ARC Review – Love in the Time of Serial Killers

Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.


REVIEW

Phoebe Walsh finds herself coming back to her home in Florida after her fathers sudden passing. Phoebe isn’t thrilled to be back in her childhood home. She doesn’t have very fond memories of her father and wants nothing more than to work with her younger brother to get the house cleaned up and on the market so she can head back to North Carolina.

Phoebe is quickly acquainted with her neighbor when she moves in for the summer and she isn’t quite convinced that he’s the nice guy everyone assumes he is. Okay, that maybe because Phoebe is writing her dissertation in true crime but something is definitely off with her neighbor. But the more time Sam and Phoebe start spending together (they are neighbors after all), the more Phoebe realizes how much she might start to like him. How will a relationship between them work if she has to leave at the end of the summer?

Love in the Time of Serial Killers was nothing like I imagined it to be, and yet it surprised me in the best way. I loved Phoebe and how sure of herself she was, even though coming back to her childhood home brought about vulnerabilities that Phoebe tried to bury. There was so much hurt that Phoebe had buried and bringing it to the surface was a large part of Love in the Time of Serial Killers. I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.

The chemistry between Sam and Phoebe was evident from their very first interaction. Their relationship was tentative and sweet. Yes, it was filled with a few incorrect assumptions and possible serial killer motives – but I loved these two together. They were sweet and kind and so gentle with one another.

I truly enjoyed Love in the Time of Serial Killers. The secondary characters (including the cat), the thread of grief throughout the book and the sweet romance all made for a wonderful romance. Overall, I would give this book 4.5 stars and highly recommend it!

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ARC Review – Scandalized

Scandalized by Ivy Owens

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Gallery

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


SYNOPSIS

A one-night stand between two old childhood friends turns into something more, but when a scandal threatens to tear them apart, they must decide how hard to fight for love—a steamy romance debut perfect for fans of Tessa Bailey and Kennedy Ryan​.

Exhausted and on deadline with a story that could make or break her career, investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on the verge of a meltdown when a cancelled flight leaves her stuck in the airport overnight. But when a familiar face appears—the older brother of her childhood friend—and offers help, Gigi seems to have caught a break.

Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind—exactly the sort of man that Gigi has forgotten existed after her own painful heartbreaks. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason he seems so familiar to her.

Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal. 

REVIEW

Georgia, better known as Gigi, is exhausted and tired after a delay in her flight from London to LA. Gigi was in London investigating a possible story that could make headlines. She wants nothing more than to get all the words floating around in her head down and move forward with her story. But the universe has other plans and Gigi is now stuck in London for a little while longer. Here’s where she runs into a friend. Alec Kim was Gigi’s best friends older brother growing up. Now he’s all grown up and even more handsome than before.

Gigi and Alec reconnect over drinks and great conversation. They soon move their night to the bedroom and decide to act on their actions – both deciding on a no strings attached one night stand. But all isn’t as it seems to be. Alec turns out to be a famous actor and keeps his life as private as possible. Soon Alec and Gigi are caught up in a scandal much larger than either of them thought. Will they keep their relationship surface level, while they both get more involved in the case and each other?

Scandalized was such a fun and fast paced read. I loved the way that Gigi and Alec reconnected. They had such a shared history even though they hadn’t seen each other in years. Ivy Owens can bring the heat and the chemistry between Gigi and Alec was explosive! One night stands and insta-love can be hit and miss for me. But it worked in this case, more so because Gigi and Alec shared a past and I loved their fond feelings for one another when they were younger.

The suspense plot of the book was fast paced and kept me on my toes. And while parts of the book could be quite heavy at times, I feel like the storyline was done well and still moved along quickly.

Overall, I really enjoyed Scandalized and am looking forward to reading more from Ivy Owens!

CW: sexual assault (off page)

ARC Review – In a New York Minute

In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: March 15, 2022

Publisher: Forever

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


SYNOPSIS

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

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

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

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


REVIEW

Franny is having a total crapshoot of a day. She thinks she’s getting a promotion, but actually gets let go. And if that isn’t bad enough – her favorite dress rips right down her back on the subway. But as luck has it a kind stranger offers his jacket. The two have a connection, but think they’ll never see each other again. Except…as fate would have it – they’re an internet sensation and go viral on Instagram! When they finally meet – will that chemistry still be present or are they better off as strangers?

