ARC Review Bitter Sweet Heart

Bitter Sweet Heart by H. Hunting

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: New Adult/Sports Romance

Series: Lies, Hearts & Truths #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: September 1, 2022

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


SYNOPSIS

From the outside looking in, I live a charmed life: hockey legend for a father, my own promising future in the league, a great family, awesome friends. It’s not untrue, but it’s not quite that simple either.

My dad’s advice has always been to make hockey my number-one priority—at least until I make it to the pros. So, going into my senior year of college, I have a plan. I’ll put in the effort required to pass my classes, play hockey like my life depends on it, and avoid relationships. All I have to do is stay focused on the end game, and I’ll walk away with a degree and into a career in the NHL.

It should be easy.

But when a woman literally floats into my dock, just before summer ends and my senior year begins, I can’t resist one last hookup. What harm could a one-night stand do? It’s not like we even exchanged numbers.

Everything is fine until I run into her on campus.

It’s a big school. I should be able to avoid her.

Except she happens to be in my class.

And she’s not a student.

She’s my professor.


REVIEW

Maverick has a seemingly perfect life. His father is a hockey legend, he’s on his way to becoming an NHL player himself – what could he possibly be worried about. As summer comes to an end, Maverick happens to have one last hot summer fling. He never expects to see his summer fling again.

Clover has been having a hard time. Separating from her husband hasn’t been easy and she’s always found some solace at the lake. So when she happens to have a one night stand, she doesn’t think anything of it. Never expecting to see Maverick again, Clover is floored when Maverick just so happens to be a student in her class. Will these two fight their attraction to one another or try to make a relationship work between them?

This age gap romance was full of angst and sweetness. While Maverick may come across as someone who has his crap together, past trauma left a lasting impression on him and he’s been fighting these demons for a long time. And while I understood Clover’s hesitations with starting a relationship with Maverick, she saw through Maverick’s facade and always there for him when he needed her the most. I don’t always have the easiest time with an age gap romance, but these two worked together in Bitter Sweet Heart.

I love the world that Helena has created starting with the Pucked series. These characters hold such a special place in my heart and I love revisiting with them. I seriously can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Although technically a standalone, I would definitely read Little Lies before starting Bitter Sweet Heart. Lavender’s (Maverick’s sister) journey is essential to this story.

CW: anxiety, ptsd, harassment/gaslighting

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Series Spotlight – Make it Sweet & Dear Enemy by Kristen Callihan

Have you discovered any new to you authors this year? I have discovered a few of them including – Karina Halle, Lucy Parker and Kristen Callihan. In February so many friends were posting about Make it Sweet by Kristen Callihan and I had to buy the book and check it out for myself.

To say that I loved Make it Sweet would be an understatement. I loved the broody, pastry making, ex hockey player Lucian as well as sweet and sunshine-y movie star Emma. Their fun banter, slow burn and vulnerabilities got to me and I LOVED this book so much. I realized soon after reading Make it Sweet that there was a second book in the same universe – Dear Enemy. I immediately started reading it and maybe loved it even more than Make it Sweet.

I love an angsty, second chance romance, enemies-to-lovers slow burn romance and Macon and Delilah were a couple I was rooting for from the first page! Dear Enemy had me crying not soon after starting it and I loved everything about this book.

If you haven’t read either of these books yet, I highly recommend them! I have the audiobook, e-book and physical books of both of these books – that only happens if I really LOVE a book 😍

You can read my full review of Make it Sweet here and Dear Enemy here!

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!

A Kiss for a Kiss ARC Review

A Kiss for a Kiss by Helena Hunting

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Series: All In #4

Release Date: May 27, 2021

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


SYNOPSIS

I’m Jake Masterson, single dad, and the General Manager of Seattle’s NHL team. I walked away from a career as a player so I could raise my daughter. For the last twenty-plus years, Queenie has been my main priority, but now she’s getting married.

And there’s a small complication.

A beautiful, sexy complication named Hanna.

She’s my son-in-law’s older sister. Or at least that’s how they were raised. The truth is a little more scandalous than that.

I’ve been drawn to her from the moment I laid eyes on her. And I spent months trying to keep a lid on that attraction.

Until we finally give in.

