Review: The Wedding Deal (Heart in the Game #1) by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Former quarterback Lance Quaid just inherited the most losing team in the NFL. He’s got only a few weeks until draft day to turn things around, and after firing more than half his staff, he can’t do it alone. Thankfully, his HR manager is more than capable, if only she’d stop focusing on “due diligence” and stop looking so sexy while she’s yelling at him.

Charlotte James has made a life out of following the rules. But nothing could have prepared her for Lance Quaid––he’s a human resources nightmare. The man is brash, has no filter, and, as her new boss, is constantly relying on her to cover his ass. Which is admittedly quite nice.

When Lance begs her to join him on a trip down the coast for his brother’s wedding so they can finalize details––on a strictly business basis––she agrees…after they fill out the necessary forms, of course. Away from the office, though, sparks start flying as the team starts coming together. But both of them know anything more than the weekend would be a colossally bad idea––after all, the extra paperwork would be a nightmare.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Wedding Deal will be available March 25, 2019. 

I’ve enjoyed several Cindi Madsen books and thought The Wedding Deal looked like the perfect book to feed my Contemporary craving. While I did like it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.

I felt the book was much longer than it needed to be. I thought there was too much repetition and the story dragged a little bit. There’s only so many times I need to hear how distracted a character is by their attractive co-worker’s [insert body part here]. I also really dislike long chapters and the majority of the chapters were much longer than I prefer.

That said, I did really enjoy the romance. I thought Lance and Charlotte complemented each other so well, professionally and personally. While there was a little too much of the whole “he/she is so attractive” rhetoric, there was also a lot of discussion about how smart, caring, funny, and hard-working each other were. They helped make each other better, too. I really appreciated that the romance was based on so much more than the physical and I definitely shipped them.

Overall, I enjoyed The Wedding Deal. While it was a little too long for my taste, I did really like the romance and the sweet relationship Charlotte and Lance developed. I also thought the story was set apart a little bit from the normal Sports Romance by focusing on the owner of a team instead of a player. I would recommend it to someone looking for a light romance and doesn’t mind long chapters.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Review: Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A second chance doesn’t guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.

Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she’s built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it’s all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.

TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he’s moved on.

When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they’ve suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they’ll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Fumbled will be available April 23, 2019.

I really enjoyed Alexa Martin’s debut, Intercepted, and her follow up book solidifies her status as one of my favorite Romance authors.

I am not usually a fan of the “Surprise, you’re a father!” trope, but that did not negatively impact my enjoyment of Fumbled. I thought that part of the plot actually worked out well, though I did feel it resolved itself just a little too easily. There were things that happened when Poppy first found out she was pregnant that I didn’t feel were really discussed enough and Ace, now nine, is old enough to have questions he never asks. He just 100% embraces TK as his father and there’s no awkwardness or anything. However, maybe the the lack of the mega drama I expected was why it worked for me.

I really liked Poppy and TK together. I would’ve loved to have had some flashbacks to when they were first together, but even without it the whole Second-Chance Romance worked for me. I definitely shipped them. I loved how sweet TK could be, both with Poppy and with Ace. I liked him in the previous book and I was glad to see more of him in this one. Poppy was a good main character, though her short temper did frustrate me sometimes. I also really enjoyed Poppy’s group of friends and seeing some of the characters from the first book again.

In a book with such a focus on professional sports, I thought it was really nice to see the subject of head injuries play such a large part of the story. I thought it was woven into the story really thoughtfully and you can tell it is something important to the author – a wife of a former football player herself – to shine a light on.

Overall, I really enjoyed Fumbled. Though it tackled (see what I did there?) some more serious subjects than the previous book did, it was still a really fun read that I didn’t want to put down. I loved the characters and shipped the romance. I am definitely anxious to read whatever Alexa Martin writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps. 

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Passion on Park Avenue will be available May 28, 2019.

I’m a big fan of Lauren Layne and always look forward to her books. While Passion on Park Avenue was enjoyable, I have to admit I found it a little underwhelming.

I’m going to start with the things I liked:

-I loved Oliver. He was smart and sweet and loyal and I just adored him. I liked his dedication to his family, even though they had their issues. I liked the romance between him and Naomi, even if it was frustrating sometimes.

-I liked Naomi’s new friends, Audrey and Claire. We actually don’t see as much of them as I expected, but I’m interested in both of their upcoming stories.

-While Lauren Layne is one of my favorite Romance authors, my usual complaint with her books is that there are always a few scenes more graphic than I care for. I’m so happy to report that that was not the case with this book! There’s innuendo and suggestive talk, but there are no sex scenes and I really appreciated it. I thought it put the romantic focus much more on emotions and actual relationship details instead of just physical stuff and I found it much more meaningful.