The meet cute in In A New York Minute was so cute! I was immediately sucked into the storyline between Hayes and Franny. These two were so opposite, and yet they hit it off in a busy subway in New York. The lead up to them finally meeting again was so much fun. I loved the friendship between Franny, Cleo and Lola! Their text messages, impromptu meetings and how they were always there for one another was such a wonderful part of the book.

I do feel like the second half of the book was a little bit slower moving than the first half. I did enjoy the slow progression of friends to lovers between Franny and Hayes. Their friendship felt true and the way they showed little bits and pieces of themselves to one another was so charming.

If you’re looking for a sweet romance with a group of friends at its core – grab your copy of In A New York Minute when it releases!

ARC Review – Count Your Lucky Stars

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sapphic Romance

Series: Written in the Stars #3

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: February 1, 2022

Publisher: Avon

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


SYNOPSIS

Following Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon, national bestselling author Alexandria Bellefleur pens another steamy queer rom-com about former best friends who might be each other’s second chance at love…

Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love?


REVIEW

Margot is happy and content with the way things are. But things are changing and changing rapidly in Margot’s happy circle of friends. Where once there was game nights and casual hangouts, now it’s turned into a couples thing and Margot is feeling like the fifth wheel.

Doesn’t help that THE blast from the past shows up as you guess it…her best friends wedding planner. Olivia is the one, the one that got away that Margot still thinks about. They were best friends and were always together. Until one sweet hook up turned them from friends to lovers briefly and then to merely acquaintances. Because of their one time hookup and the miscommunication after, they haven’t seen each other in over a decade. Olivia got married to her high school sweetheart, but she is divorced now and on her own. Margot and Olivia find each other working closer together than ever before – will be they able to mend their friendship and possibly turn it into something more?

I loved Olivia in the previous books of the Written in the Stars series. She is such a fun and outgoing person and I love her personality. I was so excited for her to get her own story in Count Your Lucky Stars. What happened to make these two best friends who were inseparable suddenly without their best friend. The journey of why these two lost touch was so bittersweet.

I really enjoyed the premise of this book. Second chance romance is such a favorite trope of mine and I love the angst and tension that it brings. However, I do feel like I wasn’t fully invested in these two characters as a couple. I wanted to feel more for why they were separated and sadly I didn’t get that in Count Your Lucky Stars. I understand that Margot as a character was going through a lot of changes with it feeling like losing her friends because they were all in relationships, but she seemed very insecure and that’s not the vibe I got from her in the first two books.

I had the opportunity to listen to an audiobook of Count Your Lucky Stars which was narrated by Lauren Sweet. I felt like Lauren did an absolute tremendous job narrating the voices for both Olivia and Margot. I was laughing out loud at a lot of the dialogue in the book and definitely made me enjoy the book!

Overall, I really enjoyed the Written in the Stars series! While I didn’t really click with the characters of Count Your Lucky Stars, so many friends really loved this book.

ARC Review – Peanut by Lucy Watson

Peanut by Lucy Watson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: March 25, 2022

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


SYNOPSIS

A slow-burn friends-to-lovers standalone featuring Nick from Shortcake.

Note to self:

Next time your life falls apart, don’t hobble your broken ass back to your hometown to hide out. You think it will buy you time to glue yourself back together, but it won’t.

Why not?

Nicolas freaking MacGregor.

You remember him, right? Your stepbrother’s best friend. The boy you shared secrets with and maybe-loved once. The boy you asked to be your first kiss.

The one who shattered your glass heart into a million pieces.

Well, that Nick rents your grandpa’s guest house now. And yep, he still has boundary issues.

FYI, the lanky skater boy with a sweet smile and crooked glasses has turned into a tattooed Viking with a devilish grin and a body of lean-muscled perfection you will not think about. Ever.

You’re wiser now, Riley, so I know you won’t fall for him again. Right?

PS: When he smiles and his cheek creases in that near-dimple way, run.

Trigger Warnings: childhood abuse (not shown); mentions of weight (no sizes or scale numbers); discussions of mental health, including PTSD and anxiety; cheating ex (not shown); violence (in flashback); body shaming (by parent); cursing and vulgar language; explicit sexual content.


REVIEW

I just finished binge reading Peanut and this book…this book took my whole heart and ripped it apart and then put it back together again. Seriously I was sobbing into my pillow while staying up way too late reading this amazing book. I knew after reading and loving Shortcake that I needed the next book in the series ASAP and Lucy did not disappoint!

