Tag Archives: Contemporary Romance

Team TBR Challenge Review: Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon Impulse on March 19, 2019

Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.
Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?

This book has been on my TBR pile and got bumped up in the pile after it was mentioned in a Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast episode. And then I got to pick a novella for this month’s TBR Challenge, and I picked this book, and I only regret not reading it sooner. Reggie was first introduced to us in A Duke by Default, and the events in this novella happen parallel to those in that book. Most of the focus is on the relationship between Reggie and Gus but we do get doses of other relationships Reggie has, especially those with her sister and her parents. This is probably what I would call insta-love in terms of how the romance works, but the fact that the speed with which it’s acknowledged and the misunderstanding is also cleared up worked, and it didn’t feel rushed or forced. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon on December 1, 2020

When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.

By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.

This book has been on my TBR pile (digitally speaking) for a while. I was hesitant to read this because Alyssa Cole often described it as a “Bluebeard” retelling, and that is not one of my favorite tales. However, I’m here to say that this isn’t a creepy or gory retelling, it is focused on the emotional structure of the story. The only tricky part for me about this book was fully comprehending Chanti’s motives, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and cheering at the happy ending. Plus, we meet a secondary character that is hilarious and acts as a sort of catalyst, and for fans of Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, there are cameos by a lot of characters in this book. Chanti has a lot of drive, but she doesn’t know what she’s walking into when she agrees to marry Sanyu, who is not emotionally ready to be king or husband but who is willing to learn. This book is set in a fictional country on the continent of Africa and is interwoven with the places Cole has created in her Reluctant Royals series. Continue reading

Spoof Review: Dreams of the Past by Laura Hunsaker

Dreams of the Past by Laura Hunsaker
Contemporary romance published by Laura Hunsaker on January 12, 2021

She needs rest, he needs relaxation…

Jenny Travers wants a fresh start. Leaving the nightmares of her past behind her, she heads to Last Chance Beach. Renting the Sea Glass Cottage sounds peaceful and relaxing, which is exactly what she needs.

What she doesn’t need is a man.

Lieutenant Commander Scott Gordon was injured by an IED on his last mission, and while his leg has healed, it’ll never be strong enough to stay on his SEAL team. Renting the Sea Glass Cottage sounds like the perfect place to figure out how he’s going to handle his new normal.

He never expected to find a woman in his bed.

A mix-up at the rental agency means Jenny and Scott are both renting the small cottage. Sharing a space with a stranger should be hard, yet they both feel more at peace than they have in months.

Will their summer romance last, or is the magic of Sea Glass Cottage all they’ll have…

I mean OMG there’s only one bed. ONE BED!

In Dreams of the Past, we have your typical forced proximity story of two strangers and one bed. Now we all know that either stranger could walk out of the building at any time. I mean they aren’t snowed in, they’re stubborn. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters #3) by Talia Hibbert 
Contemporary romance published by Avon on March 9, 2021

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong – so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins a wedding, her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself – even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is always in control. The uptight B&B owner expects nothing less than perfection from his employees, so when a purple-haired tornado of a woman applies for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car – supposedly by accident.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen – and his spare bedroom. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else…

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is a great conclusion to The Brown Sisters trilogy (I reviewed Get a Life, Chloe Brown here and Take a Hint, Dani Brown here). This book delivers the same funny, sexy beats as the prior books in the series. Eve and Jacob quickly develop this beautiful relationship where they can be themselves with each other and not second guess how they’re coming across or put up a front. It’s just lovely (and super hot!).

(Note: Please read the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book for content warnings.) Continue reading

[Belated] Team TBR Challenge Review: I Think I Might Love You by Christina C. Jones

I Think I Might Love You (Love Sisters Book 1) by Christina C. Jones
Contemporary romance released by Christina C. Jones on April 25, 2019

Jaclyn Love is a magnet for trouble – it seems to follow her wherever she goes.

Unfortunately for Kadan Davenport, she also seems to be a magnet for him – even after a disastrous first impression that leaves him – literally – black and blue.

Jaclyn is busy trying to find some sort of balance, and Kadan is just trying not to get swept up in the chaos.

In a small city like Blakewood, it’s hard to avoid each other… especially when each additional encounter makes them wonder if they really want to.

Let’s start out on a personal and a positive note! This will be the last belated review – no more late TBR Challenge reviews from Limecello in 2021 after this! … >.> Which also I think this is supposed to be my last scheduled one for the year? Never mind that though. 🙃 Now! This book! I’m so glad I read it! I’ve already recommended it on social media. I own the ebook – but I actually just listened to the audiobook, and it’s fabulous! (The story is too of course – the narration is great too and there’s … one scene that I think really made it for me – but we’ll get there.) I fudged a little bit because Christina C Jones isn’t entirely new to me. I discovered her last year and have blown through a lot of her backlist. And listened to some of her books over and over [and over and over and over and over] already. Continue reading

Review: Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Contemporary romance released by Rebekah Weatherspoon Presents on June 27, 2020

Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon book coverBetrayed and set adrift…
Months before she’s set to walk down the aisle, assistant district attorney Brooklyn Lewis suffers an unthinkable loss. It’s bad enough her fiancé is violently taken from her, but along with her grief she must also process the fact that the man of her dreams was unfaithful. Friends and family want to see her heal, but Brooklyn doesn’t know how to move on from trauma and deception until she discovers she’s not the only one broken by this tragedy.

A light in the storm…
Attorney Vaughn Coleman and his partner Chris Shaw have also lost the love of their lives, who was found lifeless in the same bed as Brooklyn’s fiancé, taken from them by the same killer.

Unmoored by grief, Brooklyn, Chris, and Vaughn fall into a relationship that both fulfills them and threatens to pull them under the waves of guilt, but they soon realize it may take the love of three people to bring their battered ships back to shore.
*This romance features a polyamorous relationship between two men and a woman, with BDSM overtones*
While this is a stand alone novel, there are additional characters featured in other stories. Reading order for the characters in this story: Haven, Sanctuary, Rafe, Xeni, Harbor.

There are a couple of content warnings I want to provide before diving into this review. The book talks about death and infidelity. This is a romance between three people, Brooklyn “Brook,” Shaw, and Vaughn. What I liked most about this book is that Weatherspoon starts off in a place of grief and confusion, but successfully gets the characters, and by extension the readers, to a happy ending. Vaughn and Shaw grow just as much as Brooklyn, although their growth felt more intertwined because Vaughn and Shaw already have an established relationship before meeting Brooklyn. We also get to see a lot of female friendships on Brooklyn’s side of the story, which I always enjoy. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Crave by Evelyn Sola

Crave (Clark Family Book 1) by Evelyn Sola
Contemporary romance published by Evelyn Sola on March 2, 2020

Sandra
Before THAT night, the over the top party and the cake incident, I spent Saturday nights with girlfriends, lamenting my life over margaritas.
I wasn’t ready for Jacob Clark. He was sin and dark edges, wrapped in regret. He was my Kryptonite. His words oozed over me like warm honey. His dark eyes pricked my soul, and his touch….those fingers set my skin on fire.
Of course he was too good to be true. And before I could wipe the icing off my greedy lips, I was walking away.
So, why was he invading her dreams?

Jacob
She was the remedy to everything. Until my family, my past, provoked me.
I made one little scene, and Sandra walked away without a word, despite our mind-blowing connection.
When I finally barged in on her life again, she told me she didn’t want me. I told her in her pretty face she did. She more than wanted me.
Remember the ache? When I’m with her, it goes away.
If she wants a chase, I’ll give her one.
Who knows? When I catch her, I might never let go.

