Spotlight & Excerpt of Say Goodbye

Say Goodbye by Karen Rose

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Series: Book #3 in the Sacramento Series (part of the Romantic Suspense Series)

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

In this thrilling romantic thriller, FBI agent Tom Hunter must work with his best friend, ex-Army combat medic Liza to bring down the dangerous Eden cult. For years the cult has been wreaking havoc and now the Founding Elders are splintering. Tom is finally getting his chance with Liza, and he will go to all costs to keep her safe.


SYNOPSIS

Eden faces a final reckoning when the cult’s past victims hunt them down in this explosive, high-stakes thriller in the Sacramento series from New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose.

For decades, Eden has remained hidden in the remote wilds of the Pacific Northwest, “Pastor” keeping his cult’s followers in thrall for his personal profit and sexual pleasures. But the Founding Elders are splintering, and Pastor’s surrogate son DJ is scheming to make it all his own.

When two of Eden’s newest members send out a cry for help, it reaches FBI Special Agent Tom Hunter, whose friend and fellow FBI Special Agent Gideon Reynolds and his sister, Mercy, are themselves escapees of the Eden cult, targeted by the Founding Elders who want them silenced forever. The three have vowed to find the cult and bring it down, and now, they finally have a solid lead.

Neutralizing Eden’s threat will save captive members and ensure Tom’s new friends can live without fear. But when his best friend, ex-Army combat medic Liza Barkley, joins the case, it puts her life—and their blossoming love—in danger. With everything they hold dear in the balance, Tom and Liza, together with Gideon and Mercy, must end Eden once and for all.


EXCERPT

EDEN, CALIFORNIA

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 10:30 P.M.

ayley Gibbs winced as her belly scraped against the doorjamb lead‑ ing into the clinic. Dammit. She’d underestimated her current—

and increasing—size yet again. Damn pregnancy.

She gave her stomach a soothing pat. Not you, she silently told her unborn child. Her daughter. I’m not mad at you, Jellybean. Never you. She was mad, however, at her mother. She was beyond furious with the woman. And scared of her at the same time. The fury was nothing new. The fear . . . well, that was new. At least this kind of fear. It had always been the fear of not having enough to eat, or of where they’d live the next week, or what her mother would do if she learned that Hayley was having sex with her high school boyfriend Cameron, or

that her little brother Graham was shoplifting electronics.

Then she’d found out what her mother would do if she found out. Move us here. To this hellhole in the middle of fucking nowhere. From which Hayley was going to escape or die trying.

She just needed to get into the clinic’s office.

Drawing a breath, she eased her way through the clinic door and

quietly closed it behind her. She stood statue‑still, listening for the sound of anyone else. But it was silent.

Thank you, she mouthed, not sure whom she was thanking. Prob‑ ably not God, or not her mother’s God, at least. The God Hayley wanted to thank would help her keep her baby safe. The God she wanted to thank definitely wouldn’t approve of these . . . monsters.

Eden was full of monsters and her mother had dragged Hayley and her brother here, kicking and screaming.

Hayley rubbed her fingertips over the thick chain welded around her neck.

Welded. Around. My. Neck.

It wasn’t jewelry, despite the locket that dangled from it. It was a collar. It was ownership.

It was also empty, at the moment. The locket. But after the baby came, her locket would be filled with her wedding photo. She was technically married now—and had been since the day they’d arrived in this awful place. Luckily her “husband” didn’t want to “consum‑ mate” their union with another man’s bastard in her belly, so she hadn’t been forced into sex. Yet.

He didn’t want their wedding photo sullied with the evidence of her sin. He’d have the photo taken after the “bastard” was born. Which gave her a little more than six weeks.

Hayley’s gut churned at the thought of being the fourth wife Brother Joshua would have—at the same time. Polygamy abounded in Eden, and Hayley wanted no part of it.

She hadn’t wanted any of it. She just wanted to be with her boy‑ friend and live their lives the way they’d always planned since their first homecoming dance in the ninth grade.

No, this baby wasn’t what she and Cameron had planned, at least not now. They were only seventeen, after all. But Cam’s parents had stepped up and said that they could live with them once the baby came, that they could still go to college.

But her mother hadn’t agreed. The next thing Hayley had known, she and Graham had been forced into the back of some guy’s truck.

And now I’m here.

Here in Eden. Here in the clinic, closed at the moment. If she got caught . . . She shuddered at the very thought. But she had to try. She was more afraid to stay in Eden than she was of any punishment. And Pastor—the creepy leader of this creepy cult in the mountains—he terrified her. The people here obeyed him like robots.