Peanut follows the story of Riley and Nick. These two group up together and shared their deepest darkest secrets with one another…until they didn’t anymore. Riley up and left to LA to pursue a dancing career and Nick stayed back to become a prolific tattoo artist. Riley is back after being gone for over a decade. Broke and needing a place to stay she ends up crashing at her grandfather’s house only to find out that her neighbor is – yep you guessed it – Nick. Will these two pick up their easy friendship? Even though Riley has always longed for more than that from Nick and he’s always shot her down.

I honestly cannot put into words how much I loved this book. I binge read it and every time I would look down to see what percentage I was at I wished there was more to this book. More Nick and Riley. More of the crew together again. More angst and swooniness and lovely lovely words written by the talented Lucy Watson.

At times, Peanut was not an easy read. But the writing was always beautiful and really tugged at my heartstrings. The love that Riley and Nick had for one another was so damn sweet and I was rooting for these two to get together right from the beginning. Their journey was filled with so much emotion.

Not only did I love Riley and Nick’s journey, but every single secondary character had an important part of the story. Nick’s co-workers and friends at the tattoo parlor were so much fun! When they were on the page I was guaranteed to be laughing. It was also a treat to see Nick’s friends from Shortcake including a few scenes featuring Ben & Emelia who I loved!

If you love a swoony, angsty, second chance, slow burn romance I would highly recommend you pre-order Peanut!

CW(from Lucy herself): childhood abuse (not shown); mentions of weight (no sizes or scale numbers); discussions of mental health, including PTSD and anxiety; cheating ex (not shown); violence (in flashback); body shaming (by parent); cursing and vulgar language; explicit sexual content

Hook, Line, and Sinker ARC Review

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Bellinger Sisters #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher: Avon

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


SYNOPSIS

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…


REVIEW

Hannah and Fox have a friendship. A completely platonic friendship. They text almost daily and haven’t seen each other in a few months. They met when Hannah and her sister relocated to a small crab fishing town in the PNW for the summer. Hannah works as a production assistant on a movie set and gives the director – who she has a deep crush on – the idea to move the location to Westport. The director runs with the idea, but why is Hannah all of a sudden nervous to see Fox again.

Fox was a goner for Hannah the moment they set eyes on each other last summer. So when he finds that she’s coming to Westport and will most likely be staying in his guest bedroom – he’s excited. The bond that Hannah and Fox share is special to him. And he wouldn’t do anything to mess that up. So what if half the town thinks that he’s a manwhore, as long as Hannah believes in him – it’ll be okay. But the closer these two are in each other’s presence the more they want things that might end up hurting their friendship. Are they willing to take that chance?

Oh, how I loved Fox and Hannah. From the very first pages with their sweet back and forth text messages I was a goner. Their friendship was so sweet and vulnerable and I loved how they slowly – oh so slowly – became more than just friends. The relationship was never one sided and the way they balanced each other out was always perfect.

I felt Hannah and Fox’s insecurities. Imposter syndrome is real and most of us feel it on a day to day basis. But the support that they both got from their friends, family and most importantly from each other made them stronger and I loved the journey both of them took to get there.

Hook, Line, and Sinker is definitely one of my favorite Tessa Bailey romances. I feel like she does friends-to-lovers so well. So if you’re looking for a book that will put a silly grin on your face, make you feel some angst and have you swooning – definitely pre-order Hook, Line, and Sinker!

Every Summer After ARC Review

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: May 10, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Romance

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


SYNOPSIS

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.


REVIEW

Percy meets Sam one summer when her family buys a cottage on the lake for a summer home. Percy and Sam immediately form a bond – both just starting their teen years. They form a sweet friendship and become inseparable by the end of that first summer and every summer after. Until one summer twelve years ago when Percy and Sam suddenly stop talking. What happened that summer and why haven’t they kept in touch? Percy is now headed back to Barry’s Bay for Sam’s mothers funeral. Will Sam and Percy move on from whatever tore them apart 12 years ago?

As soon as I started reading Every Summer After I immediately fell in love with both Sam and Percy. Their friendship was so sweet and pure when they first met. I loved watching them grow together through flashbacks as well as how rocky their relationship is in the present. What happened, why did they drift apart?? These are the questions I needed answers to even though I knew they’d break my heart.

