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 The Lady Gets Lucky

The Lady Gets Lucky by Joanna Shupe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: The Fifth Avenue Rebels #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Avon


Following The Heiress Hunt, beloved author Joanna Shupe continues her new Fifth Avenue Rebels series with a scandalous romance about a good girl desperate to rebel and the rebel desperate to corrupt her.

A first-rate scoundrel.

A desperate wallflower.

Lessons in seduction.

The woman no one notices . . .

Shy heiress Alice Lusk is tired of being overlooked by every bachelor. Something has to change, else she’ll be forced to marry a man whose only desire is her fortune. She needs to become a siren, a woman who causes a man’s blood to run hot . . .and she’s just met the perfect rogue to help teach her.

He’s the life of every party . . .

Christopher “Kit” Ward plans to open a not-so-reputable supper club in New York City, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to hire the best chef in the city to guarantee its success. Even if it requires giving carnal lessons to a serious-minded spinster who has an in with the chef.

Their bedroom instruction grows passionate, and Alice is a much better pupil than Kit had ever anticipated. When the Society gentlemen start to take notice, Kit has to try to win Alice in other ways . . . but is he too late to win her heart? 


Heiress Alice Lusk needs a teacher. Specifically someone to teach her the art of seduction. Her mother thinks that Alice will have no problem finding a suitor – especially with her large dowry. But Alice wants to marry for love. So she finds the one person who she thinks would be perfect in helping her become a vixen – Kit Ward.

Christopher “Kit” Ward is a known scoundrel. He likes to keep his relationships on the surface and is definitely not the settling down sort. So when Alice comes knocking at his door with a proposal to teach her how to seduce a man… he’s at a loss for words. But Alice and Kit just happen to be at the same place at the same time – a house party thrown by Kit’s friend Maddie. And Maddie has forbidden Kit to seduce any of the young women at the soiree.

But when Alice has a proposal for Kit – he has a hard time turning her down. She will help Kit with written recipes for the opening of his supper club and he will help her with her lessons. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh how I loved The Lady Gets Lucky. Kit and Alice had so much chemistry together and I loved every single scene where they were together. Their interactions always left a grin on my face. But with the sweet and funny was also the perfect amount of angst. I wanted these two to end up together right from the beginning of the book.

I will admit, I wasn’t a fan of The Heiress Hunt, but absolutely loved the second book in the The Fifth Avenue Rebels series. I can’t wait to find out who is getting their story next!

CW: parental verbal abuse, alcoholism, death of a friend by alcoholism

ARC Review The Ex Hex

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Paranormal/Contemporary Romance

Series: Ex Hex #1

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Avon

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


New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.


Vivienne Jones fell in love one perfect summer, nine years ago. Vivienne met Rhys Penhallow and sparks flew. There might have been the hiccup that he was a decendent of the towns ancestors, but Vivienne believed their love could survive everything. That is, until Rhys broke her heart and left for Wales. Heartbroken and drunk on vodka, Vivienne and her cousin decide to curse Rhys! They didn’t think anything came of it and Vivienne moved on from Rhys.

It’s now nine years later and Rhys is back in town. The strangest thing – he doesn’t think his magic works in Graves Glen and he is on some important business on behalf of his father. For him to finish his task, he will definitely need to use his power. It isn’t until he runs into Vivienne that Rhys realizes she put a hex on him. Now the entire town is in danger – will Rhys and Vivienne find a way to reverse the curse without falling for each other again?

If you are a fan of Halloween (which I so am!) I think you will definitely enjoy reading The Ex Hex. I loved the description of the scenery and the vivid colors that Erin Sterling invoked while reading the book. The Ex Hex had me laughing out loud almost right from the beginning. I loved the relationship that Vivienne had with her aunt as well as her cousin Gwyn. The suspense to try to reverse the curse was also a lot of fun!

My only qualm is that I wish there was more angst/longing/back story with Vivienne and Rhys. I wasn’t quite sold on their second chance love story.

Overall I would give The Ex Hex 3.5 stars! I hope that Gwyn gets her book – she’s such a fun and feisty character and I would love to read her story!

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.


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?


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