Book Review

ARC Book Review: Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Carley Fortune
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Release Date: May 10th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC.

BINGE WORTHY.

These types of reads both haunt me and make me the happiest. Why? Because the format of dual timelines where you’re not quite sure what caused the fallout causes LACK OF SLEEP. I binged this in a day chasing down the reason Percy and Sam fell apart and hoping they’d find their way back together.

It was an interesting tiny tidbit that when they ran into each other again there wasn’t immediate animosity. I really liked that they were able to already find some common ground to reconnect and rehash what happened between them.

The trope of childhood friends to lovers was written beautifully. I loved the sweet friendship that started to become longing looks and brief touches to finally saying OH HEY I LIKE YOU. Ah, young love. Percy and Sam definitely get in their own ways sometimes, but somehow it was endearing. Fortune’s ability to craft this story was amazing. All the mess that can come with first love and rekindling that love years later had me glued to my book.

I do stand by that I just didn’t love the last big piece of information needed to answer why there’s been so many years apart. I AM grateful that it was handled really well. The drama had already been thrown down so at this point, I thought the characters all approached it in a realistic way. Which all led to a sweet ending.

Great read, highly recommend. Perfect for summertime!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: multiple brief open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a parent(s), infidelity, on page panic attacks, anxiety

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Set on You by Amy Lea

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Amy Lea
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Release Date: May 10th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A gym nemesis pushes a fitness influencer to the max in Amy Lea’s steamy debut romantic comedy.

Curvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.

Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents’ engagement party.

In the lead up to their grandparents’ wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, she just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC.

SLOW BURN SWOON.

This was an amazing debut!! Incredibly heart warming and full on grin inducing. Crystal and Scott will bring the house down.

I loved Crystal. I loved so many of the conversations and topics she spoke about in regards to her identity, fitness, health and more. It was like the author was in my mind reminding me and telling me things I needed to hear. As someone who struggles (and I mean who doesn’t?) with many of the themes I loved the way this was approached.

Now, the ROMANCE. Ohhhh my gosh. SWOON. I didn’t know how much I would adore a love story primarily set-up around a gym. It was the best. I loved the instant charged connection and the subtle ways these two clearly showed their growing feelings. It wasn’t quite as angsty as I was thinking it would be, but it was gosh dang sweet. I loved the development and the banter. All of these tiny moments amounting into tender confessions. Scott Ritchie is the kind of love interest I will never tire of seeing in a romance.

A lot of the ending scenes were wonderful. I had a minor issues with some aspects, but I am all for a grand gesture so I was able to look past [most] of it. Not to mention, throwing in an it’s always been you trope had to be the icing on the cake. I can not handle another moment with Crystal and Scott because I will be in a puddle on the floor.

Please tell me Amy Lea has more books coming??

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: very mild
  • Romance: a few open door with low explicitness
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: fatphobia, cyber bullying, racism, fitness/diet culture, cancer

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Mr. Wrong Number by Lynn Painter

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Lynn Painter
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Things get textual when a steamy message from a random wrong number turns into a thrilling anonymous relationship in this hilarious rom-com by Lynn Painter.

Bad luck has always followed Olivia Marshall…or maybe she’s just the screw-up her family thinks she is. But when a What are you wearing? text from a random wrong number turns into the hottest, most entertaining–albeit anonymous–relationship of her life, she thinks things might be on the upswing….

Colin Beck has always considered Olivia his best friend’s annoying little sister, but when she moves in with them after one of her worst runs of luck, he realizes she’s turned into an altogether different and sexier distraction. He’s sure he can keep his distance, until the moment he discovers she’s the irresistible Miss Misdial he’s been sort of sexting for weeks–and now he has to decide whether to turn the heat up or ghost her before things get messy.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

WITTY & SMILE INDUCING.

I really enjoy Lynn Painter’s books. I love the pacing and how when I look down at how far I’ve read I’m shocked at the rate the pages flew by. Better Than the Movies is still my all-time fav, Mr. Wrong Number was good, but left me wanting in some areas.

Olivia was relatable and ridiculous all in the same breath. I laughed at some of her antics, yet just like Colin, I saw the deeper layers of her personality too. She brought in comedic relief and I smiled many times throughout my read. I ADORED Colin. I’m realizing I love a good brother’s best friend trope. This delivered in that department. Plenty of angst, amazing banter, and heartfelt confessions.

Some of what I struggled with were the other tropes: friends with benefits/this is just a fling kinda vibe. I’ve never loved those plot choices and this was no different. I wish there was a bit more of true relationship dynamic before they jumped between the sheets. If you like a faster burn, this one’s for you! Once we got some feelings established, I was really attached to these two.

There were two miscommunications as the primary romance conflicts. And *sigh* this was not my jam. I understand Olivia’s reaction, but wish she had taken a moment to be upset, and then another moment to go, maybe I should actually let him explain first. It caused unnecessary fights and drama. Don’t get me wrong, the bit of groveling and grand gestures near the end were sweet, there just should’ve been a different angle.

An enjoyable read for me even through the thick of things I didn’t love. I adore Painter’s writing style with dual POV and the humorous quality she adds. I love grinning at my book and swooning over a love interest with dreamy eyes (and a Ryan Gosling look-a-like). I’m excited to read the next story in this world!!

Overall Audience Notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a lot, strong
  • Romance: multiple brief open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: catfishing

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 23rd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

I called a five-star from chapter ONE. That’s how convinced I was this was going to be a great read and y’all, IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. It gave me allllllll the Below Deck vibes minus without being over the top dramatic (like the show). I am here for the romance between a stewardess and a Hot Yacht Chef.

There were many themes at play here and they interconnected beautifully throughout Jo’s story. Jo is working through the grief of losing her nephew. When her two nieces show up for the summer she struggles to approach the topic and discussions surrounding him. Jo made some mistakes in this arena, but also really grew as a character. The dialogue and open apologies had me tearing up and loving Jo all the more.

Jo is approaching 30 and has a difficult time opening up and letting in others. Allowing herself to love and be loved as she deserves. ENTER ALEX. From kissing a hot stranger in a bar to finding out he’s your co-worker, BRING ON THE FORCED PROXIMITY. The tension from these two are wild. I don’t know how many times I shouted to KISS HER ALREADY. Then I got one of those arguments turning into confessions of love and I am swooning. Absolutely done for. There’s no spice and I didn’t miss it for one second. Alex and Jo were this charming, real-life couple I dream for. Did I mention Alex is a single Dad to an amazing teen Greyson? I loved this duo and how seamlessly they fit into Jo and her nieces lives.

Y’all. I couldn’t get enough of this South Florida love story. Weaving many plot lines together that had me laughing, tearing up, and devouring this story. Consider this a must add to your TBR. I am off the roof excited for the next story!!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: death of a teen (off page, but is discussed often), loss of a parent (prior to book, but again, discussed), parental abandonment, intense guilt, depictions of grief and depression

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