She rubbed her stomach as it lurched again. Come on now. Don’t worry, Jellybean. I’ll get us out of here before you arrive. I promise.

So now she had to. She’d just promised her daughter.

Her daughter. She was going to have a daughter. She and Cameron had seen the baby on the ultrasound back at the ob‑gyn’s office in San Francisco, had heard her heartbeat. Cam had cried, his hand clutching hers as they’d stared at the small screen.

I love you, Cam, she whispered inside her own mind. I love you both. They hadn’t chosen a name yet, so they called her Jellybean for now. Her daughter didn’t even have a name, but Hayley would have given up everything to protect her. Which meant getting them out of this place, with its clinic that would have been considered medieval

even in Little House on the Prairie days.

She looked around the dark room, shrouded in shadow. There was no ultrasound here. No oxygen if the baby needed it. No painkillers. At all. Just a bed with stirrups and straps.

Hayley didn’t want to know what the straps were used for.

She did know that women died in childbirth here. She’d heard the whispers.

It would be God’s punishment for her sin, one woman had said.

She’s a whore, another had added.

And then one old crone had whispered words that had chilled her to the bone: Sister Rebecca will take the baby and raise it as her own.

Even if she lives? the first woman had asked.

Even if the whore lives, the crone had confirmed. God wouldn’t want any baby to be raised by that Jezebel.

Hayley cradled her stomach with both arms. No fucking way in hell. Even if Sister Rebecca had been a good person, which she was not. She was Brother Joshua’s “first” wife—the highest‑ranking of all the sister‑wives. Brother Joshua had a total of four wives and Hayley was at the bottom of the list, which meant she had to obey the other wives as well as her “husband.”

Hayley wanted to spit the word out of her mouth. He is not my husband.

He was a horrible person, snide and cruel. Unfortunately, Sister Rebecca was also a horrible person as well as being barren. That was the word the other women had used. Barren.

It was like living in a costume drama from the 1800s.

Sister Rebecca had three children, all taken from other women in the compound. Two of the women had apparently died in childbirth. The third had been birthed by an unwed mother. Like me. No one had mentioned what had happened to the unwed mother and Hayley won‑ dered who she was.

Nobody’s taking my daughter from me. Nobody. They’ll have to kill me first.

ARC Review – Isn’t it Bromantic?

Isn’t it Bromantic by Lyssa Kay Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Bromance Book Club #4

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: July 20, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.


REVIEW

Finally, finally we get the Russian’s aka Vlad’s story in Isn’t it Bromantic? 😍 Vlad has been a permanent part of the Bromance Book Club, but his friends don’t know much about his relationship with his wife Elena.

At point in their lives, Elena and Vlad were the best of friends. They grew up together and were literally neighbors. Elena was often at Vlad’s house – especially when her journalist father was off on a lead for a story. So when Vlad asked Elena to marry him so she could come to live with him in America after her father went missing, Elena agreed.

What started off as a marriage of convenience between two friends, slowly turned into the two of them hardly seeing one another. Elena went off to school and Vlad fulfilled his obligation to play professional hockey. But now Vlad wants more of his marriage, he wants a real marriage. Only Elena has had enough and is ready to return to Russia. Will Vlad find a way to woo back his wife like the heroes in the books he’s been reading?

I have been waiting for so long to finally get the Russian’s story and I am so glad that Vlad turned out to be this sweet cinnamon roll hero. I loved everything about Isn’t it Bromantic?. From the bros to the widows in Vlad’s neighborhood who call themselves the Loners to the romantic suspense story that Vlad is writing on the side (seriously sooo good). All of these aspects made up for the perfect romance. But most importantly I loved Vlad and Elena’s relationship.

Vlad and Elena haven’t had the easiest relationship and the longing and angst just had my heart swooning. When a book has be shedding tears within the first few chapters, I know that it’s one I will end up loving and that is so true with Isn’t it Bromantic?.

If you haven’t already picked up your copy – do it now! I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

July Reads

July was a great ARC heavy reading month for me. I ended up reading 9 books – which is a lot, considering it was a busy busy month! Favorites of the month included Isn’t it Bromantic? and Bombshell! I’m excited to see what great books August has in store!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

Isn’t it Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Out of the Blue by Kathryn Nolan

Love Next Door by Helena Hunting

The Devil and the Heiress by Harper St. George

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon

Rating: 3 out of 5.

When Stars Collide by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Viscount Made Me Do It by Diana Quincy

ARC Review – The Royals Next Door

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

An ordinary summer goes royally awry when a prince and princess move next door, bringing their handsome bodyguard with them, from New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle.

Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day–avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.

And she’s happy with how things are–really–until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she’s a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person’s fairy tale is an ordinary woman’s nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison’s no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who’s sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.

But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she’ll need more than Harrison’s strong arms to shield her–she’ll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they’re willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.


REVIEW

Piper lives a quiet life on a small island in the Pacific Northwest. She’s a school teacher by day and romance reader/podcaster on her off time. She also just happens to live with her mom who struggles with mental illness (bipolar disorder and dependent personality disorder). Piper is completely surprised when The Royals end up moving right next to her! Their bodyguard – Harrison Colt – isn’t exactly the friendliest person, but Piper can’t help but needling him. When they continually run into each other, their relationship starts to turn to more than just acquaintances. But will Piper be able to handle all the stress/media frenzy/constant being hounded by the media if she decides to take her relationship further with Harrison who is in essence linked to the royals?

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up The Royals Next Door, but it is definitely up there as one of my favorite reads this year. This book was funny, sweet, sexy and also so inspirational and swoony. I would be laughing out loud one moment and then falling so hard for Piper and Harrison.

I loved the slow burn between Piper and Harrison. There were more than a few moments where I was yelling at them to finally get together. But the slow burn totally paid off and Karina Halle definitely knows how to write her steamy scenes 🔥.

One aspect of The Royals Next Door that I absolutely loved was the mental health representation. I feel like there’s such a stigma still attached to mental illness and books like The Royals Next Door are slowly showing us the readers that you shouldn’t be ashamed of having a mental illness or seeing a therapist. In fact it should be talked about more often and not shunned as it so often is.

Add The Royals Next Door to your TBR and pre-order this book before it releases on August 31, 2021. I for one cannot wait to re-read this wonderfully romantic book.

p.s. Not only is Piper a romance podcaster but she’s also an unapologetic romance reader and I loved her even more for that!

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Time Travel/ F/F Romance

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and audiobook from LibroFM


SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks…

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.


REVIEW

Twenty-three year old August has just moved to New York City to go to college. She’s somehow able to secure a room in an apartment she’ll share with three other roommates and she got a job at the diner around the corner (thanks to her new roommates). And yet, she doesn’t feel like there’s a place for her…she often feels alone.

That is until one day she meets a girl on the subway. This girl is fun and bright and August can’t help but gravitate towards her. Every time August takes the Q train she manages to see Jane! Soon August is finding every reason to get on the train so she can see Jane. But what starts off as August meeting her dream girl, turns into a race in time to try to help Jane get back to the 1970’s. Turns out Jane is from the past and has been stuck on the Q train since the 1970’s. Will August be able to help Jane piece together her past so she can help her get back? And what about their budding relationship?

One Last Stop started off really strong for me. I loved getting to know August, her roommates and of course Jane. Their friendship was tentative and sweet and so swoony. But somewhere around the halfway mark, the book started to drag for me. I just felt like there was so much going on and the romance was always there, and yet also it took the back seat a lot.

I switched between listening to the audiobook and reading One Last Stop. The audiobook, narrated by Natalie Naudus was fantastic. Natalie did a wonderful job with the various characters and accents. And while I truly enjoyed the audiobook, the story itself wasn’t as enjoyable as I had hoped.

The writing by Casey McQuiston was beautiful as usual. Definitely add One Last Stop to your TBR if you are looking for a F/F romance with time travel aspects (think Loki) with sweet supporting characters to round out the story!

Spotlight & Excerpt of The Runaway Heiress

The Runaway Heiress by Meg Tilly

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

A brave woman on the run from her abusive violent husband lands herself a job as a personal assistant to a Hollywood director. Sarah is willing to change names, create a fake ID and land a job as a personal assistant to Hollywood director Mick Talford. Will that be enough to keep her estranged husband away? And when Mick decides to help Sarah – will they brave the danger together and come out stronger? Read on for an excerpt of this thrilling romance!


SYNOPSIS

A brave woman on the run from her vindictive husband faces a dangerous path in the thrilling new romantic suspense novel from Oscar-nominated actress Meg Tilly.

Sarah Rainsford has been on the run for more than three years. She’s changed identities yet again in hopes of throwing her violent estranged husband, a police lieutenant, off her trail. Since she’s still legally married to him, and he is willing to bend any laws to get his hands on her inheritance, he’ll stop at nothing to locate her.