Carley Fortune’s writing is so beautiful. I couldn’t stop reading and felt like I was right there with Percy and Sam every summer on the lake. I enjoyed every single secondary character in Every Summer After and each of them was essential to the story.

Every Summer After was heartbreakingly beautiful. This book was extremely hard to read at times and my heart broke on more than one occasion. Overall I would give Every Summer After 4.5 stars!

CW: cheating, death of a parent, bullying, panic attacks/anxiety.


Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize the purchase.

The Fastest Way to Fall ARC Review

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

Britta didn’t plan on falling for her personal trainer, and Wes didn’t plan on Britta. Plans change and it’s unclear if love, career, or both will meet them at the finish line.

Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it’s a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.

As CEO of the FitMe app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.

As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.

Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.


REVIEW

Britta, a journalist for a lifestyle website is tasked with showing readers her experience with a body-positive fitness app. Britta wants to be more than an assistant at her company and this is the opportunity for Britta to shine.

Britta is paired with Wes – owner and coach of the fitness app that Britta is using. Their back and forth banter soon has them thinking more about one another. When an opportunity arises for Wes and Britta to finally meet in person, they realize that the sparks they have for one another might be worth acting on. But what about their professions? Are they willing to risk it all for one another?

I have to preface this review by saying that over the past year, my journey has been very similar to Britta’s. I found myself making lifestyle changes that at first started similar to Britta’s. Yes mine were more health related and weight loss was a part of my goal, but it wasn’t the end of my goal. I had to figure out how to incorporate this healthy lifestyle into my daily routine. Much like Britta does with running and strength training – it was a process. And unlike Britta, I didn’t have an amazing coach urging me on. So gosh, I wish I had this book a year ago when I was feeling not so good and scared and a bit lonely if I’m being honest. This book is not only an amazing romance, but also shows how it can be so uplifting if we have someone in our corner. Fighting for us. Telling us we can do it – just one more mile or a few minutes more.

Britta and Wes were so cute together in The Fastest Way to Fall. I loved their witty dialogue, their chemistry and the back and forth banter they always had with one another. Their story flowed so effortlessly. I will say that some of the side characters/names of the businesses did get lost a little (I had to go back and see who was who and where they were working), but overall I really enjoyed this romance with a side of body positivity!

Denise Williams is an amazing author and I always find myself flying through her books. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

ARC Review The Wedding Ringer

The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥 Closed Door

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

A woman who wants nothing to do with love or friendship finds both in the unlikeliest ways in this hilarious and heartwarming debut by Kerry Rea.

Once upon a time, Willa Callister was a successful blogger with a good credit score, actual hobbies, and legs that she shaved more than once a month. But after finding her fiancé in bed with her best friend, she now spends her days performing at children’s birthday parties in a ball gown that makes her look like a walking bottle of Pepto Bismol. Willa dreams of starting fresh, where no one knows who she used to be, but first she needs to save up enough money to make it happen.

Maisie Mitchell needs something too: another bridesmaid for her wedding. After a chance encounter at a coffee shop, Maisie offers to pay Willa to be in her bridal party. Willa wants nothing to do with weddings–or Maisie–but the money will give her the freedom to start the new life she so badly desires.

Willa’s bridesmaid duties thrust her into Maisie’s high-energy world and into the path of hotshot doctor Liam Rafferty. But as Willa and Maisie form a real friendship, and Liam’s annoyingly irresistible smile makes her reconsider her mantra that all men are trash, Willa’s exit strategy becomes way more complicated. And when a secret from Maisie’s past threatens to derail the wedding, Willa must consider whether friendship–and romance–are worth sticking around for.


REVIEW

At one time socialite and social media darling Willa Callister had it all. A thriving career, blog & Instagram followers, a fiancé, a best friend who she shared everything with – a seemingly perfect life. Until one day Willa walked in on her fiancé and best friend in bed together. Now her life is nothing like it was before The Incident. Willa finds herself living with her sister and her family while she decides how to move forward with her life. When a chance encounter with a woman at a coffee shop has the potential to turn Willa’s life around – will she take the opportunity to let herself feel again? Or is she bound to harden to heart so that it never gets broken again?

I cannot put into words how much I adored this wonderful book. The Wedding Ringer took me by surprise, but in the best way. Right from the beginning the writing captivated me and had me laughing out loud and at the same time feeling the hurt and anguish that Willa goes through when she sees her ex best friend at a birthday party. The way Kerry Rea brings all of these emotions out and lets us feel them alongside Willa is amazing.

