ARC Review – The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know by Elizabeth O’Roark

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Devil #3

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: June 23, 2022

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Valentine PR


SYNOPSIS

There’s a devil on my shoulder, and every Monday morning she announces herself. She’s this delicious flame in my chest, a flurry of whispered suggestions in my ear. Suggestions I ignore…because every single one of them is about Ben Tate.

Ben—Stealer of Clients, Evicter of Homeless Women, Nemesis. Sitting across from me every damn Monday with his lovely, smug smile and his too-perfect teeth, the living symbol of everything I hate.

It’s been my policy to avoid him, but when a case comes into the firm—one that could change his career and mine—I make an exception. It means weekends and evenings by his side. It means enduring his smirk and his smart mouth and never taking the bait.

Until the night Ben says, “Beg.”
And that devil on my shoulder decides to make a few demands of her own.


REVIEW

Gemma is one one singular goal – to make partner in her firm. She’s sick of the all boys club and is willing to put in her time until she makes partner. Except this time she has to put in time with the one partner that annoys her the most – Ben Tate. Ben the person who stole her client as soon as he came on with the firm, the one who is constantly teasing her and pushing all her buttons. But the more time they spend together the harder it is to ignore their growing attraction. Will Gemma be able to prove that she’s willing to make partner at the firm and have a relationship with Ben?

Gah, how I loved The Devil You Know. After getting glimpses of Ben in the previous books in this series I was so excited to finally get his story. But I have to be honest – I totally fell in love with Gemma. Gemma who’s prickly on the outside, but soft and gooey on the inside. Gemma who has been burned so many times before that she doesn’t know who to trust and definitely not sure if she can trust the one person she wants to trust the most – Ben.

These two had so much chemistry together and I loved every single moment they had together. The banter was exceptional and there was SO MUCH ANGST. The angst had butterflies in my stomach and tears streaming down my face. I’ve already read and re-read my favorite parts.

I highly recommend this entire series and this book was everything I want in a romance book. If you’re looking for a forced proximity, angsty, workplace enemies to lovers romance – I highly recommend The Devil You Know.

CW: workplace harassment, cheating (past character), depression (secondary character), parental neglect.

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Below Zero ALC Review

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: STEMinist Novellas #3

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: April 5, 2022 (audiobook)/July 5, 2022 (book)

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary audiobook from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new steamy, STEMinist novella…

It will take the frosty terrain of the Arctic to show these rival scientists that their chemistry burns hot.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Hannah’s got a bad feeling about this. Not only has the NASA aerospace engineer found herself injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station—but the one person willing to undertake the hazardous rescue mission is her longtime rival.

Ian has been many things to Hannah: the villain who tried to veto her expedition and ruin her career, the man who stars in her most deliciously lurid dreams…but he’s never played the hero. So why is he risking everything to be here? And why does his presence seem just as dangerous to her heart as the coming snowstorm?

To read Mara and Sadie’s stories look for the novellas Under One Roof and Stuck with You available now from Berkley


REVIEW

Hannah first meets Ian when she’s still in school. Forced to write an informational interview on someone who shares the same career girls, she decides to write it on her friend Mara’s cousin Ian. Ian is a NASA engineer and Hannah’s career aspirations are to one day work as a NASA engineer. Their one short afternoon together turns in to so much more when they act on their attraction to one another. But Hannah doesn’t do relationships and tells Ian this. He is hurt, but understands and they part their separate ones.

That is until 4 years later when Hannah and Ian meet again at NASA when Hannah ends up working there. Soon they work together and are constantly in each others orbit. But when Hannah finds out that Ian may be keeping her from her ultimate goal her shields go up.

Only, when Hannah finds herself trapped in a snow storm on an expedition it’s Ian who comes to her rescue. Will she be able to put aside her differences to find out why he’s there when he challenged her project every step of the way?

Below Zero was a short and fun novella. At this point I expect Ali’s books to make me laugh, swoon and deliver on the 🔥 and Below Zero did exactly that. I do love a good time lapse and it was fun to see Hannah, Mara and Sadie first meet and get to know each other through the length of this novella.

Ian was the ultimate cinnamon roll hero and I loved how much he cared for Hannah. I needed to know what happened to put these two individuals who liked and respected each other at odds. I totally binged the audiobook to Below Zero which was narrated by Savannah Peachwood. I have listened to audibooks narrated by Savannah Peachwood in the past and feel like she did a great job narrating Hannah and Ian in Below Zero. I could always tell what the characters were feeling and ended up listening to a majority of this audiobook in one sitting.

