Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

meet cute

official blurb
Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran – quite literally – into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either… Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner. The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?

my blurb!
After a law school experience, steeped in sexual tension, ends with being backstabbed.  Two people are forced to coexist while trying to do what’s best in a custody agreement.

3.5 stars                                                             4 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
This book starts off laugh out loud funny.  I was laughing, cringe reading (lots of embarrassment) and smile reading throughout the first few chapters of this book.  Here’s a little snippet of funny exchanges:

“I don’t have time to shave regularly these days, let alone time for hot dates.” She sighs.  “I hate this whole online generation crap.  Why can’t I just meet a nice guy in a coffee shop, or the library or something?”
“I think you’d have to frequent coffee shops and library for that to happen, wouldn’t you?” I ask.

But don’t let the humor fool you.  This book isn’t entirely funny.  In fact, in the first 4 chapters- it starts to get pretty serious.  The overall plot of this book revolves around a custody dispute.  The writing, even when it wasn’t funny, still packed a good punch.  I included a snippet of this too (you’re welcome):

“Heartache is the worst affliction.  It robs a person of rationality, or logic, of forethought and patience.  It makes everything good painfully bright and magnifies the bad with an intensity that’s difficult to tolerate.”

Another thing in the pro column for me is their jobs.  The two main characters were both lawyers.  You got to see them in law school and then see them practicing different types of law.  I really enjoyed that whole aspect of the book.
The last chapter of the book was great so it definitely ended on a high note for me.  It felt a little disjointed from being laugh out loud funny to being heavy and not very funny at all.  But overall I enjoyed reading this and read it quickly!

what i didn't like
Okay, you know how I feel about names.  The main characters name was Daxton.  You read that correctly.  DAXTON.  The whole book, I kept thinking… how does that name even dawn on you to use? I’ve never even heard of that name before!  It did have a saving grace though because towards the latter end of the book we get to experience this funny exchange:

“Oh my God, Emme, look, Liam is waiting for you! Who’s with him? Oh! Oh! That’s Clark and Jackson and River.”
“Who the hell named these kids?”  I mutter.
“Your name is Daxton,” Emme points out.

Another thing I didn’t love was how predictable this book was.  I knew exactly what was going on in all of the plotlines- and in fact, ended up being a little annoyed that it took the characters so long to catch on.  It got to be a little bit stressful at times!
Speaking of stressful- when these characters get together it seems ethically unsound.  So I was pretty stressed throughout the book waiting for the shoe to drop on that part of the plot.
I think my biggest gripe was that this was titled Meet Cute and it’s not a cutesy book- but more of a heavy hitter.

while reading you should
Watch: Legally Blonde (because… lawyers)
Watch:  What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Siblings raising siblings storyline!)
Eat: Shepherd’s Pie

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Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

arc review

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official blurb
Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means. Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?) Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.) Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?) Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!) Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite? Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

my blurb!
A literal birthday clown decides that dating her high school crush and the towns bad boy will help her be taken more seriously.

2.75 out of 5

5 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
This book was a cute and funny romcom.  I chuckled to myself a few times while reading it.  The family dynamics were written really well. As the youngest child in my family, I liked reading about the siblings and their struggles to all be taken seriously.  My favorite part of the book was the girl gang.  The Just Us League was a crew of women supporting women and I can get behind that all day every day! I could tell as I was reading that there were going to be some other companion books in this series and when I finished the story, that was confirmed!  As I was scrolling through my kindle notes for the novel, I found quite a few funny lines highlighted.  This was a true romcom (and a steamy one)!  The amount of clown jokes in this, was perfect in every way.  I laughed a lot at Georgie’s humor. Also, her sister Bethany was awesome.  She definitely has to have her own book because she was amazing in every way.  I loved the scenes she was in.  Here’s a little snippet of humor to wet your pallet:

“You look like a live childbirth just went by in your Facebook feed.”

Funny right? Haha! I definitely busted out laughing when I read that line.

what i didn't like
There was a flaw with the whole plot.  It didn’t make any sense why Georgie would be taken more seriously as an adult by dating Travis.  He was a playboy… who dates a playboy and then is suddenly taken seriously?
There is a big scene regarding professing a relationship status.  That scene just wasn’t for me.  It perhaps has to do with my personal taste public displays of proposals. But oh my gosh I was cringing while I was reading it!
There was a sentiment in this book that was repetitive.  The reader was reminded that Georgie was attempting to show Travis that he was worthy of commitment.  Did I tell you he was worthy of commitment?  Travis, you are worthy of commitment!  Oh did you get it already? I did too.
Holy steam room steam level!  This book was STEAMY!!! I think a lot of romance readers are really gonna like that about it.  However, for my personal preferences, this was too steamy.
I couldn’t get a read on whether or not Travis was supposed to have an accent in the book.  That doesn’t really matter but he gave Georgie a nickname that they used THE WHOLE BOOK (in fairness I do not like cutesy nicknames in books. It rarely seems genuine to me) and that seemed like it was kind of more a southern style of talking.  I’m not sure.
Travis. Travis, Travis, Travis.  I just didn’t like him. Isn’t that the WORST in a romance read?  It’s not the writing of him, I just didn’t like his character.  I would NEVER have dated him.  He was super domineering and gave insane mixed signals. He was possessive and had a dirty bedroom mouth.  He was just kind of a douche.  I know, strong words but really how else do you describe someone like that?!

This book was not for me but honestly, I do think a lot of readers will really like it.  I would probably recommend it to a few friends who’s reading style I’m familiar with.

while reading you should
Do: write down your ultimate goals and dreams.  Find your support group that will encourage you to get there.
Eat: a big waffle breakfast!
Listen: God Only Knows by Brandi Carlile

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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official blurb
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection. With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

my blurb!
A guy on the Autism spectrum, who hasn’t dated, is convinced to house a potential mail order wife that his mom set him up with.

4 out of 5

4 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
So if you didn’t know, this book is a companion novel (in the same world and kind of a second book but also a stand alone book) as The Kiss Quotient.  The Kiss Quotient, I wasn’t in love with, but also it was one of the very first steamy romance novels I’d ever read.  So I am kind of convinced it would rank higher now that I’ve immersed myself into the romance reads culture.
I really liked this book!  I love love loved the main characters! This is told from two perspectives (dual POVs) and it made the book that much more enjoyable.  I loved both main characters and felt like I knew both of them and their thought processes well!
My/Esme, our female protagonist, was independent and determined.  She was, dare I say, scrappy and sexy.  She was kind and vulnerable.  Khai, our male protagonist, was so realistic.  He was kind, and sensitive.  He was considerate and funny.  Hoang wrote the dual perspectives very well and each chapter was so specifically different from the POVs- they never blended together.
At its core- this was the story of a female immigrant and a boy on the Autism spectrum.  I’ve said it multiple times but that won’t stop me from saying it now, romance novels are THE most diverse novels published right now.  (Try to change my mind!)
Lastly, this books acknowledgment section was epic.  I mentioned that in Sky in the Deep as well. I’m clearly a fan of a well written acknowledgment section.  (Come to think of it, I also love that part of Children of Blood and Bone).  The author explains how Esme/My ended up as the main character and… I mean, you just have to read it. It was amazing and made me love the book even more!

what i didn't like
This next part will be hard to explain without giving away any spoilers but I’m going to do my darndest!  This book ended with an Epilogue… which you know I love!  So why is it in the “didn’t like” section?  The epilogue took place FOUR years after the main portion of the book.  Let that sink in. We spend a lot of time with these characters and then we’re catapulted four years forward.  I wasn’t thrilled with the overall relationship status of Khai and Esme at this point.  I won’t go more into that, but if you’ve read it you know!

Overall I would easily recommend this book to romance readers.  It is on the higher end of steam level that I’m comfortable reading.  If you liked the first book in the set, The Kiss Quotient, I think you’ll like this book even better!

while reading you should
Listen: Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne
Eat: Authentic Vietnamese food!
Do:  Learn something new that you’ve always wanted to learn!

arc review

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The Hooker & The Hermit by Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway

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1 out of 5

5 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
There’s a section in this book when you feel as a reader that Annie should feel bad about keeping a secret.  Then her mentor brings down the “truth-of-the-matter” hammer.  It was a really cool perspective for me to read and I really enjoyed that part of the book.

what i didn't like
Wow this book was not for me.  After reading the steam level in this book, I feel like I should go back an edit some R.S. Grey books because there were definitely tame compared to this one.
What’s BDM? Is that the right term for the whole 50 shade of Grey vibe?  Okay I googled in haha! BDSM!  That was featured in this book. I felt like I had to skim so much of it! I was so disappointed about it, because I have really enjoyed Penny Reid books in the past.
Ronan, our main guy- he was possessive (why is this an attractive quality for romance readers?  This is not a good quality!).  He had anger issues.  He wanted control (in and out of the bedroom).  I didn’t feel like the couple ever loved each other, it was just a book written under the pretense of reading so that people can read gross sex scenes.  Too harsh? Well, I’m the one who read the darn thing and clearly I’m not thrilled about the time wasted haha.

while reading you should
Stop what you’re doing and walk this book over to the fireplace. Throw it in.

