ARC Review – Love on the Brain

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?


REVIEW

Bee Königswasser, a scientist with NIH is given the chance of a lifetime to team up with NASA and it’s a dream come true for her! She’s so ecstatic…until she finds out that she will be working alongside Levi Ward – her arch-nemesis. Levi and Bee were in grad school together, but Levi was always so cool and reserved and hated Bee. She’s not sure anything’s changed in the past few years and is dreading working with him.

The project starts off immediately on the wrong foot. Being a woman in the STEM field, Bee should be used to it, but she was hopeful and excited. Soon, Bee’s not sure that she can put up with all the crap she’s having to deal with. Not to mention that Levi either ignores her or is trying to sabotage her every step of the way. But not everything is at is seems and soon Bee finds herself working alongside Levi. Will these two be able to work past their differences to work together?

After reading The Love Hypothesis, I was highly anticipating Love on the Brain. And oh, how I loved Levi and Bee together. Their chemistry and banter was evident right from the beginning. This enemies-to-lovers, second chance romance was equally swoony and funny. I constantly had a grin on myself while reading it.

Read Love on the Brain if you love Star Wars, cats, Marie Curie, texting ala You’ve Got Mail, nerdy jokes and lots of puns…so yeah I could go and on and on, but please add this book to your TBR!

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Spotlight & Excerpt – The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Genre: Paranormal Romance / Women’s Fiction

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I’m currently reading this heart warming, magical read and I am loving it! Minka Moon is a witch who is also part of the very secret society of irregular witches – a group of witches who occasionally meet and discuss how magic seems to be affecting their lives.

Minka is used to being alone and not really having any friends. So when she decides to create an online account where she pretends to be a witch – she doesn’t think there’s any harm in that (also it’s a secret from the other witches). When she is contacted about her witchraft and tasked to helping three young witches control their magic – Minka is befuddled. Who is taking care of these witches? How are they all together – it’s a rule to keep witches apart as their magic can be powerful when combined? And most importantly who is Jamie – the temperamental librarian at Nowhere House and why is he so distrustful of Minka?

I can’t wait to dive back into the book. I am loving all of the secondary characters as well as Minka’s self discovery and her prickly relationship with Jamie.


SYNOPSIS

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family–and a new love–changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….


EXCERPT

THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES by Sangu Mandanna

Berkley Trade Paperback Original | August 23, 2022

Excerpt

When the spellwork part of the meeting was complete, Primrose cleared her throat. “Finally, does anyone have any news they’d like to share?”

“It’s okay to say it’s time to gossip, Primrose,” Mika said merrily. “We all know that’s what comes after the spellwork.”

“Witches don’t gossip,” sniffed Primrose.

This was patently untrue, however, because gossiping was precisely what they proceeded to do.

“My ex-husband wanted to get back together last week,” said Belinda Nkala, who was in her forties and never had time for anyone’s nonsense. “When I turned him down, he informed me that I am apparently nothing without him. Then he left,” she added calmly, “but I fear he’s going to be suffering from an inexplicable itch in his groin for a few weeks.”

Several witches laughed, but Primrose set her lips in a thin line. “And have you been playing such petty tricks lately, Mika?”

“Oh, for the love of fucking god, Primrose, what does this have to do with me?”

“It’s not an unreasonable question, precious. You do like to take risks.”

“For the millionth time,” Mika said, irked beyond belief, “I post videos online pretending to be a witch. It’s just a performance.” Primrose raised her eyebrows. Mika raised hers right back. “Hundreds of people do the same thing, you know. The whole witch aesthetic is very popular!”

“Witchcore,” Hilda said, nodding wisely. “Not quite as popular as cottagecore or fairycore, but it’s up there.”

Everyone stared at her.

“I didn’t know fairies were real!” shouted Agatha Jones, who was almost as old as Primrose and tended to believe all young people needed to be shouted at lest they miss the import of her pronouncements. “Whatever next!”

“You see, Primrose?” said Mika, ignoring this interruption. “People call themselves witches all the time. I’m not putting myself or you or anyone else at risk. Nobody who watches my videos thinks I’m actually a witch.”

It was unfortunate for Mika, then, that at that precise moment, over five hundred miles away, in a big house in a quiet, windy corner of the Norfolk countryside, a skinny old man in a magnificent rainbow scarf and enormous fluffy slippers was saying exactly the opposite.

“Absolutely not!”

This came from Jamie, the scowling librarian, who was not in fact the skinny old man in the scarf and slippers. That was Ian. And the third person in the library was Lucie, the housekeeper, a chubby, round-cheeked woman in her fifties, who sighed as if she knew exactly how this argument was going to go. (She did know, and she was right.)

Ian smoothed down the tail of his scarf and replied, in the deep voice that had charmed audiences in many a small theatre over his eighty-odd years, “Don’t be difficult, dear. It doesn’t become you.”

Jamie was unmoved by this criticism. “You can’t seriously be considering bringing that”-and here he jabbed a finger at the dewy, sparkly face on the screen of Ian’s phone-“into the house?”

“Why not?” Ian asked.

“Well, for one thing, there’s no way she’s a real witch,” Jamie said irritably. This was not unusual. Most of the things Jamie said were said irritably. “What kind of witch would show off her magic on a platform with millions of viewers?”

Mika would have been immensely gratified to hear this, had she been there, but it looked like her double bluff had not hoodwinked Ian.

“She’s a real witch,” he insisted.

“How the hell can you possibly know that?”

“I have excellent observation skills. Just watch part of the video.” Ian wiggled his phone like he was dangling a lollipop in front of a toddler. “A minute. That’s all I ask.”

Jamie’s glare stayed firmly in place, but he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against his desk to look over Ian’s shoulder. Gleeful, Ian tapped the screen and the video started to play.Excerpted from The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna Copyright © 2022 by Sangu Mandanna. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.

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!

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)