With a new name and fake ID papers, she lands a job as a personal assistant to none other than Hollywood’s golden boy director Mick Talford. He’s a difficult client but she senses hidden depths to him. Once Mick and Sarah combine forces in a desperate attempt to keep Sarah out of harm’s way, they build a strong bond . . . but with danger trailing them, is it enough to keep them both alive?


EXCERPT

“Rachel . . .” The woman at the employment agency glanced down at the form on her clipboard. 

“Jones?”

Sarah got to her feet. “Yes,” she said. “That would be me.”

“I’m Ellen Davis. This way, please.”

Sarah followed the woman into her office, mouth dry.

Ms. Davis flipped to the next page on her clipboard. Sarah could see over her shoulder that the woman was now reading the fake CV and reference letters Sarah had typed and printed at the public library that morning.

“Have a seat.” Ms. Davis gestured to a chair in front of her desk as she rounded it and sat down.

As Sarah sat, she surreptitiously slid her palms down along her thighs so the black dress pants could erase the slight dampness before clasping her hands in her lap.

The woman flipped to the last page, scanned it, then placed the clipboard on the desk in front of her. “Everything seems in order,” she said. “Your scores on the technical skills test were quite impressive. I don’t foresee a problem getting you placed. What sort of hours are you interested in working?”

“I’m pretty flexible. And it doesn’t have to be office work. Basically, I’ll take whatever job you have available.”

“Nights? Weekends? Long hours okay?”

“Sure.”

“Huh . . . Interesting. Actually-” Ms. Davis’s fingers rapped a quick staccato on the desk as if she were playing descending scales on the piano.

“But I’m not interested in stripping or escort work or anything like that,” Sarah hastily added. 

This was Hollywood after all. Best to make sure the woman hadn’t gotten the wrong idea.

Ms. Davis didn’t look up, her fingers flying over her keyboard. “Of course. Not to worry. We don’t handle that kind of ‘work placement.'” Then she swiveled slightly in her chair, eyes narrowing as she leaned forward, focused on her computer screen. “Ah! Here we go.” A huff of air that could have been laughter escaped her lips. “Well . . . it’s worth a try,” she murmured. 

“Lord knows, he’s burned his way through all my other options.” Her birdlike gaze moved away from the screen to settle on Sarah’s face, taking in the dark-rimmed glasses. Luckily, the woman’s perusal didn’t linger on the mousy brown hair Sarah had re-dyed in the bathroom sink of the motel room last night.

Sarah looked back, keeping her expression a blank, calm canvas, a polite smile on her face, determined not to let her nerves peek through.

“Plain. Practical. No-nonsense. Might be just what the doctor ordered.” Ms. Davis nodded as her gaze traveled down the conservative cream blouse Sarah had steamed in the shower. She took in the black slacks, the sensible black pumps; then her gaze slid back up to Sarah’s face. “This position requires gumption, backbone, plenty of grit. No running for the hills just because the client has a few rough edges.”

“No, ma’am.” Sarah forced her hands to lie still in her lap. “I understand.”

The woman’s fingers rapped on the desk again. “Most of the specifications fit.” Her unblinking eyes narrowed to a laser-like focus. Suddenly she shrugged and then relaxed in her chair. “The job pays twenty-four dollars an hour. It’s live-in. Is that a problem?”

A problem? A heaven-sent gift from God was more like it. Sarah’s mind flashed to handing over her last hundred-dollar bill to pay for the motel last night. The eleven o’clock checkout meant returning to the motel after her visit to the library and packing all her belongings in the trunk of her car. She would have preferred for Charlie to have the run of the motel room, as he was not a fan of car travel. It wasn’t ideal, but she’d had to leave him in the car with the windows cracked open during this interview, yowling in his carrier bag as if he were being murdered. Didn’t have enough to cover another night, $56.95 to her name. “Live-in is fine. Preferable, actually.”

“Wonderful. When can you start?”

Sarah released the breath she’d been holding. “Whenever,” she said, as if she wasn’t in dire financial straits and planning on sleeping in her car tonight. “I could start today if you like?”

“Even better.” Ms. Davis scribbled something on a slip of paper. “Here’s the name and address. Mick Talford. Hopefully, Rachel, you’ll last longer than the previous assistants I’ve sent.”

Rachel? For a split second Sarah’s mind blanked. Oh yes! Rachel.

“I’ll do my best.” Sarah smiled in a reassuring manner even though her heart had skipped a beat.

Ms. Davis stood, rounded the desk, and handed the paper to Sarah. “The client is a talented director. Good luck,” she said, shaking Sarah’s hand. “You’ll need it.”

Bombshell ARC Review

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Hell’s Belles

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: August 24, 2021

Publisher: Avon

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with a blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series, Hell’s Belles, beginning with a bold, bombshell of a heroine, able to dispose of a scoundrel—or seduce one—in a single night.

After years of living as London’s brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom…and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.

No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not to notice his best friend’s beautiful, brash, brilliant sister. If you ask him, he’s been a saint about it, considering the way she looks at him…and the way she talks to him…and the way she’d felt in his arms during their one ill-advised kiss.

Except someone has to keep Sesily from tumbling into trouble during her dangerous late-night escapades, and maybe close proximity is exactly what Caleb needs to get this infuriating, outrageous woman out of his system. But now Caleb is the one in trouble, because he’s fast realizing that Sesily isn’t for forgetting…she’s forever. And forever isn’t something he can risk.


REVIEW

I have been waiting for Sesily and Caleb’s story for a very very long time and it did not disappoint! These two were always quarreling with each other and I loved their banter. Their quips and humor did not disappoint in Bombshell – the newest book in a new series by Sarah MacLean.

Sesily Talbot also known as “Sexily” has embraced her reputation. She is one of five sisters and they’ve never had it easy in society. Sesily and her gang of fierce and ruthless girl friends have decided to take on the worst men of London aristocracy. Those who deserve a lashing and worse are the ones that they are after. When one of these escapades almost goes south it’s Caleb Calhoun, the American that comes to Sesily’s rescue.

Caleb can’t seem to stay away from Sesily no matter how hard he tries. He’s hiding his own secrets and it’s best if he doesn’t become entangled with Sesily. But everywhere he turns, she’s there. Taunting him with her warmth and light. Will Caleb be strong enough to stay away from Sesily…or rather will Sesily let him stay away?

Oh, how I loved these two. Already I was anticipating their story and once I started reading Bombshell I could not put it down. It was funny, so swoony and the suspense had me hooked in! I love not only the romance, but also the colorful characters that we are introduced to.

As always, Sarah MacLean had the perfect amount of angst, romance and humor balanced out in Bombshell. While sometimes the first book in a series can have a lot of word building or seem tedious, I never felt that way with Bombshell. I already need every single one of the Hell’s Belles stories – a few who I’ve maybe guessed already!

Definitely add Bombshell to your TBR and grab it when it releases August 24, 2021!

Battle Royal ARC Review

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Palace Insiders #1

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: August 17, 2021

Publisher: Avon

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits.

Ready…

Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.

Set…

Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.

Match…

When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.

The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.

In this royal battle, can there be room for two?


REVIEW

Baker Sylvie Fairchild thoroughly enjoyed her time on Operation Cake four years ago as a contestant. She’s elated that the producers have asked her on as a judge. It will provide great coverage for her shop Sugar Fair! The only downside of accepting the gig – she has to work with Dominic De Vere. The same judge that booted Sylvie off the show (okay, yeah maybe her unicorn malfunction that earned him a hoof and glitter in the face wasn’t the best for live TV).

Dominic is stern, but fair. He’s not the biggest fan of Sylvie especially after that glitter unicorn fiasco. Dominic and Sylvie also just happen to have neighboring bakeries as well. When Sylvie and Dominic end up vying for the top position to bake a cake for the royal wedding of Princess Rose – who will the Princess end up choosing? Will Sylvie and Dominic continue to stay rivals or will working in such close proximity have them seeing each other in a different light?

I absolutely loved Battle Royal. Not only does it have two of my favorite tropes – enemies to lovers and forced proximity, but the chemistry between Dominic and Sylvie was always sparking. Yeah, sure they disliked each other, but they also have a deep sense of respect for each others work.

The level of vulnerability each character in the story showed added a lot of depth to this amazing romance. Not only from Dominic and Sylvie, but also Dominic’s sister Pet as well as the royal couple Princess Rose and Johnny. Sometimes when there are a lot of side characters in a book I feel like it takes away from the romance. That was not the case in Battle Royal. Each and every single character in this book had an important part and they all added to overall story.

Battle Royal was so swoony and I’ve highlighted so many parts that I can’t wait to go back and revisit. Definitely add this book to your TBR and pre-order for when it releases in August! Battle Royal is one of my favorite books of the year!

I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in the series!!!