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The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey

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official blurb
From: JosephineKeller@LLDesigns.com
To: LilyNBlack@gmail.com
Subject: Justin Timberlake Nudes!

Lily, you predictable perv. I knew you’d open this email faster if I tempted you with a glimpse of JT’s “PP”. Well, put your pants back on and grab some bubbly because I have much better news to share. I GOT A JOB! As of tomorrow, I’ll be the new executive assistant at Lorena Lefray Designs. I am SO excited, but there’s one itty bitty problem: I won’t be Lorena’s assistant. I’ll be working for her older brother, Julian. I know what you’re thinking- “But Jo, what’s the problem?” Google him. Now. He’s the man in the fitted navy suit whose face reminds you that there’s hope yet for this cruel, ugly world. Keep scrolling…Do you see those dimples? Yup. That’s the Julian Lefray I will be reporting to tomorrow morning. Lord, help us all…
XO,
Jo

my blurb!
A pretty blogger gets a job working for a gorgeous interim CEO.

 

3.5 stars                                                         4.5 / 5 steam level

what i liked
R.S. Grey is a romcom queen. And while I may not want to reread all of her books, I have enjoyed them all and read them all super quickly.  First of all, Jo has my dream job- she is a professional blogger. I mean- YES PLEASE!  Secondly, she is hilarious.  Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you.

“The day before, I’d researched Lorena’s company while watching a marathon of murder mystery shows. Sure, I was now highly paranoid about getting kidnapped, but at least I felt prepared for my interview.”

Need more?

“Runner’ is a strong word. On occasion, I’ve been known to move slightly faster than a walking pace, but it’s not very often.”

Okay fine, I’ll do ONE more, but only because you asked so nicely.

“He didn’t even know the effect those dimples had on my girly parts. One word: Ijustgotpregnant. Yeah, that’s one word.”

I seriously laugh out loud so many times while I read her books! So many quotable lines. And I zoomed through the first half of this book!

what i didn't like
I know, I mentioned the first half of this book. Well the second half of this book was too long.  None of her books are really that long, but seriously, part way through this book I was ready for it to wrap up.
Her steam level is high.  But if you’re up for skimming those parts, OR if you don’t mind some hot tub steam levels – you will really enjoy her books!

while reading you should
Eat: Pizza (because, really, when should you NOT eat pizza?)
Watch: The Devil Wears Prada (feel free to skip the annoying boy drama scenes)
Listen:  The Oogum Boogum Song by Brenton Wood

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Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

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official blurb
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun. Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air. Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

my blurb!
Two friends who should be dating each other, but instead set one another up on blind dates.

4 out of 5                                                              4 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
I loved so much about this book. I know a lot of people might not like Hazel, she might stress them out a bit.  But I loved her. She was eccentric and blunt and quirky and Hazel.  She was definitely over the top but I wasn’t bothered by it at all.
This book was hilarious. I mean seriously, this was a laugh out loud funny book!  I’m coming to expect it from Christina Lauren and they have not let me down with this one! Okay, okay, I’ll include a randomly picked excerpt from the book just to prove it to you.

“I swear my mouth and brain are siblings who hate each other and give each other wedgies in the form of mortifying moments like this.”

