Review: The Rules by Lauren H. Mae

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Steam Level: 🔥🔥💦

Dani & Dylan have known each other for a couple of years now. After fulfilling their Best Man & Maid of Honor duties at their best friends’ wedding, the attraction that’s been brimming between them finally bubbles over the surface and they end up falling into bed together. Dani is a serial dater and Dylan a notorious player. So when Dani begrudgingly agrees to try an online dating experiment, she decides to keep Dylan on the hook as her booty call since she’s not allowed to have sex with any of the online dates until the experiment is over. Soon, they both catch feelings and start picturing things neither of them ever imagined they wanted.

This is the second installment in the Summer Nights stand-alone series by Lauren and she’s quickly becoming such a fun and fresh voice in the indie author community. Just like The Catch, The Rules hooked me from the beginning and I was quickly swept up in the easy chemistry between Dani & Dylan. They fit so perfectly together and it seemed so natural to root for them. This book perfectly balanced the conflict with the laid back and indulgent moments of a new couple who just enjoy each other’s company. Dani is so relatable and the kind of friend every gal wants. And if you read this book without swooning over Dylan more than once, then you’re surely made of steel.

Can’t recommend this Lauren’s books enough and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Thanks so much to the author for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review. The Rules is available now on Amazon and KU!

Review: American Love Story by Adriana Herrera

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Steam Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Excuse me, hi. I need everyone to put down whatever you’re reading right now and pick this one up. I honestly cannot think of a more poignant, fictional romance that will slap harder than this one right now.

We meet Haitian-born professor and social activist, Patrice Denis & golden boy ADA Easton Archer a year or so after they hooked up for the first time. They run into each other often, but Patrice has a new career to focus on and doesn’t allow himself to get lost in Easton again. When local law enforcement start targeting young men of color, Patrice takes to his Twitter account as a call to action. Easton, now the interim DA finds himself desperately wanting to do the right thing, but horrified to learn that good intentions don’t always get the best results. Patrice & Easton can’t fight the draw they have to one another and choose to try to navigate their new relationship during a time where social injustice takes precedence over everything.

This is it, y’all. This is the fiction book you need to read if you want to be an ally but are scared you’re going to screw up. (Spoiler alert: you will screw up. Figure it out, own up to it, and do better). But seriously, this book reiterates what so many of us have been trying to tell you for so long: Romance is valuable. Romance isn’t fluff and smut and kink. It’s such a great teaching resource and Adriana Herrera made that point and drove it home over and over again with this work of art. Also, I want to bottle up the love and steam and romance between Easton & Patrice so I can take a shot of it whenever I need an extra boost of serotonin. The thoughtfulness and care with which they leaned on each other, gave grace, held each other accountable, and lifted each other up just made my heart SOAR. Thank you @kate for the incredible rec! Pick this one up NOW!

Review: What’s Left of Me by Kristen Granata

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Steam Level: 🔥🔥

“The journey was difficult, but I’d go through it all again if it meant I’d end up exactly where I am today.”

Um, excuse me, Kristen Granata, but did you HAVE to rip my heart out, stomp on it repeatedly, then put it back together, and shove it back inside my chest cavity? This was an emotional JOURNEY. I typically lean more towards romcoms so I was a bit apprehensive about this one. But, I was hooked from the very first chapter and even though there were parts of this story that were so hard to read, I’m so glad I did because I truly loved it.

Sure, this is a love story but it’s so much more. It’s a story about hope, and redemption, and two people who are completely broken for different reasons making the conscious decision to help each other heal. Callie & Cole don’t exactly start off on a great note, but over time they learn to trust one another with their deepest and most heartbreaking secrets. While the subject matter of this book could definitely be hard for some people to read, the issues that these characters face are relatable even if you have never gone through a similar situation. Kristen tells this story with such tender and earnest care, carefully guiding the reader through the ups and downs of Callie & Cole’s complicated relationship. If you haven’t read anything by her yet, I highly recommend starting with this one. Sure, you’ll want to curl up in a ball and sob at times, but there are also so many fun and sweet moments sprinkled in that make this book impossible to put down. Don’t sleep on this one. You can easily read it in one sitting!

