Book Review

ARC Book Review: Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 24th, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When a couple starts to feel like they’re married to a stranger, a flirtatious game of pretend becomes the spark they need to reignite their relationship.

Eliza and Graham are anticipating an anything-but-sexy, weeklong getaway to celebrate their five-year anniversary. Nestled on the Northern California coastline, the resort prides itself on being a destination for those in love and those looking to find it. For Eliza and Graham, it might as well be a vacation with a roommate.

When a well-meaning guest mistakes Eliza and Graham for being single and introduces them at the hotel bar, they don’t correct him. Suddenly, they’re pretending to be perfect strangers and it’s unexpectedly…fun? Eliza and Graham find themselves flirting like it’s their first date, and waiting with butterflies in their stomach for the other to text back.

Everyone at the retreat can sense the electric chemistry between Eliza and Graham’s alter egos. But when their scintillating game of roleplaying ends, will they still feel the heat?

Thank you to Berkley Romance for the eARC.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

You know what got me off on the perfect foot with this book? That Graham and Eliza weren’t two bitter, mean characters where you didn’t even want to cheer them on to fix their marriage. These two LOVE each other and WANT deeply to make things work and that made me love them immediately and want the best for them.

I thought it was a fun idea to kind of “role play” to get out of their own way. It led to some good banter and to some moments that truths could be revealed. For a book set at only a resort I thought there were ample opportunities for activities that didn’t feel forced and allowed major character development.

Side note to David? CAN HE HAVE HIS OWN BOOK PLEASE? I loved him so much and how good of a friend he was! He was the perfect side character touch that brought some lightness and helped Graham by being someone he could talk too.

Eliza took the most time to really break down some barriers. What I loved though is that Graham talked and approached things with such love. There was no condemning and call outs. He voiced his thoughts and Eliza started to truly reflect on how she handles conflict and tough situations. Same went for Graham’s growth. Once Eliza was aware of what was happening for him, she went out of her way to make obvious remarks to build his confidence. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH.

There’s a beautiful focus on the fact marriages aren’t perfect, but two people who want badly enough to try and work together and stay open to communicating can make it perfect. I loved many of the dialogue surrounding communication and asking questions and finding new ways to keep loving the person that changes over time with you.

This is there best adult book yet.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: two brief open; low explicit
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: strained familial relations

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Exes and O’s by Amy Lea

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Amy Lea
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 10th, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A romance novel–obsessed social media influencer revisits her exes on her hunt for true love in this romantic comedy from the author of Set On You.

Romance-novel connoisseur Tara Chen has had her heart broken ten times by ten different men–all of whom dumped her because of her “stage-five clinger” tendencies. Nevertheless, Tara is determined to find The One. The only problem? Classic meet-cutes are dead thanks to modern dating apps. So Tara decides to revisit her exes in hopes of securing her very own trope-worthy second-chance romance.

Boston firefighter Trevor Metcalfe will be the first to rush into a burning building but the last to rush into a relationship. Love just isn’t his thing. When his new roommate Tara enlists him to help her reconnect with her exes, he reluctantly agrees. But Tara’s journey is leading him to discover his own new chapter.

The more time they spend together, the more Tara realizes Trevor seems to be the only one who appreciates her authentic, dramatic self. To claim their happily-ever-after, can Tara and Trevor read between the lines of their growing connection?

Thank you to Berkley Romance and Netgalley for an eARC.

ADORE.

Ohhh how this grew on me. After loving Set On You I had to get my hands on this book and it did not disappoint.

I loooved Tara. I connected through many of her thoughts about romance, love and life and really enjoyed the journey her character went on. Her ability to be optimistic about love and the place she wanted it to hold in her life was incredibly hopeful. Tara needed someone to see and love all of her and that’s where sweet Trevor enters the picture. TREVOR. Good heavens. From a disastrous meeting to slowly peeling away all of those layers!? I was in a PUDDLE by the ending confessions. I loved his counter balancing gruff nature and how he was just always *there*. This duo truly went from roommates to friends to lovers and I was couldn’t get enough.

The forced proximity moments had me grinning like a fool. I LOVED the banter and all the times Tara dragged Trevor along (who we all know went willingly) to whatever plan she had in store that day. The entire vibe of this book was exactly what I was seeking. A light hearted (yet serious) look at finding love.

Amy Lea is easily becoming an auto-read author for me. I love the way she writes romances and the slow burn payoff is always worth it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: 2-3 open door; mild explict
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a child with a heart condition, gaslighting, mentions of death of loved ones

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo credit to author Amy Lea

Amy Lea is an Asian Canadian government analyst who runs the Bookstagram account @amyleabooks, where she promotes and reviews contemporary romance novels. Set on You is her debut novel. Learn more online at www.amyleabooks.com.  