I mean- it’s pretty darn good right?!
This book was like if Stargirl grew up and started dating.  And I was here for every minute of it.
Like the romance genre as a whole, this book didn’t disappoint me with diverse characters.  It featured characters that were Korean American and they were great!
Strong friendships were a big feature of this book. It was well written and overall a very fun book to read!
It ended with an epilogue! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- I LOVE an epilogue!!! It should be a requirement in every book! (I’m looking at you, One Day In December!)

what i didn't like
Now you’re looking at that list above and thinking to yourself, “Self, why didn’t she rank the book 5 sars with all of that positivity?”  Well, I will answer your question- I promise!
It was too long! I wanted it to wrap up sooner!
While I loved Hazel, she was too much.  There were multiple times where I felt like they had her character drag out the ending.   How long can someone possibly fight being with the person they’re actually in love with??

while reading you should
Do: clean up your apartment/house (because really, when don’t you need to do this?)
Eat: Pizza
Listen: Extraordinary by Liz Phair

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With This Heart by R.S. Grey

with this heart

 

official blurb
If someone had told me a year ago that I was about to fall in love, go on an epic road trip, ride a Triceratops, sing on a bar, and lose my virginity, I would have assumed they were on drugs. Well, that is, until I met Beckham.  Beck was mostly to blame for my recklessness. Gorgeous, clever, undeniably charming Beck barreled into my life as if it were his mission to make sure I never took living for granted. He showed me that there were no boundaries, rules were for the spineless, and a kiss was supposed to happen when I least expected. Beck was the plot twist that took me by surprise. Two months before I met him, death was knocking at my door. I’d all but given up my last scrap of hope when suddenly, I was given a second chance at life. This time around, I wasn’t going to let it slip through my fingers. We set out on a road trip with nothing to lose and no guarantees of tomorrow. Our road trip was about young, reckless love. The kind of love that burns bright. The kind of love that no road-map could bring me back from.

my blurb!
Never Been Kissed meets Return to Me in this steamy romcom.

5 out of 5                                                              4 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Can you believe I finally read another romance novel other than The Hating Game and I gave it 5 stars?! I know, it’s hard to believe. Okay let’s get into what I loved about this book!
I am sucker for movies/ books like this. I loved Never Been Kissed and I loved Return to Me, so I was so into the whole plot of this book.  It even had a bit of an Elizabethtown vibe with the road trip involved.  (Okay you got me, I actually didn’t love Elizabethtown, but there was something rewatchable about that movie and I’m not sure why.)
Moving on! I loved Beck (I didn’t love this nickname however, and will be referring to him as his full name from here on out – Beckham…you know by this point that I’m a name snob).  I personally picture Beckham as Adam Brody.  He was random, and full of life, spontaneous and kind. As Abby said about Beckham in the book “It’s hard fighting relentlessly quirky charm.
Abby (who I had a hard time picturing but ended up with a young Kirsten Dunst), was innocent and brave. She was driven yet lost, heartbroken but understanding.  I loved them together! Great couple alert! Oh, there’s no siren noise for that? Hmm… we’re going to have to work on that as a society.  (Side note, I ended up chatting with the author about who she pictured for Abby.  I mean, feel free to fangirl with me for a moment about me just randomly chatting up Rachel [Author R.S. Grey’s name].  She had a full pinterest board full of amazing photos of Alison Sudol. Google her and then read the book!).
This book, like all of R.S. Grey’s books, had me laughing out loud.  Here’s a few quotes that had me smile giggling…

“So you’re a stalker?” I asked with a hard stare. He smirked a knees-turning-to-jelly kind of smirk. “I prefer gravitationally linked by your presence.”

“He had texted back quickly again, and in that moment I decided Gossip Girl wasn’t actually all that accurate considering they had cast thirty-year-olds to play high schoolers.”

While this book was just as funny as Grey’s books normally are, I would consider this a romdrom primarily.
I read this book in less that 48 hours and have thought of it many times since.  I am going to be super upset when my kindle unlimited subscription ends in a few months because I have loved reading all of R.S. Grey’s books through KU! I need to get them all on hard copy!

what i didn't like
I already told you I didn’t like Beckham’s nickname that I had to read the entire book. But to be fair, I am a book name snob.  There’s nothing about his name that is unappealing but for some reason I just really like the full name of Beckham so the nickname seemed to rob it of its awesomeness.
I also wasn’t sure what Beckham initially found so extremely appealing about Abby, luckily Grey included a chapter written from Beckham’s perspective at the end of the novel. So, while I found that a negative while I was reading the book, it was rectified in the end. Therefore no negative points in the con column for this book!

while reading you should
Do: Plan and go on a road trip!
Listen: to this playlist I created on spotify for this book!
Eat: a mouth-watering burger.

This book is REQUIRED READING for romance book lovers! To check out my full list, click here!

when to read
This book is best read in the summer during the hottest months.  But because it’s required reading, you can read it anytime!

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