Ok, so now onto the things that didn’t quite work for me:

-For a good long while in this book, I did not like Naomi at all. She just came across so shallow to me. Everything was just about status and money and expensive stuff and I just couldn’t care about it. Also, her big revenge plan was to move back into her old apartment building and then let her mom’s former employer and his son know who she was and how she had as much money as them now. I wasn’t really sure what that would accomplish? It’s not like she was buying the building and kicking them out. Or buying their business out from under them. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

-I also thought Naomi was an odd choice for the first book in the series. She was that brash character that always speaks her mind, even if it could be hurtful. The kind of character that is usually the main character’s best friend that you don’t really like until she gets her own book and then you get to know her better. I did eventually like her, but it took me awhile. I’m much more interested in Claire and Audrey’s stories (particularly Audrey and Clarke).

-One of the subplots include the development of a tv show based on Naomi’s rags to riches story. I found that interesting, but thought it could have been explored much more than it was.

Overall, I did enjoy Passion on Park Avenue. I liked the friendship and Oliver and how the romance focused more on the relationship than on the physical stuff. I felt like not a whole lot really happened in the story, though, and it took me a really long time to start caring about Naomi, so I’m giving this a little lower rating than I do most Layne books. However, I am definitely looking forward to the next books in this series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Unhoneymooners will be available May 14, 2019. 

This book was so fun! The Unhoneymooners is definitely among my favorite of Christina Lauren’s books and I know it’s one I’ll be re-reading in the future.

I absolutely loved the banter between Olive and Ethan. There was also a lot of humor surrounding Olive’s very large, very involved family. I was smiling a lot while reading this book. I also loved that the story employed two of my favorite tropes: Hate-to-Love and Fake Relationship. I enjoyed watching their relationship change as they got to know each other better and the awkward moments as they pretended to be a couple.

Both main characters were likable and I shipped them together. That said, Olive was frustrating at times. She had communication issues and she jumped to conclusions pretty easily. I also thought she was a little too stubborn on things she shouldn’t have been. One of the big obstacles between Olive and Ethan comes from them disagreeing about Ethan’s brother’s (who is also Olive’s new brother-in-law) behavior. The fact that Ethan would give his brother the benefit of the doubt instead of automatically agreeing with Olive seemed a reasonable response from his character and her treating it like such a betrayal seemed a little over the top.

Speaking of Ethan, I wish we would’ve gotten more from his point of view (we only get one chapter at the end). I went into this expecting it to be dual POVs, so it took me a little while to get over that, but I did ultimately enjoy Olive’s POV, so it still worked for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Unhoneymooners. I loved the banter and the fake relationship situations and the romance (though there are a few scenes a little more graphic than I prefer). This is a perfect read for somebody in a real Rom-Com type of mood and I definitely recommend it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

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Synopsis from GoodReads:

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Flatshare will be available May 28, 2019. 

The Flatshare is a super cute and fun debut and I really enjoyed it!

I thought the odd flatshare arrangement was really unique. Since Tiffy and Leon work different shifts and Leon is always away on the weekends, their paths never need to cross – and Leon’s jealous girlfriend will make sure of it. However, they still need to communicate to each other sometimes and they start leaving each other notes. As time goes on, the notes go more from business to personal. I really enjoyed the notes and how their relationship develops. It’s several months before they do actually meet in person (in spectacularly awkward fashion) and I loved how it developed further from there, as well. Their banter was funny and quirky and I completely shipped them.

I really thought all the characters were well done. I loved Tiffy’s group of friends and the different perspectives they brought to the story. I also liked Leon’s brother who managed to still be a point of lightness in the story, even though he was going through some awful stuff. I even thought Justin, Tiffy’s abusive ex-boyfriend, was well done – though obviously I hated him. While they were sometimes a little over-the-top, all the characters came off as real and relatable and I enjoyed reading about them, even when it didn’t feel like a lot was going on at times.

The story isn’t all fun and romance, though. There are a couple of really heavy topics woven throughout the book. Leon’s brother, Richie, is in jail for a crime he claims he didn’t commit and Leon has been working tirelessly to get him an appeal. Tiffy is dealing with trying to break free of her psychologically and emotionally abuse ex-boyfriend who keeps popping back up. It seems I’ve read a lot of books lately with this particular plot line and while I’m happy that such a prevalent and important topic is being addressed more often, it is really hard for me to read. It’s hard to not get frustrated with the person being abused because it’s so obvious what has been happening and it’s hard to understand how that person doesn’t see it. I did really appreciate Tiffy’s journey, though.

There were a couple things I didn’t love, though. The chapters from Leon’s point of view had kind of a weird narrative and structure. Leon is a really quiet guy and doesn’t use any more words than absolutely necessary. Dialogue was also presented more like a script than with “he said/she said” format. It took a long time to get used to how his chapters were written.  It was a little off-putting at first, but eventually I kind of stopped noticing it. Also, while it never got super graphic, there was more focus on sex than I prefer in my books. And though it doesn’t take up much of the story at all, there are a few mentions of American politics that I didn’t love. I read fiction to get away from all the craziness of real life. And doesn’t Europe have enough of their own problems to talk about instead of bringing the US into it?