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Book Review

Book Review: Do You Take This Man by Denise Williams

Rating: ★★★☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Denise Williams
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 6th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After butting heads, an event planner and a wedding officiant begin an enemies with benefits arrangement as wedding bells chime around them in the newest rom-com from acclaimed author Denise Williams.

Divorce attorney RJ would never describe herself as romantic. But when she ends up officiating an unplanned wedding for a newly engaged couple in a park, her life is turned upside down. The video of the ceremony goes viral, and she finds herself in the unlikely position of being a sought-after local wedding officiant. Spending her free time overseeing “I dos” isn’t her most strategic career move, but she enjoys it, except for the type A dude-bro wedding planner she’s forced to work with.

Former pro-football event manager Lear is a people person, but after his longtime girlfriend betrayed him, he isn’t looking for love. He knows how to execute events and likes being in control, so working with an opinionated and inflexible officiant who can’t stand him is not high on his list. He’s never had trouble winning people over, but RJ seems immune to his charms.

Surrounded by love at every turn, their physical attraction pulls them together despite their best efforts to stay an arm’s length apart. Lear refuses to get hurt again. RJ refuses to let herself be vulnerable to anyone. But when it comes to happily ever after, their clients might not be the only ones saying “I do.”

OVERSHADOWED.

I’m not a super spice loving gal. BUT I can overlook it whenever the plot and characters beside it are strong. Unfortunately the spice really took over here and I had a hard time looking past the friends with benefits motif.

The characters were good. I did love the dual points of view between RJ and Lear. The banter was seriously FIRE. I was cracking up and it had a very good enemy to lovers vibe. New workplace rivals that butted heads and felt the heat between them.

I’m sadly realizing while writing this that I don’t remember a lot of the plot. This goes back to the heavy physical relationship over anything emotional that came late in the game.

I loved Williams first two books and I’m bummed this one was a miss. I’m still hopeful about whatever book is coming next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple open door; high explicit
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexism, cheating recounted, death of parents mentioned

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Well Traveled (Well Met #4) by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ★★★★☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: December 6th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Renaissance Faire is on the move, and Lulu and Dex are along for the ride, in the next utterly charming rom-com from Jen DeLuca.

A high-powered attorney from a success-oriented family, Louisa “Lulu” Malone lives to work, and everything seems to be going right, until the day she realizes it’s all wrong. Lulu’s cousin Mitch introduced her to the world of Renaissance Faires, and when she spies one at a time just when she needs an escape, she leaps into the welcoming environment of turkey legs, taverns, and tarot readers. The only drawback? Dex MacLean: a guitarist with a killer smile, the Casanova of the Faire… and her traveling companion for the summer.

Dex has never had to work for much in his life, and why should he? Touring with his brothers as The Dueling Kilts is going great, and he always finds a woman at every Faire. But when Lulu proves indifferent to his many plaid charms and a shake-up threatens the fate of the band, Dex must confront something he never has before: his future.

Forced to spend days and nights together on the road, Lulu’s interest in the kilted bad boy grows as he shows her a side of himself no one else has seen. The stresses of her old lifestyle fade away as she learns to trust her intuition and follow her heart instead of her head. But when her time on the road is over, will Lulu go with her gut, or are she and Dex destined for separate paths?

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC.

ADORED.

Good heavens, I LOVE THIS SERIES. I flipped out when my ARC approval came in and it did NOT disappoint.

I looooooved Dex. He was a rake with a soft side. There were perfectly well written moments of the way he looks at Lulu. The many times he leaned in to give her little forehead/hair kisses. How he pulled her into him anytime Lulu was near just to have her close. I CAN’T HANDLE THESE SITUATIONS. I am a puddle. It was the SWEETEST. What really makes a romance for me are all of those subtle moments. The moments where a character is saying you’re mine, I’m yours in that tender, loving way that encompasses all they’re feeling.

My tiny tidbit would be that there wasn’t very much romantic development until the halfway point. I would have even been cool with some good flirting and banter. But I gotta give it up to that second half. It really sealed the deal on this relationship.

I also really liked the journey that Louisa went on. From a mental breakdown at a Ren Faire, to finding a balance between work she was actually happy about doing and life around her, it was everything I love in a female main character. Going off the grid was a fun concept and I love how she just went for it. Lulu was all in for her summer fling and everything it came with.

I’m realizing I could just keep going with everything I loved, so I’ll say it again now, READ THIS SERIES [note*: not necessary to read the others, but it does help you get good background because all previous couples make an appearance here!!]. This book had it all and gave me the best feelings.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: 1-2 open door; low explicit, light innuendo
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: anxiety depiction

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