It starts with one searing kiss, but quickly ends with us between the sheets—and in the shower, and the hot tub, you get the picture—and turns into months of sneaking around.

Here’s the problem: we live on opposite ends of the country. It can’t be anything but casual. And as I’ve already said…it’s complicated.

But when Hanna finds out she’s pregnant…suddenly things get real serious.


REVIEW

After finishing Kingston and Queenie’s book I have been looking forward to Jake & Hanna’s story! Jake is beyond happy that his baby girl is getting married. Wedding planning is a lot, and Jake is ecstatic that he gets to spend time with Hanna – Kingston’s sister/momster while they both plan the wedding. What starts out as a few scorching looks here and there turns into them having an affair. It’s not always easy as Jake lives in Seattle and Hanna’s life is in Tennessee. But what starts of as a mutual attraction towards one another turns into something a lot more than either of them expected. How will they handle this curveball thrown at their relationship?

Helena’s writing is always amazing and A Kiss for a Kiss was no exception! The emotional depth that both Jake and Hanna exhibit really added to their characters. When Hanna finds out that she’s pregnant – I totally sympathized with both Jake and Hanna’s feeling. While the pregnancy trope isn’t one I seek out, I knew I had to read this book especially being set in the All In world which I love!

Seeing the gang again was seriously so much fun! I love that Helena is able to incorporate past characters into the storyline – especially Kingston, Bishop, Stevie and Queenie. Their interactions were always so much fun and brought some comedic relief in a sometimes serious book.

I felt so much for Hanna. The fact that she was so young when she had her first baby definitely makes it a more emotional story for her, and her vulnerability was always at the forefront. Some of my most favorite moments of the book were Hanna and Kingston’s conversations ♥.

While A Kiss for a Kiss can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading A Secret for A Secret before picking it up!

Not My Match ARC Review

Not My Match by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: The Game Changers #2

Release Date: January 19, 2021

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

I received a complimentary copy and ALC from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers a smart and sexy romance about a professional football hottie and the girl he’s sworn to never touch.

Homeless and heartbreakingly innocent, Giselle Riley walks into my penthouse and chaos follows.

I shouldn’t have invited the girl genius to live with me, but it’s clear she needs my help—not only for a place to lay her pretty blonde head but in finding real love, which she’s not going to get with the crazy men she picks up online.

Too bad she’s a twenty-four-year-old virgin and I’m a bad boy wide receiver. She’s off limits for a hardcore player like me—and we’re just friends.

Instead, I’m her matchmaking service, no matter how jealous it makes me when I tag along on her dates.

I can keep my self-control. Right? No way will I give in to everything inside me that dreams of a girl like her in my world.

I may be the best wide receiver in the country, but how could I hold on to a girl like her?


REVIEW

Giselle Riley is book smart (she is a physicist after all), but she’s not having the best of luck with her dating life. It doesn’t help that Giselle’s brother in law, Jack (from Not My Romeo) has declared her off limits to his teammates including Jack’s best friend Devon. When a bad date leads Giselle to Devon’s night club, he ends up coming to her rescue and talks her into letting him set her up with a “perfect” date.

When an unfortunate circumstance leaves Giselle homeless for the moment, Devon comes to her rescue and lets her stay in his guest bedroom. Giselle and Devon slowly get to know one another – and Giselle even agrees to let Devon set her up on some dates. While roommates for the moment, Giselle and Devon end up spending a lot of time with one another. Will they stay friends or will their growing attraction towards one another lead to something more?

Immediately when Giselle and Devon were on the same page I could feel their electricity. I loved their sweet friends to lovers story. They truly took the time to get to know one another and that made me root for these two even more. Ilsa Madden-Mills definitely knows how to write steamy scenes and the sexy times between Devon and Giselle were so HOT! But underneath their physical attraction, both Devon and Giselle exposed their vulnerability and I loved that most of all.

Although I did read Not My Romeo, you don’t have to read these books in order to enjoy them. Not My Match can be read as a standalone.

