Book Review

Book Review: The Belle of Belgrave Square (Belles of London #2) by Mimi Matthews

Rating: ★★★★★
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 406 pages
Author: Mimi Matthrews
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 11th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A London heiress rides out to the wilds of the English countryside to honor a marriage of convenience with a mysterious and reclusive stranger.

Tall, dark, and dour, the notorious Captain Jasper Blunt was once hailed a military hero, but tales abound of his bastard children and his haunted estate in Yorkshire. What he requires now is a rich wife to ornament his isolated ruin, and he has his sights set on the enchanting Julia Wychwood.

For Julia, an incurable romantic cursed with a crippling social anxiety, navigating a London ballroom is absolute torture. The only time Julia feels any degree of confidence is when she’s on her horse. Unfortunately, a young lady can’t spend the whole of her life in the saddle, so Julia makes an impetuous decision to take her future by the reins—she proposes to Captain Blunt.

In exchange for her dowry and her hand, Jasper must promise to grant her freedom to do as she pleases. To ride—and to read—as much as she likes without masculine interference. He readily agrees to her conditions, with one provision of his own: Julia is forbidden from going into the tower rooms of his estate and snooping around his affairs. But the more she learns of the beastly former hero, the more intrigued she becomes…

OH MY GOSH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH.

I don’t feel like I can accurately put into words how much I loved this book. One of those “no notes” situations where gosh dang I am in a book slump over it.

This is now one of my favorite regency romances and one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings I have come across. Add in MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE and I am SOLD. The entire book was filled with alllllllll of the swoon. I was a puddle over Jasper and his story and how he wooed Julie. It has some instant attraction vibes that flat out worked beautifully. It may seem low angst but I felt everything dang feeling watching these two come together.

I wish I had a physical/digital copy (I read the audiobook) to highlight many passages. Matthews creates gorgeous stories that melt your soul and make you fall in love with the characters. I loved the way Julia stood up for herself and found two strong feet to stand out with the faith of Jasper behind her. And I loved that she was shy AND strong.

The plot with the children and family and friends pushed the main romantic plot line perfectly. I am in awe of this read. It was stunning. I’m writing this review right after finishing it and I really just want to yell at everyone TO GO READ IT NOW PLEASE.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: very vague fade to black / closed door
  • Violence: low
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: physical, emotional, and psychologically abusive parents, grief, recounting war themes

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Book Review

Book Review: The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Karina Halle
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 31st, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An ordinary summer goes royally awry when a prince and princess move next door, bringing their handsome bodyguard with them, from New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle.

Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day–avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.

And she’s happy with how things are–really–until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she’s a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person’s fairy tale is an ordinary woman’s nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison’s no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who’s sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.

But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she’ll need more than Harrison’s strong arms to shield her–she’ll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they’re willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.

I LIKED THE ROMANCE.

Which is a positive because this is a contemporary romance. The surrounding plot ended up being meh.

We have the quirky heroine who’s a bit of a hot mess who somehow ends up living next to the fictional versions of Harry & Meghan. While I do like the idea of the royals being a part of this story, I think it played waaaaay too heavily into being clones. So much so the characters from the book aren’t even memorable. I wanted them to feel like their own people.

The romance was charming. I’m not I’ve ever read a body guard trope? So that was definitely new and fun for me! There was plenty of tension and I did think the chemistry was there. I could have used some more time with just them rather than sitting over at the royals house all of the time, but it is what it is. I do like how Piper and Harrison’s story wrapped up.

I just disconnected from this story a lot. Some subjects felt preachy, like the push for not hating romance novels. Which, I mean, I’m reading a ROMANCE NOVEL, so, clearly, not against them (nor am I in general in anyway, romance all day every day). There was this continual by-line that there’s no need to hate romance novels and it came up so often I was getting frustrated. Just give me the romance.

Anywho, I digress, the book was fine. I liked how quick of a read it was and the HEA. I needed more from the surrounding stories and characters (only her Mom had a true personality, everyone else was boring). I am curious what the next in this series will be like!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to multiple open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: cheating recounted, anxiety, c-PTSD, a parent with multiple mental health disorders

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Book Review

Book Review: Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 11th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.

In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.

Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk.

LOVABLE STORY.

Another wonderful romance from Solomon. I’ve been itching to get my hands on it and it did not disappoint. This wasn’t an all out favorite, but a consistently good read that I would easily recommend to others.

I like that this was incredibly sweet and realistic. This isn’t some wild goose chase type of romance. The build-up and conversations felt connective and deep. Featuring Jewish representation, complex family dynamics and some Parent Trap antics, it’s a home run on many fields.

The depiction of Ari’s depression was not shied away from. I liked the nuanced aspects of how it affected her day to day life, alongside her relationships and who she felt she was as a person. I have felt many of those same feelings and the vulnerability she showed in learning how to discuss it with loved ones and also acknowledging her need for therapy and medication were portrayed well.

Creating that connection with Russell was so dang tender. I LOVED them together. Such a match and very swoony every time he called her weather girl. I loved that he didn’t have the typical male body type for a romance and how that was discussed as well. Each navigated new waters of openness as Russell and Ari grew together. I would have loved a bit more angst, but honestly, can’t really complain. This was a beautiful romance that I highly enjoyed.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: two long open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: many depictions of depression, parent with depression, toxic work environment

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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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