I will say that out of the three novellas, this book maybe felt the most like a novella to me and I wanted to feel more of a connection to Ian and Hannah. Overall I did enjoy Below Zero and this series of novellas as a whole!

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

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships ARC Review

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction

Heat Level: Closed Door

Release Date: November 23, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.


REVIEW

Yacht stewardess Jo Walker is on a mission – to complete a 30 before 30 bucket list! She’s checked off so many of the items on her list and only has a handful of things left to do. But recently Jo hasn’t felt much like celebrating or ticking items off of a list. She lost her young nephew and she now feels lost and not so sure what brings her joy.

But Jo’s summer is about to turn upside down because her nieces are coming to visit for the summer! And they are adamant that Jo completes her list. One of the items on Jo’s list is kissing a stranger and Jo soon realizes that the stranger she ended up kissing would be no other than the yacht chef Alex or hot yacht chef as he wants to be known (lol!). As Jo and Alex grow closer, will she let down her guard and let him in or keep everything on the surface as she has been since her nephew passed.

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships was such an emotional read for me. Sarah’s writing was so poignant and she truly writes beautiful prose. I would stop reading a passage just to reread it again. I felt Jo’s pain as well as the pain of her nieces and even her sister after losing a prominent figure in their lives. And while yes, the heavy parts of this book could be really heavy – I also found myself laughing or grinning like a fool at the antics of Jo and her nieces, or Jo and her best friend Nina or Jo and Alex (swoon)!

While LL&FS crossed over more to women’s fiction, the romance aspect was definitely prominent. I was longing for Alex and Jo to find their way to one another. They both had to get there on their own though and I loved their respective journey’s.

I highly recommend Love, Lists and Fancy Ships and can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

CW: death of a loved one, grief, parental neglect, cheating (not main character)

ARC Review A Lot Like Adios

A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Avon

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


SYNOPSIS

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?


REVIEW

Gabe and Mich (Michelle) grew up literally right next door to one another. They were the best of friends – always hanging out, even going so far as writing fanfic for their favorite show. But when it came time to go to college, Gabe left to go to California for a new start. He didn’t say goodbye to anyone, not even Mich.

It’s twelve years late and fate throws Gabe and Michelle back together. Gabe is now part owner of a sports club. Michelle is a freelance graphic designer. When Gabe’s partner reaches out to Michelle (without knowing her relationship to Gabe) she agrees to take on the job. Gabe finally gets in touch with Michelle and they agree to work together. They’ve missed each other and this will be a great opportunity to get back in each others lives.

But the more time Gabe and Mich end up spending together, the complicated their relationship becomes. Not to mention the strained relationship that Gabe has with his family. Will these two be able to forgive each other and themselves and move on?

I really enjoyed A Lot Like Adios. I am a sucker for a second chance romance and these two had so many emotional memories tied to the past. I loved the back and forth being tied in with their fanfic. It was perfect in so many ways, especially when the fanfic mirrored what was happening with Gabe and Mich in the present.

A Lot Like Adios brought the heat 🔥🔥. This book was spice. What I liked most about the sexual relationship between Gabe and Michelle was how open and honest they were with one another. There was bi rep as well as trans and the use of pronouns which is so wonderful to see in a romance.

The parts of this book that were pulling on my heartsrings hard were the parts with Gabe and his parents. Nostalgia can be beautiful, but it can also be heartbreaking. I know the feeling of being in a place you feel like you know so intimately and yet you feel like you’re a stranger. Those feelings were explored so well in A Lot Like Adios.

Overall I really did enjoy this book, I think even more than You Had Me At Hola! If you love a second chance romance, a meddling but loving family – definitely grab yourself a copy of A Lot Like Adios

The Ex Talk ARC Review

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Release Date: January 26, 2021

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

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her public radio station for years and although she’s always wanted to be a host of her own show, she’s good at her job.

Dominic Yun is a recent graduate and colleague at the station and Shay really really doesn’t like him. Not only is he younger than her, but he’s constantly telling everyone how he went to grad school (yawn) and is going to be a great reporter. He’s already guest starred on her own show (!) and the boss seems to really like him.

When a turn of events has Dominic and Shay hosting their own show – The Ex Talk – about exes and them playing the exes (even though they’ve never actually dated) they start to spend more time with other. Both of them soon realize that maybe they didn’t hate each other as much as they thought they did.