Thank you so much to the author for the advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review. What’s Left of Me is out TODAY. Available on Amazon & KU!

CW: emotional and physical abuse, loss of pregnancy, loss of child

Review: The Subway Girl by Lisa Becker

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Steam Level: 🔥🔥

Thank you so much to Lisa for sending me an early review copy of The Subway Girl. This story could have gone so many different ways, but I am so happy with where it landed. This story is so unique because the cast of characters are all so likable and fun and you don’t really know who the love interest is for awhile. Once it’s finally revealed, get ready to squeal and ship them so hard. Ryan is such a hunk and you can’t help but root for him to find his dream girl. This was so cute and fun and with everything going on within these pages, you won’t be able to put it down. You’re not going to want to miss this one!

Review: The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Steam Level: 🔥

Five stars for closed door romance is kind of unheard of from me but I just loved this one so much—even more than The Royal We. What?! It was so refreshing yet juicy to see Nick & Bex navigate their newly married life in and out of the spotlight. Their challenges were both unheard of and common; their love tried and tested over things I could never understand, yet felt so much in my soul as a mother and wife. There was something about this one that just stood out more than the original. Perhaps it was that we got to see not only Nick & Bex, but the entire royal family and their friends grow up and into their positions. I also really loved the surprising but lovely relationship that developed between Queen Eleanor & Bex. And can we talk about embracing vulnerability in men for a second, please?? Thank you, @fuggirls because we love to see it!

I can’t recommend this one enough. But you MUST read The Royal We first, Thank you so much to @netgalley & @grandcentralpub for the early reader copy! This will surely be one of my top reads of the year!

CW: loss of pregnancy, fertility issues

Review: The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Stars: 🔥🔥🔥

Carolina Santos was left at the alter by her fiancé. And his annoyingly handsome brother, Max was the one who convinced Andrew that marrying Carolina was a bad idea. Flash forward a few years and Carolina has made a name for herself as one of the top wedding coordinators in D.C. After impressing a VIP guest at one of her weddings, she is offered a chance at the job of her dreams. And of course when she goes to meet the marketing team who she will have to collaborate with, yep, you guessed it…Max & Andrew. Lina & Max limp through tasks together and somewhere along the way, she realizes he’s a hundred times more handsome than she realized and not nearly as awful. Soon their arrangement becomes more than professional, but less than love. Because Lina doesn’t let anyone close enough to fall in love or become vulnerable…but maybe she should.

Alright, look. I 👏🏻 love 👏🏻 Lina 👏🏻. So much. She is honestly such a smart, self aware HBIC who works her ass off and takes less than zero bullshit. She embraces her culture and puts her mom and aunts on a pedestal because they don’t have to attribute their success to anyone but themselves. Max is a total babe. He’s fun and sexy and I love the way he just kind of sat back and let Lina lead. He listened and cherished her so much and it was really beautiful to see their romance evolve. The book started a bit slow for me and it’s definitely a sloooowwww burn, but their chemistry is off the charts and when they finally give in and THERE’S ONLY ONE BED 🔥🙌🏻🥵 totally worth the wait. This is such a fun read that’s centered around a wedding, which I love, but I also enjoyed learning more about Lina’s Brazilian culture and really appreciated how that was woven throughout the story.

Review: All the Little Lies by S.J. Sylvis

Genre: Contemporary Romance (New Adult)

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Steam Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Hayley’s life was turned upside down several years ago when she was orphaned and turned over to the state; just another name in the system. Since then, it’s been a revolving door of schools who don’t see her potential and foster families who can’t or won’t take her in permanently. But when she gets a chance to head back to her old life and her old classmates, Hayley is thrust back into a life she would much rather forget. Except Christian. But Christian isn’t quite so ready to forget the past and welcome her with open arms.