Audiobook:

Story: 5
Narration: 5
Overall: 5

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook of Not My Match. The audiobook was narrated by Summer Morton and Alexander Cendese. These two did an amazing job narrating Giselle and Devon. I had not listened to an audiobook narrated by either Summer Morton or Alexander Cendese, but I feel like both of them did a wonderful job portraying different emotions for their characters. I could always tell if Devon or Giselle were happy, sad or anxious. I really enjoyed listening to this duo narrate Not My Match.

If you’re looking for a forced-proximity, friends to lovers steamy romance – grab your copy of Not My Match.

Little Lies ARC Review

Little Lies by H. Hunting

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: November 16, 2020

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


SYNOPSIS

I don’t want you.
You mean nothing to me.
I never loved you.


I turned my words into swords.
And I cut her down. Shoved the blade in and watched her fall.

I said I’d never hurt her, and I did.

Years later, I’m faced with all the little lies, the untruths, the false realities, the damage I inflicted, when all I wanted was to indulge my obsession.

Lavender Waters is the princess in the tower. Even her name is the thing fairy tales are made of.

I used to be the one who saved her.
Over and over again.

But I don’t want to save her anymore.
I just want to pretend the lies are still the truth.

A standalone angsty new adult romance.

Heroine:
 Lavender Waters (Alex and Violet Waters’ youngest daughter, PUCKED and FOREVER PUCKED couple origin, Pucked Series )

Hero: Kodiak (Kody) Bowman (Rook and Lainey Bowman’s son, A LIE FOR A LIE couple origin, All In Series ) 


REVIEW

Little Lies follows the relationship between Kodiak (if you remember he’s Rook and Lainey’s son from A Lie for a Lie) and Lavendar (Alex and Violet’s daughter from Pucked). Lavendar and Kodiak have always been close from a young age, but as they got older they started relying on each other a little too much and their families decided it was best to put some space between the two.

Lavendar and Kodiak haven’t seen other for a few years now and they’re both going to school at the same college in Chicago. Not only are they going to the same school, but they’re also neighbors. This puts them in close proximity often. Both Lavendar and Kodiak have to keep their guard up around each other because there’s been so much history between the two. They don’t exactly have a great relationship with a lot of pent up anger on both sides. Will they eventually be able to reconcile their friendship or are they bound to be at odds?

I absolutely loved the Pucked and All In series by Helena Hunting, so when I found out she was writing a new adult book surrounding Lavendar and Kodiak I was ecstatic!! Little Lies was so so good and I ended up binge reading 60% of Little Lies in one sitting. I love an angsty romance and Little Lies definitely delivered. I also really loved the way Helena was able to incorporate the flashback scenes in the book – letting the reader know why Kodiak and Lavendar’s relationship is so tumultuous. And at the same time this book was pulling on my heartstrings and I was rooting for Lavendar and Kodiak to get together!

Little Lies can be read as a standalone but I would highly recommend reading the Pucked/All In series! I hope that Helena continues with this universe and we get the stories for Lavendar’s siblings as well as cousins (I definitely want a book for BJ & Maverick!).

Rules of Engagement Review

Rules of Engagement by J.T. Geissinger

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Sports Romance

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

Maddie runs her own matchmaking service, Perfect Pairings. She’s organized, meticulous about her business and loves pink. Mason is surly, grumpy and in need of a wife so that his organization will get off his back. He’s the local quarterback, but isn’t always in the good graces of his football team.

When Maddie and Mason meet – sparks fly. Maddie and Mason couldn’t be more opposite from one another. Soon their professional relationship turns into a friendship and from there the lines start to blur. But can these two make it work – when they both believe that they’re clearly not suited for one another?

I absolutely LOVED the banter between Maddie and Mason. I’d be laughing one moment and then have my heart pounding in the next. The delicious slow burn had me screaming for these two to finally realize how much they wanted each other.

They weren’t always perfect and often lashed out at each other. But I loved how they understood each others vulnerabilities. I also really enjoyed the secondary characters – especially Mason’s agent Dick and Maddie’s Aunt Waldine. They brought a lot of humor and heart to the story and I loved their mini chapters in between.

If you want a romantic comedy that brings the humor but also the sweetness – grab a copy of Rules of Engagement. I’m looking forward to reading more books by J.T. Geissinger.

Not My Romeo ARC Review

Not My Romeo by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance

Series: The Game Changers #1

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: August 18, 2020

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

Do you like to read sports romances? I love a sports romances, so when I read the synopsis for Not My Romeo – I knew it was a book I had to pick up right away!

Elena doesn’t have the best of luck with men. They usually love her and leave her and she’s had enough. But when her best friend sets her up on a blind date – she agrees. Turns out her date is a hottie and they end up having a one night stand. But her one night stand isn’t who he said he was and turns out to be football quarterback Jack Hawke.

I absolutely LOVED Not My Romeo. I read it over the course of one day and could not put this book down. With Jack and Elena’s respective histories, you would think that these two wouldn’t be so willing to be together. But Elena and Jack had so much great chemistry and I loved the way they let their guard down with one another. Their little inside jokes and hanging out (watching K-dramas) were my favorite.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters in Not My Romeo as well and that is really hard to do. A lot of times secondary characters are added in, but don’t really help with the plot of the book. Definitely not the case with this book and I loved everyone from Elena’s mom to Timmy – the little boy who idolizes Jack.

Not My Romeo was my first book my Ilsa Madden-Mills, but will most definitely NOT be my last! I can not wait for the next book in the series (maybe Devon or Aiden?).

40-Love ARC Review

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance

Series: There’s Something About Marysburg #2

Release Date: June 18, 2020

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

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

40-Love was my first book by Olivia Dade and I enjoyed it so much! You know how sometimes there are characters that you just really relate to? Well I related to Tess Dunn so very much. Maybe it’s because I’m almost 40 and overweight, but I loved the way she was written 💕

Tess who is celebrating her 40th birthday in Florida happens to cross paths with 26 year old Lucas Karlson in the most perfect meet-cute. Lucas ends up helping Tess out in a precarious situation (she’s lost her bikini top) and in that brief amount of time you could feel the sparks flying between these two!

Lucas turns out to be a previous professional tennis player that teaches tennis to resort guests. Tess just happens to have a few sessions booked with him while on vacation. Their tennis matches were some of my favorite parts of the book! I loved how both Tess and Lucas got to know one another while playing tennis.

40-Love was such a charming book. This was my first book by Olivia Dade, but will most definitely not be my last. I loved the raw vulnerabilities in both Lucas and Tess. You don’t often see an overweight, 40 year old heroine in romance books and yet Olivia writes Tess so perfectly. I related so much to this wonderful character. At the same time I also related to Lucas Karlson. The 26 year old swede who seems so carefree and perfect on the outside, but is hurting on the inside.

I will be honest and say that I’m not usually a fan of age-gap romances and the insta-love that happens in some romances, but it really worked for me in 40-Love! Both Lucas and Tess communicate with one another and that was so refreshing. They have their own scars and wounds that need to be healed, but they each lay out their vulnerabilities so that they can understand one another.

40-Love is the perfect summer read and look at that gorgeous cover! To me that cover really captures Tess and Lucas so perfectly! I can’t wait to go back and read the rest of the series.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me Review

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Heat Rating: 🔥

Do you enjoy a slow burn in a romance book? I had so many book friends recommend The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and I immediately bought it, but hadn’t gotten a chance to read it yet. I enjoyed the book in the beginning, but them somewhere around 40% I started getting bored because the pace was so slow. I really wanted to love this book, but sadly I don’t think I really enjoy the really drawn out slow slow burn that Mariana Zapata is known for.

Vanessa has been an assistant to football player Aiden Graves for a few years now. He’s moody, bossy and doesn’t talk much. Vanessa eventually reaches her breaking point and quits. She’s done. She doesn’t need to be around an undeserving boss anymore. And then….then Aiden is back in Vanessa’s space begging her to come back.

Going in to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, I knew that it was going to be a slow burn. But wow was this book a slooooooow burn. I don’t mind a slow burn, but for some reason I just wasn’t connecting with Aiden and Vanessa as a couple in this book.

There was just so much other stuff going on in the book that I feel like it took away from the couple and the slowly developing romance between Aiden and Vanessa.

I realize that so many people (including a lot of my friends) loved The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, so it might have just been me or the mood that I was in. I did enjoy listening to the audiobook (I listened on Audible Escape) though!