Come on in, explore and, hopefully, discover something new.
Here you'll find reviews for what I'm reading. As a note, my Romance reviews are featured in author Pax Sinclair's romance e-newsletter, which you can learn more about and subscribe to here.
5 Stars = My kind of perfect 4 Stars = Liked it A LOT 3 Stars = It's okay 2 Stars = Struggled 1 Star = Ugh
May 2022 Reviews
Beauty and the Baller (Comtemporary Fake Dating)
by Ilsa Madden-Mills
An NFL quarterback turned small-town coach gets sacked by a Texas beauty queen in this swoony, passionate romance from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills.
Gorgeous, talented, and brilliant, NFL quarterback Ronan Smith has the world in his hands. But after losing his career and his fiancée in a car accident, he falls into a pit of grief and bad choices. When a mysterious girl shows up to his party, he feels drawn to her and makes her his…for one night.
Former beauty queen Nova Morgan is on a mission. Scantily clad as a princess from a galaxy far, far away, she sneaks into a high-profile party to capture the attention of her favorite quarterback. But her hopes crash after an awful one-night stand.
Fast-forward two years. Broke and desperate, Nova returns home to Blue Belle, Texas, where, by a cosmic twist of fate, her broody neighbor is none other than Ronan, the shiny new football coach everyone adores. But he has no idea who she is.
The booster club keeps shoving women at Ronan to keep him in town. His solution? He proposes fake dating to Nova. But things heat up for real under these Friday-night lights when he realizes she’s the one who slipped away.
Has this jaded beauty found her forever baller, or will his past keep them apart?
Beauty and the Baller is a mix of the expected and a refreshingly delightful take on fake dating. I think this trope can be difficult to pull off without it feeling forced and the setup for this was well done with needs from both of them to find fake dating an advantageous situation. This was a story that was cringe-y and simultaneously entertaining. It probably is closer to a 3.5 star-rating for me, but I feel like a lot of people would enjoy this story and be all bout Ronan.
Nova is a strong MC. There were times when I wavered on her, as she wasn't so different from the other women vying for Ronan's attention, she just hid a little bit better. The scene of their first confrontation after Nova moves back to Blue Belle was a bit tired for me - the one where she charges into his party with no makeup and a T-shirt on and tells him off in front of everyone, which is supposed to make her a badass that doesn't need to dress up to be beautiful or throw herself at a man to feel self-worth, but it's been so many times. I also don't like how to highlight how steady and good she is her character has to judge all the other younger women there as slutty and pathetic.
I liked the multiple tension points with both dealing with heavy baggage from their pasts while trying to navigate a nosy, southern town with neighbors trying to set them both up with anyone with a pulse while working behind the scenes to arrange their professional lives as well.
This book had moments of pure charm and humor, a normalcy and realism in the characters that made them relatable and likable. The chemistry was well done, with some scorching hot scenes and poignant emotional turmoil. This is a solid summer read.
Always (MM College Romance)
by Loren Leigh
I avoid him.
Every time Kepler Quinn steps into a room, I get the hell out.
He does . . . something to me. When those discerning gray eyes flick towards me, his brow rising in a silent greeting, there’s a tightening of my abs. A zapping hum quivering low along my spine.
There are about a million reasons it shouldn’t be what the little voice in the back of my head insists . . . a crush.
Because Kepler isn’t just some random guy. He’s my brother’s best friend. He’s also my TA for physics this semester. And also . . . a guy. I’ve never held strongly onto being straight, but I’ve also never had this sun-scorching need for another guy before.
But I can’t avoid him when we’re suddenly in the back stacks of the library—alone—nothing but the smell of old books and softly falling dust around us. And instead of walking away from him, I let out the two words that burn in my throat:
Always is a swoony M/M college romance with a bisexual awakening and sizzling chemistry. It’s the first in the Indigo Falls College series, a standalone, and features a happy ending.
This book makes me so deeply happy. I love the unique characters, the distinct storyline, the undeniable chemistry, the potent tension, the 'real'ness of the issues and the personalities. I could not put this down. Jin and Kepler are everything.
I love it when there is authentic language included into stories. Jae Jin is half Korean and this was a very present part of him and his family dynamic and it felt believable by how the author wove it into his American upbringing in small town Colorado. This was a beautiful story with a lot of passion.
One of my favorite elements of this story was the inclusion of 심쿵 (simkung) – defined as a "heartthrob (huge crush) - a type of emotional heart attack you feel when you see or think about your crush or someone you find extremely attractive."
It starts with this feeling, this connection between them that neither knows has always been two-sided. Kepler is brave and confident and pursues what he wants but never thought he'd have with desperate honesty. There weren't the traditional insecurities that got in their way, and that was SO refreshing! The library scene lit me up in every way, from Kepler's confession to the way Jin just went for it, grabbing the chance with both hands...literally :)
I liked the complexity of the relationships between Jae and his mom, and Jae and Shin. The push and pull felt balanced and genuine. It was a powerful glimpse into the life of someone loving an addict, without that superseding everything else. It was easy to see how a pattern of hope and disappointment begins and continues.
There was some angst in this, but it fit and was built so well into the story. It pulled out so many emotions and felt choreographed with precision. There wasn't anything that was there just to give readers the traditional storyline ups and downs. I cannot say enough good things about this book. And if you read it and love it (or even just like it a little), please rate it and leave a review. Indie authors, in particular, need that support so much, especially when they knock it out of the park. Note, that there is another book coming out that will focus on a different couple: London and Vain!! Ummm, yes, please!