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

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The Love Hypothesis ARC Review

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

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

When I tell you that I LOVED this book and that it’s already up there as my favorite book read of the year so far – I mean it! Add this book to your TBR – I’m hoping you will love it as much as I did!!! I have already re-read it and will most likely re-read it again before it releases 💕


SYNOPSIS

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.


REVIEW

Olive Smith is a third-year PhD candidate and like everyone else in her program she knows who Dr. Adam Carlsen. He has a reputation for being difficult and making his students cry. Olive knows to keep her distance. Except for that one time when Olive panics and accidentally ends up kissing him – whoops

Olive imagines that Carlsen will immediately put up a fuss and demand she explain what’s going on. Instead he goes along with her charade of pretending to be Olive’s boyfriend. This fake relationship will end up being in both of their interests…but slowly the lines between what is fake and what is real end up blurring. Will they be able to end this “relationship” when their agreed upon deadline comes up? 

I honestly cannot put into words how much I absolutely LOVED The Love Hypothesis. The banter, the chemistry, the humor – it was all doled out in the perfect proportions to make for such a wonderful book! 

I will say that being a female in the STEM field – I related to Olive a lot. But even without the scientific background The Love Hypothesis was filled with warmth and relatable characters. I was rooting for Adam and Olive to get together and loved every moment of their journey together. 

Please add this book to your TBR and pre-order it for when it releases in September. You won’t want to miss this stellar debut by Ali Hazelwood!

Mid-Year Favorite Romances

How is June over already?! I feel like the year just started and it’s already halfway over. Summer is my absolute favorite season – most likely because my birthday is coming up 🤗 I love the longer days, the best fresh fruit and relaxing by the pool! I also love the amazing romances that are released in the spring/summer. I have read some amazing books this year – some have been ARC’s that are still going to be released later in the year and others are books that are already out!

Here are my top ten reads of 2021 so far –

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

  • Fake dating, forced proximity with plenty of sizzling chemistry – I adored this rom-com!
  • Wonderful STEM representation that was so cute and nerdy!
  • Already I can’t wait to re-read The Love Hypothesis!
  • Releases September 14, 2021 – add it to your TBR!!

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker

  • Enemies-to-lovers amongst judged on a baking competition – YES!
  • I loved the banter and sizzling chemistry between Sylvie and Dominic.
  • Definitely plan to be hungry while reading about all the sweet treats in this fantastic rom-com.
  • Battle Royal releases August 17, 2021.

Dear Enemy by Kristen Callihan

  • Kristen Callihan is a new to me author and I only discovered her after reading Make It Sweet – technically the book after Dear Enemy!
  • Loved loved loved the chemistry and history between Macon and Delilah!
  • I’m a sucker for a great second chance romance and Dear Enemy had me hooked right from the beginning!!

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

  • I remember describing Twice Shy as a warm, gentle hug and it truly felt like that while reading it.
  • This romance was achingly sweet. I loved the relationship between Maybell and Wesley.
  • Enemies-to-lovers, grouchy cinnamon roll hero and…an only one tent situation – yes!
  • Highly recommend Twice Shy.

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

  • I recently read The Royals Next Door and while it was my first Karina Halle book it definitely won’t be my last!
  • A bodyguard romance with a sarcastic/grumbly/cinnamon roll hero – yes please!
  • I loved the relationship between school teacher Piper and Harrison, the bodyguard to the royals (who moved next door).
  • I was often laughing, but also loved the more serious topics discussed like mental health and privacy (especially of the royals).
  • Add this one to your TBR – releases August 31, 2021.

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

  • I have to start off by saying friends-to-lovers is not my go to trope. And yet…I LOVED Popply and Alex.
  • Told in alternating timelines between the past and the present I felt like I completely understood these two.
  • The writing from Emily Henry was beautiful as always and I honestly can’t wait to re-read this gem!

A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett

  • Strong STEM representation especially women in HR
  • Grumpy + sunshine
  • A romance so swoony and tender
  • Highly recommend this historical rom-com!!

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

  • Own voices romance featuring fake dating and a cooking competition – yes!
  • Loved Reema and Nadim! They were funny, sweet and so adorable.
  • I related so much to the South Asian representation in Accidentally Engaged and can’t wait to read more from Farah Heron!

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

  • Loved this romance between grumpy sea captain Brendan and insta-famous socialite Piper
  • It Happened One Summer had the perfect combination of humor, romance (so hot!) and tenderness. I loved both Brendan and Piper so much!!
  • Add this book to your TBR – releases July 13, 2021. I already can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Float Plan by Trish Doller

  • Absolutely lovely and brilliant writing by Trish Doller! I was highlighting so many passages as I read along.
  • Loved Anna’s journey of self discovery as the book progressed.
  • While there were serious topics being discussed including mental health and suicide, I loved the way relationships bloomed for Anna. Not just with Keane but the people she meets on her journey while sailing across the Caribbean.