Overall, I really enjoyed The Flatshare. I loved the characters and the humor and the romance. Even though there were some heavy topics, I really enjoyed almost every moment of the book. I thought it was a very impressive debut and it’s a book I know I will read again.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

 

Review: Romancing His Rival (Accidentally Yours #3) by Jennifer Shirk

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hopeless romantic Elena Mason doesn’t often hate people, but she hates her ex-fiancé’s insufferable best man, Lucas Albright III. She just knows Lucas is the one who talked her ex out of getting married—so Lucas is clearly the cause of all her problems.

And now she’s expected to work with him? Oh, heck no.

Lucas Albright wants nothing more than to make partner at his advertising firm, and he knows he works best alone. But then Elena ends up as his partner on an account that could win him a promotion. He had a great reason to end her engagement, not that she’d ever believe him. Still, he’s willing to try working as a team.

Unfortunately, his new “partner” wants him dead.

Elena knows she’s going to have to give in and work with her nemesis, though nobody said it had to be easy for him. But what happens when fighting starts feeling a whole lot like falling in love?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Romancing His Rival will be available February 11, 2019. 

Jennifer Shirk always writes such sweet romances and Romancing His Rival was a great addition to the Accidentally Yours series.

The story was a little Hate-to-Love, which I always enjoy, though the hating was really only on Elena’s side. I liked seeing Lucas eventually win her over as she realized her preconceived ideas about him were wrong. I thought they had good chemistry together and I shipped them.

I was often frustrated by Elena, though. It’s so obvious that Scott is an awful choice for her, but she’s so desperate to be in a relationship that she refuses to see it. I have seen many women settle for a bad relationship that eventually ended and brought more pain just because they were so desperate not to be alone and I will never understand it. However, I did really love the lesson Elena learned about having to find happiness yourself and not depending on other people for it. So many Romances have the love interests “saving/fixing/healing” each other and it’s really refreshing to see a story that shows how romantic love can enhance your life, without being the reason for your whole life.

One thing I didn’t like, which isn’t really a comment on the story itself, is how I don’t feel the title represents the book well. The title, along with the synopsis, makes it sound like they’re both in the same field and have been competing against each other when they’re paired up on a project and have to work together. In reality, Lucas kind of has to beg Elena to help him on his project, as a freelancer. I think something like “enemy” would have been a better choice than “rival”. Also, Lucas never hated Elena, so while he might be her enemy/rival, she was never his. I know this is super picky to point out and while it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book at all, it still bugged me.

Overall, I enjoyed Romancing His Rival. The romance was cute and I was glad to see Elena get a happy ending. I also really appreciated the message of not depending on other people to be happy. I recommend this one to fans of sweet Romances.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls #3) by Julie Cross

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Brooke Parker never expected to find herself in the tiny town of Juniper Falls, Minnesota. Of course, she also never expected to lose her dad. Or for her mom to lose herself. Brooke feels like she’s losing it…until she finds Juniper Falls hockey. Juniper Falls girls’ hockey, that is.

Jake Hammond, current prince of Juniper Falls, captain of the hockey team, and player with the best chance of scoring it big, is on top of the world. Until one hazing ritual gone wrong lands him injured, sitting on the sidelines, and―shocking even to him―finding himself enjoying his “punishment” as assistant coach for the girls’ team.

As Jake and Brooke grow closer, he finds the quiet new girl is hiding a persona full of life, ideas, and experiences bigger and broader than anything he’s ever known. But to Jake, hockey’s never just been a game. It’s his whole life. And leveraging the game for a shot at their future might be more than he can give.

Each book in the Juniper Falls series is STANDALONE:
* Off the Ice
* Breaking the Ice
* On Thin Ice

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

On Thin Ice will be available February 26, 2019. 

I have liked the other books in the Juniper Falls series, but I really loved On Thin Ice. It completely surpassed my expectations and I enjoyed it so much that I already want to re-read it.

I found both Jake and Brooke really likable characters. They both have had rough things happen in their lives and I felt like their reactions made sense for their age and situations. I also really loved them together. Their relationship didn’t have the best start, but I loved how it developed. I also really enjoyed seeing characters from the previous books like Tate, Claire, Fletcher, and Stellers.

I thought the hockey hazing storyline was well done. Over the course of the series we’ve seen how toxic the environment can be and how hockey players are given a lot of slack in the town, but it all really comes to a head here. I was glad to see the behavior was finally addressed and that it was the players themselves that brought it forward. It was a refreshing take on such a serious topic. I do wish that the issues with Brooke’s family were given a little more attention, though. Topics like self-harm and a suicide attempt are brought up and pretty quickly dismissed.

Overall, I just really loved On Thin Ice. I enjoyed the characters, the friendships, the romance, and the addictive writing. I really never wanted to put this one down. I recommend this one to fans of YA Contemporaries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars