the-moment wedding and annulment. Evie and Dan both have baggage from seeing their parents’ relationships growing up. Evie was raised by a single mom who always had a new boyfriend of the month. She just wants to have stability with whoever she chooses to grow old with. While Dan watched his father cheat regularly and ultimately leave his mother. He’s terrified to fall in love and having his heart broken.

This book is a fun, sweet read perfect for Christmas time. Once I picked up the book it just flew by. I could see myself just curling under a cozy blanket or sitting in front of a fireplace reading this, those are just the vibes this book gives off. I liked that you got alternating points of view, getting both Dan and Evie’s perspective on what was happening. I did feel like this book left a lot of loose ends. I wish we had gotten more of what Sasha thought about Dan and Evie together. I wish there had been just one heart to heart conversation with either Sasha and Dan or Sasha and Evie with what was happening in their relationship. I feel like it would have really added a wonderful depth to the story. I also felt like Dan had a few too many problems. He had commitment issues because of his parents marriage, guilt over an accident with his brother, an unplanned pregnancy with an ex-girlfriend. Because there was so much going on, none of these issues got the full development they needed. some just felt unnecessary.

Overall, this is a fun book. It is a quick read, perfect if you are looking for a book to get you in the Christmas spirit. Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC.

RATING: 3/5

Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?”

REVIEW:

Tokyo Ever After was immediately added to my TBR when I saw the Princess Diaries comparisons. That is one of my favorite book series and movies, so I was excited to read a familiar story with a different take.

Tokyo Ever After follows Izumi, she has never known who her father was growing up with her single mom. The book doesn’t dwell on this for too long, and it is quickly revealed who Izumi’s father is and how this will drastically change her life. Izumi has always wanted to belong but never felt like she did in her predominately white hometown. She sees this as an opportunity to learn her history and have a chance of calling someplace home.

This book was completely wonderful, and I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up. I mean honestly who hasn’t dreamed of secretly being an actual princess. This book is sweet and laugh out funny at times. I loved Izumi’s relationship with her mother and her blossoming relationship with her father. The family aspect of this novel is incredible. You really feel Izumi’s frustrations and heartbreak along with her. Now let’s get to the romance! Bodyguard and Princess romance, sign me up. Seriously, their romance was sugary sweet and I loved every moment of it.

I can’t say enough good things about this book! It’s fun, sweet, and hopeful with a dash of drama mixed in. There was even a genuine surprise for me toward the end. Please add this book to your TBR and read it immediately! I will be counting down the days to the sequel.

RATING: 5/5

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: A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St. Clair

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Persephone’s relationship with Hades has gone public and the resulting media storm disrupts her normal life and threatens to expose her as the Goddess of Spring.

Hades, God of the Dead, is burdened by a hellish past that everyone’s eager to expose in an effort to warn Persephone away. Things only get worse when a horrible tragedy leaves Persephone’s heart in ruin and Hades refusing to help. Desperate, she takes matters into her own hands, striking bargains with severe consequences.

Faced with a side of Hades she never knew and crushing loss, Persephone wonders if she can truly become Hades’ queen.”

REVIEW:

I love re-tellings of the Hades and Persephone myth, so when I read A Touch of Darkness last year I completely loved it. So I immediately added all of the series to my TBR. Then I read some of the mixed reviews of A Touch of Ruin, which made me hesitate.

A Touch of Ruin picks up right after the events in A Touch of Darkness. Persephone is coming to terms with her new powers and strength, dealing with her mother’s deception, and trying to juggle her life in the Upperworld and Underworld. Persephone and Hades’ relationship still has all the passion, but Persephone’s self-doubts begin to creep in and do damage to their relationship. A tragic event occurs that puts even more strain on their relationship and you wonder whether it will survive.

A Touch of Ruin is about Persephone’s journey accepting change. Overwhelming change can feel like a bad thing at times but Persephone realizes, by the end of this novel, that most of the changes have been for the better. This book is a rollercoaster. So much happens! Many of the reviews I read were that Persephone’s actions are incredibly frustrating throughout the book. They aren’t wrong. Persephone and Hades have horrible communication skills, and it is the root cause of every single problem. She feels like she is in an endless cycle of not understanding why Hades did something and instead of asking him, picks the worst way to solve the problem. Then doesn’t understand why Hades is angry with her. Then she gets mad at Hades because he is mad at her. Hades isn’t in the clear here either. If he was just upfront and honest about some of his actions, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It does feel like Persephone and Hades make the same mistakes over and over again in this book.

My biggest problem with this book is that the author doesn’t give anything time to breathe. This book evolves at an incredibly fast pace which makes it a quick read, but so much is happening and nothing has any time to settle. We are just jumping from one plot point to the next at a breakneck speed. Even with its problems, I still enjoyed this book. It has some wonderful smutty goodness and Hermes and Hecate are incredible side characters. I’m excited to see where this story goes because I think it is heading to some exciting places.

RATING: 3/5

WWW Wednesday – April 14, 2021

Happy Wednesday! Time for another 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 am currently reading Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. It is a gothic horror book that piqued my interest on my last library trip. I am enjoying it but is a bit slow going. I’m about 200 pages in and feel like nothing is happening, but there is also a lot of groundwork to be laid. So I feel like I will appreciate all this build up in the long run. I am also continuing my re-read of ACOTAR, picking up A Court of Wings and Ruin. This series is so hard for me to put down once I pick it up.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished Much Ado About You by Samantha Young. This was a really charming romance novel, with Evie being a very relatable and compelling lead. I did feel like this book had a lot going on at times, but it all came together so I can’t complain too much. Also who doesn’t want to escape to a quaint English village and run a bookshop.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ugh this question drives me crazy every week! I’m so bad at picking my next book because I’m such a mood reader. It really depends on how my last book left me feeling. I think I might pick up People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. It was my Book of the Month choice for April and I adored Beach Read by Emily Henry, so I can’t wait to pick this up.

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

Review: To Love & To Loathe by Martha Waters

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.

After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.”

REVIEW:

First off, I would like to thank NetGalley and Atria for the advanced reader copy. All thoughts are my own, and I was given this copy for an honest review.

I was sucked into To Love & To Loathe from the synopsis alone. I honestly love a book where two people don’t realize that they’ve been in love with each other for a while, and they are the last to figure it out. So I was very excited to get to read this early.

This was my first Martha Waters book actually, I haven’t read To Have & To Hoax (but now I might have to go back and do that). I really loved her writing style. This book is easy, breezy, and very binge-able. Jeremy and Diana are obviously the heart of this book and their banter and chemistry are incredible. I also loved the awareness of the misogynistic laws and the ridiculous patriarchal standards by the characters. This is often something that can be forgotten or swept aside in historical romances. This novel is also very sex-positive. Sure it is scandalous in society that Diana might take a lover, but none of her friends or acquaintances hold anything against her. Also, the bedroom conversations that Diana and Jeremy have about how important it is to listen to your partner were incredible and definitely unique to what I normally read.

I did have one big problem with this book, and that problem is a bit spoilery but I will try to be vague. One of the characters is revealed to be gay. When Diana has a conversation and this bit of information is revealed to her, the character asks for secrecy (understandably). Diana, in the next scene, tells her two friends and then later tells another person. She swears them to secrecy as well, but this is not Diana’s information to tell, even if this bit of information helps Diana come to terms with her feelings for Jeremy and thoughts on marrying again. This was one of my only problems with this book, but it did bring down my rating.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book and it definitely makes me interested in Martha Waters’s other novel. If you are looking for a well-written historical romance then you should definitely check out To Love & To Loathe.

RATING: 3/5

Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date (US): April 6th, 2021
Series: The Regency Vows #2
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 384
Genre: Historical Romance/Romantic Comedy

April Releases to Get Excited About

Somehow it is already almost April. March has flown by and I can’t believe it. Below you’ll find some of April’s book releases that I’m most excited. As always, these are books that I am super interested in or have been waiting on for the last couple of months. These just scratch the surface of everything coming out in April.

The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood & Ash #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout – April 20, 2021

Bow Before Your Queen Or Bleed Before Her…From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes book three in her Blood and Ash series.

I have been dying for this book since I finished A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire last fall. It left off on such a cliff-hanger and I’m just so excited to see where this series goes. This series made me a fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout and I highly recommend this series if you haven’t already checked it out.

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne – April 13, 2021

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women–under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.

I read the Hating Game by Sally Thorne last month and I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t put this book down, neglected errands that had to be done, because I just wanted to keep reading. So Sally Thorne has become a must check out author for me. The synopsis to this book sounds super charming and I’m so excited to read it.

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan – April 6, 2021

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

The Roommate by Rosie Danan was one of my favorite books I read last year. So naturally I’m very excited to read the follow up. Seriously, if you haven’t read The Roommate you need to add it to your TBR immediately. I’m excited to hear more about Naomi and her story. She was an interesting secondary character in The Roommate, so it will be nice to have her as the lead.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price – April 6, 2021

“Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit.

As I’ve talked about on this blog before, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book and Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. So naturally any time there is a spin on her stories or a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, I’m going to want to check it out. This one honestly sounds amazing! Pride and Prejudice with a whodunit added in, how can you not add this to your TBR?

Blessed Monsters (Something Dark & Holy #3) by Emily A. Duncan – April 6, 2021

The startling conclusion to the instant New York Times bestselling Something Dark and Holy trilogy.”

I was recently recommended this series, and I’ve been waiting to start it until after the third book is released. I don’t always do this with series unless I discover them close to them being finished. Since it only got recommended to me a little over a month ago, I figured I would wait it out. I’m very excited to start it and of course I’ll post all my thoughts here on this blog.

Let me know what April releases you are excited about, and if you are checking out any of these books too!

As always follow me on Instagram!

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 10, 2021

Happy Wednesday! We have a week of gorgeous weather here in Pennsylvania, so I am very excited!

Since its Wednesday, that means it is time for another 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 Instagram for more book adventures.

  • 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 Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule. It is a part of the High Republic series they just launched that spans book series and comic books. I was interested to check this out because I love Star Wars and was definitely excited to read a series that is so separated from the films. This book has been a little slow going, but I’m still interested in what it is setting up.

What did you recently finish?

I just finished up The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I completely loved this book! Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. The chemistry was off the charts and it was just such a fun and entertaining read. I thought I was going to be in a little bit of a reading slump after A Court of Silver Flames, but not when this was my next book choice.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think my next read will be Well Played by Jen DeLuca. I’ve been sitting on this book for awhile, but I’ve really been on a romance kick recently so I think this would be the perfect time. I read Well Met by Jen DeLuca early last year and loved it. Romance books always get me out of my reading funks, and I am currently in a bit of one.