I really enjoyed the concept behind The Ex Talk. I loved how bits of the show were incorporated into the book and a lot of those scenes had me laughing out loud. The slow burn between Dominic and Shay had me feeling all the butterflies. Dominic is such a sweet and likable cinnamon roll hero. I loved how Shay and Dominic seemed to understand one another’s idiosyncrasies. Both of them were going through some big changes in life and I really felt their vulnerabilities.

I learned a lot about public radio while reading The Ex Talk, which was actually quite fascinating! I don’t think I ever thought to think there’s producers running a talk show or that there are a lot of behind the scene individuals making a radio show run so smoothly.

Another aspect of this book I really liked was the diversity in this romance! I honestly haven’t read too many romances with Jewish representation and I loved how Rachel Lynn Solomon incorporated so many cultures (Korean, Nigerian, Indian) as well as LGBTQ representation in The Ex Talk. I love to see that happening more and more in romances.

If you’re looking for an enemies-to-lovers, fake (ex) relationship, office romance then grab The Ex Talk when it releases January 26, 2021!

The Boyfriend Project ARC Review

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Office Romance

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Release Date: June 9, 2020

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

Girls night out (GNO) is something I look forward to (when it’s safe to hang out again) with my girlfriends! We usually meet about once a month and I love hanging out with them. We discuss every topic under the sun and by the end of the night my mouth usually hurts from laughing so hard! Since being quarantined I definitely miss GNO. There’s something uniquely special and healing about talking with your female friends vs your significant other. I absolutely loved loved loved the relationship that the three women in The Boyfriend Project had with one another.

Samiah Brooks works at a tech company and is currently dating a guy she met on a dating website. While getting ready to go on their date, she realizes via Twitter that he is on another date with another woman! Samiah decides to head down to the restaurant and confront him. This is where Samiah meets London and Taylor. The two other women who were also dating the same man!

I loved this relationship meet cute between Taylor, Samiah and London. Their interactions and weekly dates were so much fun. I could definitely see myself meeting with my girlfriends just like this!

I also really enjoyed that all three friends were very independent and successful in their own professions. I absolutely love it when strong females are written in romances and Samiah, Taylor and London embody that.

While swearing off men for the time being along with her new girlfriends, Samiah happens to meet Daniel at work. He’s a new co-worker at Samiah’s tech company and they casually start seeing each other.

What lacked for me was the romance equation of The Boyfriend Project. The romance really took a back seat. Samiah’s relationship with her girlfriends and her ability to write a new app were a big part of The Boyfriend Project as well as the reason Daniel was at the company. I enjoyed the suspense surrounding Daniel’s profession, but the reveal and ending tied up a bit too neatly for me. I enjoyed the relationship between Samiah and her girlfriends, but I wish I was more invested in the romance.

I am definitely looking forward to London and Taylor’s books!

The Hating Game Review

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Office Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Do you re-read books? And if you do re-read what makes you want to re-read a particular book? I re-read a lot and always have. There are just some books that really stick with me and I love to re-visit them. Sometimes I will only go back to certain parts that I loved and other times I will re-read the whole book.

With The Hating Game – I have re-read this book at least three times. Each time I re-read this book I love it just as much or more. I think there’s something to be said for re-reading a book. You know what’s going to happen and it’s familiar. And in a time like today where a lot of us are stressed out or don’t have the mental capacity to read a new book a re-read can be something akin to a warm hug.

This time around I listened to the audiobook of The Hating Game and Katie Schorr has such a wonderful voice. She embodies Lucy so perfectly and I love the different ways she can portray happiness or sorrow or regret.

At the hart of The Hating Game is an enemies-to-lovers story and I am a sucker for enemies-to-lovers. Lucy and Josh LOVE to HATE each other. Lucy’s password is IHATEJOSHUA4EV@ – I mean she even hates him in her passwords!

I loved every single game that Lucy and Josh played with one another. The feelings they have for each other are so palpable. But then…then Josh goes and turns Lucy’s worlds upside down and she doesn’t know which game they’re playing anymore.

There are so many little things that makes this book perfect! Sally Thorne does such a great job writing both Josh and Lucy. This book has the perfect amount of angst, steam and sweetness. Even after re-reading it multiple times there are still parts of this book where I had tears streaming down my face (and not always because I was feeling sad). If you love a great enemies to lovers romance please run to pick this book up!