[So … late is better than never, right? 😅] The way I think about this book is: what if you met your perfect match on the worst night of their life? While it wasn’t the worst night of Jace’s life … he’s reacting to it still. I actually listened to the audiobook – it’s narrated by Mari and Troy Duran. I’ve listened to other books Mari narrated before, but Troy was new to me, and *fans self* his voice, y’all. Anyway. This book! I’m glad I stuck with it because at first glance, the hero is not very “hero material.” … But we quickly find out why – and it’s such a great, sexy contemporary. I’m also a major sucker for a smitten hero. Another bonus is – the dogs! Zeus (a bull mastiff!) and Lady (a poodle). Low key the detail and attention to the dogs is what kept me initially reading/listening when I might’ve DNF’d otherwise. So many authors write a dog into their books and just never mention them again. Not the case here. And also, once we got into the actual story with Jake and Sandy, I was hooked. Continue reading

Review: Blacklisted by Jay Crownover

Blacklisted by Jay Crownover
Contemporary romance released by Forever on October 27, 2020

Blacklisted by Jay Crownover book coverDr. Presley Baskin has always lived a quiet, calm life. Unfortunately, nothing about her life in Loveless, Texas — especially not the wild, rowdy, and impossibly close-knit Lawton family who’ve claimed her — is quiet or calm. Which is how loner Presley finds herself roped into patching up local bad boy Shot Caldwell against her better judgment. Presley wants nothing to do with the dangerous, brooding leader of the local outlaw motorcycle club. But when someone starts stalking her, Shot is the only person she trusts to help. Plus he owes her one . . .
Palmer ‘Shot’ Caldwell has always known his life isn’t made for relationships. At least until shy, secretive, Presley reluctantly pulled a bullet out of him. He’s oddly protective of the pretty doctor, so when she comes to him for help, hard-hearted Shot suddenly realizes there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

I have not read a motorcycle club romance in a few years, so I was curious how this one would go. On the one hand, it was fairly easy to familiarize myself with the various family and friends of both of the main characters, and the plot and its conflict did not rely heavily on events in earlier books. On the other hand, the way mental illness is used in this book left me troubled after I finished it, which is why I delayed writing a review for this book. I’m also ethically uncomfortable with how a medical examiner is in a long-term relationship with the president of a motorcycle club by the end of the book, and this is clearly not a cuddly motorcycle club (like Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven). Presley is the medical examiner in the novel, and Palmer “Shot” is the motorcycle club president. Presley’s growth is perhaps best seen in how she stops retreating from good things in her life as the book progresses–she also stops retreating from bad things, which maybe isn’t a great development. Shot is more difficult to explain, partly because it felt as though he already knew he loved Presley from the beginning of the book, based on the little inner asides in his voice scattered throughout the book; his character arc is that he is willing to commit to Presley and express his feelings verbally. I wasn’t necessarily satisfied by these arcs, or the general plot. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand
Contemporary romance released by Laura Florand on January 26, 2015 

Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand book coverShe stole his roses.

Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out rock star Layla—“Belle”—Dubois seeks refuge in the south of France. That old, half-forgotten heritage in a valley of roses seems like a good place to soothe a wounded heart. She certainly doesn’t expect the most dangerous threat to her heart to pounce on her as soon as she sets foot on the land.

He wants them back.

Matt didn’t mean to growl at her quite that loudly. But—his roses! She can’t have his roses. Even if she does have all those curls and green eyes and, and, and…what was he growling about again?

Or maybe he just wants her.

When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.

It might involve kissing.

I’ve been hoarding this book for a moment of true need. Or at least, that’s how I’m explaining why it took me this long to read this book, considering that it’s been in my virtual TBR pile for a very long time. It was, as with other Florand books, lush, funny, and richly layered both in terms of plot and characters. I guess you could loosely describe this as a beauty and the beast retelling, in so much as we have a really grumpy love interest who has a very soft heart–Matthieu, and a love interest who is beautiful, kind and curious–Layla. But because this is written by Florand, it is more than that. It is a musician who inherits a house in France, and steps into a family involved in the perfume industry who are collectively going through some growing pains. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2) by Talia Hibbert
Contemporary Romance published by Avon on June 23, 2020

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert book cover Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When big, brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and former rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact to him, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Suddenly, half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf is secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

The easy lay Dani dreamed of is now more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Take a Hint, Dani Brown is a delightful read and I highly recommend it to contemporary romance fans (along with the first book in the series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, which I reviewed here). For me this book has the perfect balance of issues to resolve but not so angsty I had to set it aside to cry at the low point. Exactly what I needed to read right now! Dani and Zafir are #couplesgoals and #swoony! Continue reading