I was lucky enough to beta read this gem and let me tell you what, believe the hype. It’s SO good. Like, it was good when it was still a rough draft. Now it’s amazing. Christian & Hayley’s relationship is heated and contemptuous and real. But the hatred is based on a misunderstanding. Even so, their stories are plagued by so much heartbreak and resentment, it’s hard to tell if reconciliation is even an option or if all the little lies will pile up too high and build up too many walls. Sammi weaves past and present, slums and high society, Hayley and Christian all together into one impossible to put down book. If you haven’t read anything by her yet, THIS is the one to start with. And it’s the first in a stand-alone series! I truly think this book is going to launch Sammi into another stratosphere and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!

This is a high school bully romance so watch out for potential triggers.

Thank you, Sammi, for trusting your baby with me. I loved it so much and I’m so stinking proud of you! All the Little Lies is available TODAY on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!

Review: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Genre: Memoir/Manifesto

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Be Bold and Brave and Queer.”

This is an actual work of art from start to damn finish! I honestly can’t think of a more perfect book for us all to pick up right now as it explores what it means to be Black AND queer in America. George is the kind of person you’d want to listen to talk and laugh and cut up for hours. I loved the way he weaved his different stories together, bouncing around from early childhood, to his teen years, to college, then back to adolescence. Topics include gender and sexual identity, code switching, whitewashing, microaggressions, and how all of these matters are important and poignant for everyone in today’s society to understand, regardless of their race, gender, or sexual preference. The audiobook is narrated by the author and is superb, but the cover is so gorgeous I had to have my own physical copy. So go listen to the audio on Hoopla or through Librofm, but then buy a physical copy. Oh and go ahead and buy another one and send it to the White House, c/o Mike Pence.

Lots of possible trigger and content warnings here, so definitely look into it or DM me before you read!

Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Steam Level: 🔥🔥🔥

“She only spoke English, but was fluent in shade.”

While it is important to read non-fiction works on Black History and anti-racism, you can also learn a lot from reading fiction AND romance by Black authors. I am embarrassed to say this is the first book by Alyssa Cole that I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be my last! Naledi spent her childhood in foster care after the sudden and tragic death of her parents. Stability wasn’t a reality for her growing up, so as an adult she has her guard up always. When she starts to receive a constant barrage of emails claiming she’s betrothed to an African Prince, she rolls her eyes and hits delete. Prince Thabiso is tired of his parents interfering in his love life, so decides to take matters into his own hands and travel from his country of Thesolo all the way to New York City to track down his future wife. A case of mistaken identity allows Thabiso to assume the identity of a normal guy so he chooses to woo Naledi that way and explain the whole ruling a country thing later.

We love a fierce, smart heroine who tolerates zero bullshit. Naledi is a badass scientist who has no problem speaking her mind and setting clear boundaries for the people in her life. But we also love a charming hero who can respect those boundaries, admit to his wrongdoings, and treat a lady right! Naledi is such a Queen with her “this motherfucker” moments (cracked me up every time she said that) & Thabiso is the smooth talking prince and future king that she deserves. Loved the steam, loved the open communication from our heroine, loved the audiobook narration by Karen Chilton. Can’t wait to read the rest in this series and other books by Alyssa Cole!

Review: Jock Row by Sara Ney

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

So I guess I’m just going to be filling my feed with shirtless bro covers? Not even mad about it.

I finished this one a couple of days ago and I’m still trying to figure out why it took me so long to read Sara Ney! This one was so fun and flirty and also v steamy! 🔥🥵 The audio was great and I really loved the characters.

Rowdy & Scarlett meet at party on their university’s infamous Jock Row. Scarlett is not so kindly asked to leave when she sniffs out the BS some baseball players are feeding her friends. Rowdy, the team captain takes it upon himself to babysit her on the porch when she refuses to leave without her friends. And there they meet for the next several Fridays, joking around and playing games, while the party rages on inside.

I loved the unique premise of this book. I loved that Rowdy’s mom is a REGENCY ROMANCE AUTHOR, and I loved a couple other little surprise nuggets that I won’t ruin for you. This is the perfect Sports Romance for readers who actually don’t love sports because it’s heavy on the swooning and light on the baseball.