The Roughest Draft ARC Review

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.


Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Husyn were THE sensational writing duo. Their books made it big and these two co-authors had a knack for working together. Their work was always amazing and their books were best sellers. So then, what happened to Katrina and Nathan? Why did they “break-up” and never write another book again? And more importantly – why are they now coming back together to write one more book together? 

This book…I finished it a few weeks ago and I honestly cannot stop thinking about it. This book was messy, angsty and filled with a lot of anger, hurt and tension. I really liked the flashbacks between how Nathan and Katrina were before and how they are currently. I was itching to find out what happened to make them dislike each other so much. 

I will admit that I am not a fan of cheating or love triangles and this book had no black or white area where that was concerned. It was a very gray/murky area and I’m honestly not too sure how I feel about that. That being said, The Roughest Draft was a book that deeply touched me. It’s a book that was often hard to read at times, because it felt so real. I still find myself thinking about Nathan and Katrina. 

Grab your copy of The Roughest Draft if you’re looking for a second chance, angsty romance that will leave you thinking about these characters long after you’ve read the book.


Top 10 Romances of 2021

2021 reading was a wild ride! I didn’t read quite as many books as I have in previous years, but I’m okay with that. Life was hectic, busy, chaotic and full of ups and downs this past year. The books I did read were pretty amazing for the most part.

The books listed below are my favorite 10 books that I read this year. Narrowing down the choices was so hard! There is a mix of books that were published from previous years, this year and even a few ARCs that are releasing in 2022. These were all five star reads for me and I highly recommend each and every single one!

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

  • The Love Hypothesis had everything I love in a rom-com –
  • Funny scenes that had the perfect banter⁣
  • Fake dating/forced proximity/only one bed…need I say more?? ⁣
  • The tension and build up of a slow burn between the MC’s⁣
  • Strong willed and confident women in STEM ⁣
  • Consider this book to be a true rom-com with so much awkwardness that I had to constantly shut the book because I was laughing out loud so much!

Dear Enemy by Kristen Callihan

  • Second chance romance and so much shared history and angst between the two.
  • Forced proximity situations that had me laughing out loud, yet swooning at the same time.
  • Slow burn and so much sexual tension
  • While Dear Enemy is a standalone, I definitely recommend the other book in this duology – Make it Sweet which technically takes place after Dear Enemy.
  • Highly recommend the audiobook to Dear Enemy -it was fantastic!

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

  • Friends to lovers
  • So much angst it had me swooning and tugging on my heart strings.
  • Timeline jumps that had me laughing and crying in equal measures and biting my nails at the anticipation of what was going to happen next.

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker

  • A romance featuring dueling bakers and a royal wedding⁣
  • Great British Bake Off or other baking shows vibes woven throughout thebook⁣
  • A grumpy/grumbly hero (who makes contestants cry), but might have a soft heart underneath
  • A spunky sunshiney heroine who loves glitter and all things sweet⁣

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

  • A slow burn with that steam we can expect from a Tessa Bailey book
  • Friends-to-lovers romance⁣
  • Hero and heroine who are both so vulnerable but are each others greatest support⁣
  • Angst, swooning and a book that will make you laugh and grin while reading it ⁣
  • Doesn’t release until 2022 – but I HIGHLY recommend it. Definitely read It Happened One Summer to get you ready for Hook, Line, and Sinker

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

  • Enemies to lovers/bodyguard romance
  • Slow burn⁣
  • Grumpy/grunty hero that is a cinnamon roll (and can make cinnamon rolls)⁣
  • Fiercely loyal and funny heroine who unapologetically loves romance ⁣
  • A romance that has wonderful mental health representation⁣

Lease on Love by Fallon Ballard

  • Forced Proximity
  • Great friendships throughout the book⁣
  • Humor mixed in with plenty of angst
  • This book was just…sigh so great. It was such a sweet and soft romance.
  • And although there was a lot of humor throughout the book, there was also a lot of discussion on grief and starting over that was written so beautifully.⁣

The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

  • A second chance romance told over the span of years
  • Two very head strong characters who will not settle for anything less, but want only the best for each other
  • Political intrigue and issues being discussed that are still affecting us including: how indigenous people are being treated, clean energy, race, gender
  • The sweetest, swooniest and steamiest romance!

Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday

  • Friends to lovers⁣
  • Slow burn romance⁣
  • Grumpy/sunshine (she’s the grumpy one)⁣
  • The cutest puppy⁣
  • Christmas-y vibes (but never felt over the top)
  • If contemporary romance met historical romance I feel like it would be Duke, Actually. Which sounds so strange – but works so well

The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

  • Wonderful book about the loss of friendships, new friendships and the vulnerability that comes with both.
  • Sweetest romance with great banter. I had a grin on my face every time Willa & Liam were on the same page. I was constantly laughing out loud and rooting for the two to get together!
  • A book so profound and touching that I can’t possibly do it justice with my words – highly recommend!

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.

Ice Planet Barbarians – Review

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy Romance/Sci-Fi Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Series: Ice Planet Barbarians #1

Publisher: Berkley


You’d think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you’d be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they’ve left their cargo of human women – including me – on an ice planet.

And the only native inhabitant I’ve met? He’s big, horned, blue, and really, really has a thing for me…


Georgie finds her self abducted an on a strange icy planet. She’s alone, scared but bands together with the other women on the ship to take over the aliens. Now Georgie somehow finds herself the leader and sets out to find out if the planet is hospitable.

This is where she runs in to blue alien Vektal. As Georgie comes to know Vektal she realizes that 1) he totally has a thing for her and 2) he already considers her his mate. Georgie’s not sure if she wants to stay on the strange planet with Vektal or find a way back home.

Okay, so the hype was real with Ice Planet Barbarians. I have been hearing about this series for quite some time yet, but only recently decided to read the series when the cover got an overhaul (love the new cover by the way). I went in with a very open mind – which you will totally need to. And I ended up really loving Georgie and Vektal.

There was a lot of hot alien sex – so definitely be prepared. I liked the set up of characters though and I look forward to reading the next book in the series!

CW: rape (off page), kidnapping, dubious consent

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.


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.


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)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.

ARC Review Well Matched

Well Matched by Jen Deluca

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Well Met #3

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: October 19, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

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


Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire — a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again… something that doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans — and open her heart — for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.

An accidentally in-love rom-com filled with Renaissance Faire flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.


Single mom April is about to have an empty nest. With her daughter Caitlin ready to graduate high school, April doesn’t feel the need to stay in Willow Creek. April is ready to move on from small town living – maybe the big city or a change of scenery is up next. But she needs help renovating her home before she sells. And this is where her good friend Mitch offers his services. Mitch is willing to help April with her renovations if she returns a teensy tiny favor. If April can pretend to be his girlfriend for a weekend then he’ll help with renovations! April isn’t quite sure, but soon finds herself agreeing.

And that’s when all the fun begins! I really enjoyed Well Matched. This charming friends to lovers/fake relationship romance was so sweet. I adored Mitch and how funny and sweet he was with April. While I’m not usually a fan of the age gap – I really didn’t see the issue with April being older than Mitch. Mitch was mature and their interactions always felt sweet and romantic – never weird or forced.

Both April and Mitch have so many vulnerabilities and I loved how they were always there defending each other whether they asked for it or not. The moments with April and Caitlin really got to me. I don’t read a lot of single parent romances, but felt like Jen DeLuca did a wonderful job with this sweet mother and daughter in Well Matched.

If you’re looking for a sweet romance that will sometimes transport you to the Renaissance Faire (I seriously loved these scenes) then grab your copy of Well Matched!

June Reads

I can’t believe it’s already July – the best month (okay maybe only because it’s my Birthday month 😂). How is half of the year already over?! I wrapped up my favorite books of the year so far and you can read my blog post here if you’d like. There have been some amazing books that have released this year and I am looking forward to what’s in store for the rest of the year. I ended up reading more than my usual in June. The Royals Next Door was easily my favorite book of the month!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

Pucked Off by Helena Hunting (re-read)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

Love Scenes by Bridget Morrissey

Rating: 3 out of 5.

To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

May Reads

I can’t believe that June is here! How did almost half of the year already fly by? May was a great month! A few of my favorite things from this month included baking these cinnamon rolls I baked for mother’s day that turned out amazing. I also got to have happy hour with my girlfriends who I hadn’t seen in 1+ year (all of us are vaccinated) which was so much fun and made my heart so happy. And I listened to more audiobooks on my runs (thank you Hoopla!). I had a pretty great reading month and even had a chance to read one of my most anticipated books of the summer/fall!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker

A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang