Book Review

Book Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Release Date: May 3rd, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An insightful, delightful new novel from the number-one New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming….

Nora Stephens’ life is books – she’s read them all – and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away – with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again – in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow – what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

EXPECTATIONS.

I’m going to start with saying that this felt more like a book about sisters than it did a romance. And if I had known that prior I think I would have enjoyed it more. For too long I sat there wondering WHERE IS THE ROMANCE.

Admittedly, the romance did show up (after 25%) and I was charmed. I adored Nora and Charlie. I was laughing so much at the absolute perfect banter and chemistry between them. The forced proximity between the two was one of my favorite aspects. I liked the small town setting and the slow unraveling of feelings that heated up right on cue.

The main plot with Nora’s sister, Libby grew on me [though, good heavens stop calling her Sissy]. I think both showed some improvement as they reconnected. I liked seeing Nora’s perspective change and really diving into why she feels the way she does (and the responses it causes). These two have the kind of bond I love seeing in sibling books.

Not my favorite of Emily Henry’s books, but still a fantastic read. I look forward to more!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple brief open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a parent, anxiety/panic attacks, stroke (parent, not on page), grief and loss depiction

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Book Review

Book Review: Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: ★★★☆ (3.5)
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 23rd, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

DISAPPOINTED.

Yeah, probably my biggest let down of 2022 in regards to contemporary romances I was excited for.

Why the super heavy agenda dumping? I could write an entire list of everything that was shoved in my face over and over again. It’s cool to have opinions and to incorporate those, but I don’t want to feel like it’s overtaking the fact that I picked up a romance to read. Not the news.

When Levi and Bee were talking and hanging out in those very few rare moments, I LOVED IT. Give me more of that please. I liked them as a couple when I actually got to see the development of their relationship. There was a substantial focus on the physicality of their relationship over everything else and those scenes were plain awkward.

Bee’s friend Rocio was fun. I did like her Wednesday Addams vibes. She added the right kind of touch to the story over everything else that was happening.

The MISCOMMUNICATION. It made me think about putting it down during the first half. Some is fine, it happens. But flagrant use of eh, I’ll tell him later, when you have a chance to clear the air annoy me beyond belief.

And the end???? Did I miss what genre I was reading and we jumped into romantic suspense? That was wildly left field and clearly out of place. I had to flip the last page back and forth a few times because of the abrupt ending too.

Clearly I have (and can continue) a lot of thoughts of this one. TLH is still my golden child favorite and I’ll continue to reread that one. LOTB on the other hand convinced me to no longer pre-order Hazelwood’s books.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: three open door; med-high explicit
  • Violence: moderate
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexism, workplace sexual harassment mentioned, death of a parent recounted, attempted murder, gun violence

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Luck and Last Resorts (Love, Lists and Fancy Ships #2) by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 9th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

They have a second chance at love, but there are some rough seas ahead in the new contemporary romance from the acclaimed author of Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships.

Commitment-phobe Nina Lejeune lives by two rules:
1. Always have fun.
2. Don’t rely on anyone but yourself.
The first rule is easy; the second, she’s only broken once.

Ten years after fleeing home, Nina is the chief stewardess on the super yacht Serendipity, single by choice, and perfectly content with how life has turned out.

But Nina’s ex-coworker and old flame, Irish chef Ollie Dunne, isn’t so happy with the status quo. One year after leaving yachting, he’s returned as the Serendipity’s chef with an ultimatum: if Nina continues to deny she’s in love with him by the end of this charter season, he’ll go back to Ireland for good.

Nina and Ollie’s shared secret from their past threatens to shipwreck not only their relationship, but the entire boat. But as their connection grows amidst chaotic guests and crew drama, could there be smooth sailing in their future?

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC.

THIS STORY Y’ALL.

I was told the angst would be high. THEY DID NOT LIE. Off the charts angst, which is my absolute favorite. FAAAAAAVORITE.

Nina and Ollie are such gems. I loved the flashback chapters that were perfectly placed to give credence to the flair of the second chance trope. And I must mention, HE FALLS FIRST. Ohhhhh how I live for that sub-trope. I was smitten with Ollie up and down, around and around, FOREVER. I LOVE HIM. He is swoony, and kind, the best banter and when he stands up for what he deserves? YES. YES. YES.

My girl Nina, I admit, made me want to shake her a few times. I understood a lot of the feelings and internal struggles. I guess, for me, it was dragged on just a *touch* too long? But that was my only minor complaint. Otherwise, Nina was on this incredible journey that forced her to confront many things that needed to be knocked down. I loved these two together.

All of the sub plots and side characters were everything my Below Deck loving soul could not get enough of. The perfect dose of drama, THE CAPTAIN, glimpses of Jo and Alex? Everything flowed and fit in so well. I didn’t feel like there was wasted space, just glorious writing and a story that I couldn’t put down.

READ IT.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: one vague and brief open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: identity theft/fraud of a minor, remembrances of domestic abuse, smoking

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Historical Fiction + Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 24th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Isabel Perez travels to Barcelona to save her sister Beatriz, she discovers a shocking family secret in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s new novel.

Barcelona, 1964. Exiled from Cuba after the revolution, Isabel Perez has learned to guard her heart and protect her family at all costs. After Isabel’s sister Beatriz disappears in Barcelona, Isabel goes to Spain in search of her. Joining forces with an unlikely ally thrusts Isabel into her sister’s dangerous world of espionage, but it’s an unearthed piece of family history that transforms Isabel’s life.

Barcelona, 1936. Alicia Perez arrives in Barcelona after a difficult voyage from Cuba, her marriage in jeopardy and her young daughter Isabel in tow. Violence brews in Spain, the country on the brink of civil war, the rise of fascism threatening the world. When Cubans journey to Spain to join the International Brigades, Alicia’s past comes back to haunt her as she is unexpectedly reunited with the man who once held her heart.

Alicia and Isabel’s lives intertwine, and the past and present collide, as a mother and daughter are forced to choose between their family’s expectations and following their hearts.

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC.

LOVED THIS.

I have been a fan of Cleeton’s since her first historical fiction book came out, and once again I completely enamored with a sweeping story of loss, love, and choosing your path. I truly loved getting Isabel’s story. She was an incredible main character. I like that she stuck to her personal truths, but allowed her self room for growth within them. Making the harder decision to find HER happiness and being the woman that she’s had to stifle for so long.

Interspersed were other POV chapters (one mentioned in the synopsis and one not!). It was really great not to have these chapters overwhelm Isabel’s own story. They drifted in at the right moments to add more background and understanding for present characters and found ways to pull at my heartstrings.

The love stories interwoven were romantic and sweet. I love the way Cleeton builds these in such a short time where I continually find myself reading with intense focus because I MUST HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. And while there’s a rise and fall to that ending, it’s good. It’s lovely. And it’s what sealed the deal on another incredible read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: closed door
  • Violence: mild blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: war theme, air raids, teen pregnancy, infidelity, divorce, gun violence

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