Spotlight & Excerpt of Paws and Prejudice

Paws and Prejudice by Alanna Martin

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Hearts of Alaska #2

Release Date: June 29, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

The second book in the Hearts of Alaska series, Paws and Prejudice follows Kelsey Porter, a proud mom to three huskies and the new brewery owner Ian who not only rubs Kelsey wrong but also doesn’t like her dogs! Paws and Prejudice is sure to be angsty and swoony! Read ahead for an excerpt.


SYNOPSIS

It’s up to a trio of adorable rescue huskies to make two lonely hearts in a coastal Alaskan town realize that true love is worth too much to turn tail and run.

Glaciers have nothing on Kelsey Porter when she decides to freeze someone out. After getting burned once, she’s not about to let it happen again. And right now all that icy contempt is focused on one annoyingly attractive and entitled interloper: Ian Roth. Not only is he looking to take advantage of her quaint, coastal community, tainting the small-town charm of Helen, Alaska, but he has committed the one crime she can never forgive—he doesn’t like her dogs.

Unlike what Kelsey believes, Ian loves Helen’s charms as much as she does. That’s partly why he’s determined to open a brewery there, and he’s not about to let anything or anyone stop his dream from coming true. But he didn’t count on the beautiful, prickly woman getting under his skin. Or having to be within hand-biting proximity of her three huge huskies.

When Kelsey’s family conscripts her into helping Ian get his brewery off the ground, she finds herself caught between a rock and a hard . . . muscular . . . man who has a fear of dogs. But the longer they work together, the more she can feel herself begin to thaw. Now she’ll have to choose: let sleeping dogs lie to protect her heart, or mush head-on toward love.


EXCERPT

Kelsey Porter had always feared that the lies she told would one day come back to bite her in the ass. She’d just never expected the bite would come in the form of work she had no business doing for a man she wanted nothing to do with. But lies were cruel. They built on themselves-words turning into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, until Kelsey had written a novel of falsehoods about who she was and what she did for a living. So when her father volunteered her labor to Ian Roth, Kelsey was triply screwed.

One, she wasn’t about to confess that her alleged work experience was a lie.

Two, she was already extremely busy.

Three, and perhaps most important, Ian was a jerk who didn’t deserve what little free time she had.

Despite never having spoken to Ian, Kelsey was absolutely positive of number three. The man had shown zero interest in her dogs, and that spoke of a cold, unfeeling heart.

Kelsey had tried convincing her father she was too busy to help Ian, but her reasoning had been brushed off as easily as the death glare she’d given him. That was no surprise. Kelsey’s glare had a tendency to make people, particularly male people, want to pat her on the head and tell her how cute she was. Cherubic, even. Being taken seriously was hard when you were short. Add in her blond curls and blue eyes and it was damn near impossible. Her twin brother, Kevin, who shared her general appearance, at least had the advantage of being male. No one thought Kevin was cute when he scowled at them.

And no question, her father wouldn’t have volunteered Kevin to do unpaid labor. That was the sort of BS demanded only of women. Her father hadn’t cared one bit that Kelsey had deadlines to meet and a house she was renovating. Making Ian happy had been more important to him.

“You know I’m right,” Kelsey said as she pointed out this last incontrovertible fact.

Josh had the good sense not to argue, which was why he was her favorite cousin. “You’re probably right, yes. But try not to be so negative. Ian doesn’t know your situation. It’s not his fault.”

So that was who the nagging Be nice voice in her head sounded like. She’d been telling it to shut up since her father had dropped this bomb on her yesterday, and Kelsey turned the full force of her glare on her cousin. It was a combination of displeased, dismissive, and disgusted that on another face might have been lethal. “Excuse me?”

Like her father had, Josh ignored the glare. Freaking men.

They had embarked on their semi-regular afternoon ritual, walking their combined six huskies around the park in downtown Helen. Kelsey had given Josh his three dogs when he moved here a couple of years ago, and they mingled with hers-Romeo, Juliet, and Puck-as they made a circuit around the park’s perimeter.

What a difference a few weeks made. Helen hadn’t entirely shut down for the winter yet, but the number of tourists had so rapidly declined, it was like someone had shut off a spigot. The park, just a couple of weeks ago, had been a maze to navigate with six dogs, but now it was an easy stroll. That was good, because the chillier weather made Kelsey want to keep a faster pace even as she delighted in the scent of the wet grass and salty bay water. Anything smelled better than the drywall compound she’d been inhaling all morning.

Well, almost anything. She was supposed to meet with Ian at his brewery in an hour, and Kelsey assumed the place would smell like beer. She hated beer. Even if she did have experience writing marketing materials, which she most certainly did not, she still would be the worst person in the world to help Ian.

“I’m not saying it was cool of your father to volunteer you,” Josh said as he attempted to detangle a couple of leashes. “But how long can it take you to write some stuff for the brewery’s website?”

“It’s not only the website. It’s also press releases, and a puff piece for the local paper. Maybe even a longer article to submit to some travel zines.”

“And that.” Josh winced, and Kelsey hoped it was dawning on him why she was being so negative.

Lies-spinning them for a living was called fiction. Living them was turning out to be a pain in the ass. Everyone in town, including Josh, believed Kelsey was a freelance writer, and they all had their own ideas as to what that meant. She’d never bothered to correct them, since it hadn’t mattered. Until now.

Kelsey hadn’t the faintest clue what the website work might entail, but she did have an idea how much time it took to write for the Helen Weekly Herald, because she did it on occasion. It helped keep her cover and paid for the occasional new doggie toy, but she hated it. The only thing Kelsey enjoyed writing was novels. Steamy paranormal romance novels about a pack of husky shifters living in the Alaskan bush, to be 100 percent precise, because romance readers knew exactly what sort of stories they wanted, and Kelsey aimed to provide them for the ones who liked hers. It wasn’t what she’d planned to do with her life, but she enjoyed it, was apparently good at it, and had gotten extremely lucky to be able to support herself with it.

And there was no way in hell she could tell anyone in Helen about it. Thank goodness for pen names.

The Soulmate Equation ARC Review

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction

Heat Rating: Closed Door

Release Date: May 18, 2021

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


SYNOPSIS

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.


REVIEW

Single mom Jess and her best friend Fizzy hang out at the same coffee shop daily. They both work from home (Jess is a statistician and Fizzy is an author) and have a great set-up going at Twiggs coffee shop. They get to work, drink great coffee and people watch. A person of interest is definitely tall, dark and handsome Americano. He gets the same coffee order – an Americano – everyday at the same time and promptly leaves. Jess and Fizzy have been watching him for quite some time now. When they find out that he’s the creator of GeneticAlly – an app to help you find your soulmate based on your genetics they’re intrigued and finally talk to him to ask him more. He offers to have them come to the office and give a DNA sample. Jess just happens to match with the stoic Americano, or rather Dr River Pena at a 98% compatibility which is off the charts. Do they give this relationship a try? And how much of it would be based on their compatibility score vs what’s in their hearts?

I really enjoyed The Soulmate Equation! I loved how awkward and nerdy both Jess and River were. The fact that they matched at a 98% level, but seriously couldn’t stand to be in the same room together was hilarious. And at the same time I loved the chemistry building between these two. The Soulmate Equation definitely reminded me a lot of the older Christina Lauren books that are heavily focused on the romance aspect of the book. And while the secondary characters were all very important (loved Jess’s daughter Juno), River and Jess were always the center of the story.

Grab The Soulmate Equation if you’re looking for a unique twist on a romance featuring a dating app. I personally enjoyed the scientific aspect of the book a lot and the nerdy jokes had me laughing out loud several times! Overall, this unique spin on online dating/matchmaking romance was sweet, funny and full of heart!

Neon Gods ARC Review

Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Romantic Fantasy/Mythology

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Series: Dark Olympus #1

Release Date: June 1, 2021

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


SYNOPSIS

He was supposed to be a myth. But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell… he was, quite simply, mine.

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth… a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

A modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.


REVIEW

Persephone wants nothing more than to leave Olympus. With its toxic environment and people always putting on a show, she’s never sure what’s real and what’s fake. She has a few more months left before she can access her trust fund and then it’s see ya later Olympus! Of course nothing is ever that easy and Persephone’s plan get a wrench thrown in it when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus. Zeus is perhaps the worst one of them all. He’s only out for power and of course wants beautiful Persephone at his side as his bride.

Without thinking Persephone runs away from the engagement and straight into the arms of Hades. Hades and Zeus have a tumultuous relationship. Zeus doesn’t venture to the lower city and Hades doesn’t set foot in the upper city. But when Persephone literally falls at his feet, Hades sees so many way to use her to gain an upper hand. What starts off as a mutual agreement to get back at Zeus, slowly turns into something more. Is the charade only that – or is it slowly turning into something more. And when Persephone has access to her funds and leaves Olympus, will Hades be able to let her go?

Neon Gods was my first book by Katee Robert and I was told her books are steamy. Neon Gods was definitely hot Hot HOT HOTTTT! But underneath the sensuality of Persephone and Hades relationship was always an understanding. They were first allies fighting the same fight, then friends and then of course something more than lovers. Although Neon Gods had an insta-love/lust, the storyline was believable and I enjoyed not only the romantic parts, but also Persephone’s relationship with her sisters and Hades relationship with this city. The suspense parts of Neon Gods also had me on my toes and I couldn’t stop reading.

Although this was my first book by Katee Robert, it will definitely not be my last. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series (I wonder which sister will be next??).

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