Friendship is such a key component in The Wedding Ringer. Friendships can be amazing; they can lift us up when we’re feeling down, help us with a should to lean on when we need it the most or just be there when we want to vent. But Willa has lost that with her best friend and the loss is profound. So I can see why Willa has such a hard time opening up to friendships especially with a whirlwind like Maise. Maise is the ray of sunshine that Willa didn’t even know she was missing in her life. I loved their friendship so much and how they were truly there for each other when they didn’t think they could rely on anyone else.

While the friendships were front and center in The Wedding Ringer, I loved the romance between Willa and dark and sexy Liam. The banter, the playfulness – gah! They were so damn cute together and I loved the way they slowly came around to one another.

I highly recommend The Wedding Ringer! This is Kerry Rea’s debut and I can’t wait to read more of her books!

CW: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Cheating (off page/not MC)

ARC Review Duke, Actually

Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: November 16, 2021

Publisher: Avon

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


SYNOPSIS

USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday follows A Princess for Christmas with another delightful contemporary Christmas romance between a playboy baron and a woman who has said goodbye to love.

Maximillian von Hansburg, Baron of Laudon and heir to the Duke of Aquilla, is trapped. Under pressure from his domineering father, he must marry a suitable bride before he inherits a title that feels like a prison sentence. In New York to meet a prospective wife, he ditches his responsibilities and appears on Dani Martinez’s doorstep. He’s been intrigued by the no-nonsense professor since he met her at the Eldovian royal wedding and is determined to befriend her.

Newly single Dani is done with love—she even has a list entitled “Things I Will Never Again Do for a Man”—which is why she hits it off with notorious rake Max. He’s trying to escape relationships, and she’s resolved to avoid them at all costs. All they want from each other is friendship and a distraction from their messy lives.

As their bond begins to deepen, so does their attraction, until they end up in bed together. Falling in love was never part of the plan—Max’s family doesn’t see Dani as a perfect match, even as his heart tells him she’s the one, and Dani isn’t sure she can make it in Max’s world. Can they find the courage to live they life they desire, even if it means risking everything?


REVIEW

After Dani’s husband leaves her for a younger woman, Dani finds herself newly single. She’s finally able to do the things that she wasn’t able to when she was married – including spending more time with her family. Dani doesn’t want to find herself in a relationship anytime soon and nothing can change that.

Maximillian von Hansburg is known as a ladies man. On the surface, Max is carefree and nothing fazes him. But Max is feeling the pressure from his parents. They want Max to find a suitable wife before he inherits the title of Duke. Max had a perfect thing going with his best friend Marie, but she ended up finding her one true love (in A Princess for Christmas) and now he’s back to square one.

When Max finds himself in New York and calls on Dani – a tender friendship forms. Max and Dani already know of each other as both of their best friends are going to marry each other. But Max insists on befriending Dani. Dani isn’t quite so sure about the Depraved Duke, but soon finds herself actually liking him. Can they keep their relationship strictly platonic? Or will sparks fly?

I read A Princess for Christmas last year and remember really enjoying Max’s character. But I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in Duke, Actually. Well, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I absolutely loved this book. I loved the slow progression of friends-to-lovers between Max and Dani. Duke, Actually had the slowest of slow burns, but I never felt like the relationship was going too slow.

Both Max and Dani were so sweet with one another and yet I found myself grinning or laughing at their antics. Their relationship felt so real and that made me love this couple even more because of that. They had their own insecurities and vulnerabilities, and yet they completely understood each other and were always there for each other – no matter what.

I had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook of Duke, Actually and really enjoyed it. The audiobook was narrated by Stacy Gonzalez and I felt like she did a great job. The narration took me a bit to get into, but once I started really getting into the story – I ended up really enjoying all of the voices Stacy narrated. I could always tell when a character was upset or happy. I was constantly grinning when Dani and Max were texting and felt all of the burden Max was shouldering when he was interacting with his parents. Overall, I feel like Stacy Gonzalez did a wonderful job narrating Duke, Actually and highly recommend the audiobook!

If you’re looking for a sweet, tender, friends-to-lovers romance with Christmas-y vibes, grab your copy of Duke, Actually!

CW: Parental neglect/abuse

**Although Duke, Actually can be read as a standalone, I think there’s a lot of backstory on Max and Dani from A Princess for Christmas and would recommend reading the books in order.