ARC Review – Love Next Door

Love Next Door by Helena Hunting

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Series: Lakeside #1

Release Date: July 27, 2021

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

When Dillion Stitch left her hometown, she had no intention of going back. But when her brother gets into trouble, Dillion reluctantly agrees to return home to take her place at the family business.

Being back in Pearl Lake after all these years feels familiar, but also brings a few surprises. She’s quick to notice that someone new has shown up at the cottage next door. Dillion gets more than an eyeful when she goes to check out the newcomer and meets Donovan “Van” Firestone—her beloved neighbor’s grandson—in all his unclothed glory.

Having gotten off to a rocky start, it’s not long before they begin bickering with each other all over town. All that back and forth inevitably sparks an undeniable attraction. But Dillion’s family has issues, Van’s family resents him, and neither Dillion nor Van feels truly at ease in the small town. For these Pearl Lake exiles, home isn’t just where the heart is—it’s where things get complicated.


REVIEW

Dillion Stitch is back in Pearl Lake. Not really where she’d like to be, but after a series of circumstances all happen at once, she’s needed back home to help her family with their business. Dillion couldn’t wait to get out of the small town life and severed a lot of connections on her way out of Pearl Lake. Will she be able to handle small town life again where everyone is up in each other’s business?

Donovan Firestone has his own reasons for escaping to Pearl Lake. At first he was only coming to manage his grandmother’s estate. But soon he’s planning on staying a while. He doesn’t realize that Dillion and his grandma were close and that she has been keeping up with the estate when his beloved grandmother passed. These two don’t exactly hit it off, but soon they’re in each others spaces more and more often. Will they eventually act on their passion?

I really enjoyed Love Next Door. Having grown up in a small town myself, I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to leave. I didn’t end up going very far and still visit often and am so grateful for small town living! I also really related to Dillion as being the eldest sibling and really having to take charge of situations sometimes. Family life can be hectic and lovely at the same time and I love how Helena showcased those circumstances.

Van and Dillion had such great chemistry and I loved their sparks right from the beginning. Yes they both make mistakes, but their open and honest communication really added to their relationship. They truly were there for one another and I adored them.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series – hopefully it’s Teagan’s story.

ARC Review – When Stars Collide

When Stars Collide by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction

Heat Rating: 🔥

Series: Chicago Stars #9

Release Date: June 29, 2021

I received a complimentary copy and of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

Olivia Shore, international opera superstar, is a driven diva with a passion for perfection, a craving for justice, too many secrets—and a monumental grudge against the egotistical, lowbrow jock she’s been stuck with.

It’s Mozart meets Monday Night Football as the temperamental soprano and stubborn jock embark on a nationwide tour promoting a luxury watch brand. Along the way, the combatants will engage in soul-searching and trash talk, backstage drama and, for sure, a quarterback pass. But they’ll also face trouble as threatening letters, haunting photographs, and a series of dangerous encounters complicate their lives. Is it the work of an overzealous fan or something more sinister?

This is the emotional journey of a brilliant woman whose career is everything and a talented man who’ll never be happy with second place.  Tender and funny, passionate and insightful, this irresistible romantic adventure proves that anything can happen…when two superstars collide.


REVIEW

What happens when two stars from opposite spectrums collide? Renowned opera singer Olivia and NFL football quarterback Thad are both brand ambassadors for an upscale watch. Immediately they start off on the wrong foot. Olivia doesn’t want anything to do with jock Thad. Thad thinks Olivia is an uptight diva after she repeatedly freezes him out.

But the more time Thad and Olivia spend with one another, the more they realize how much they like each other. But soon enough Olivia’s life is being threatened and protective quarterback Thad will go to any length to keep Olivia safe. How long can these two before their passion ignites. And once that happens, how can they realistically make a relationship work between the two of them? They are both career driven and independent personalities.

I have read each and every single one of the Chicago Stars books and love the world that SEP has created! It was so much fun revisiting with some of the characters that we loved in previous books. I do feel like I had a harder time connecting with Thad and Olivia as a couple in When Stars Collide. There was often so much other stuff happening in the story and I wanted just a little more of their romance.

Audiobook:
Story: 3
Narration: 4
Overall: 3

The audiobook of When Stars Collide was narrated by Nicole Poole and I truly enjoyed the audiobook! I was laughing along Olivia and Thad while listening to Nicole narrate both of their voices. She did a wonderful job expressing each characters feeling and I won’t hesitate to pick up another audiobook narrated by Nicole!

While not my favorite book out of the series, When Stars Collide had a ton of fun and hilarious moments thrown in with some mystery and suspense to round it out!