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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Book Review

Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 14th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

ABSOLUTELY ADORED.

You might have seen that this book has A LOT OF HYPE.

THE HYPE IS WORTH IT.

I feel like I should just end my review there.

But, I’ll dive in a little bit deeper. The grump and sunshine trope was perfect. Adam and Olive were off the charts in banter and forced proximity moments where you know they’re both feeling it. I couldn’t get enough of each interaction they had. Those coffee dates were EVERYTHING. Not to mention I love a good, who did this to you, moment and TLH definitely had one for the books. Adam is the grumpy cinnamon roll of my bookish romance dreams and wow would I have loved getting chapters from his POV too.

I did notice some repetitive phrasing (like how many times Adam called Olive a smart-a**), and the spice was eh for me. But those were minor complaints in comparison to the whole. This had everything I love about romance books. Combining an engaging plot that supports the romance + plenty of times where swooning was the only applicable emotion. All of my heartstrings were tugged by the last page (because who doesn’t love a good confession moment?!).

The setting in STEM was amazing and the side characters greatly supported the plot. Every single thing just worked for this book. I consumed it because it’s nothing short of one of my top romance reads for 2021.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to very open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual harassment, sexism, death of a parent recounted

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

SO SWEET.

I am all over this series by Jen DeLuca. They’re adorable and easy to enjoy and get a few smiles out of me.

In differentiating from Well Met, this book follows Stacey as she goes through a lot of big life decisions. Some cards were handed to her unplanned and now she’s found herself stuck in a slump, wondering what to do next. I struggled with the way Stacey talked about herself at times. I liked that she had a good evolution over the book about finding her way. Learning to take those leaps of faith and following something you know you love.

Okay, Daniel? TOTES ADORBS. I mean, from the get go. Absolutely loved him. So flippin’ cute. He warmed my heart 100x over and was such a match for Stacey. I liked the way the initial conflict (trying to avoid spoilers) happened between them. The communication and understanding that went into seeing both sides of the story really set me up for loving this ship. And this was a continual theme that helped

Another magical setting at a Ren Fest and I am once again wishing I could go to one this year! I love the writing and magic I feel between everyone. Getting to see Simon and Emily again was also absolutely amazing. I did like Well Met more, ONLY because it had more of an enemies to lovers vibe (which is my favorite trope ever). This is more friends to lovers and I found it very sweet watching Daniel and Stacey fall in love.

And low-key, STOKED for the next book in this series and the fact it’s about Mitch and April.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little (strong when used)
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a full chapter open door scene

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