Nothing about being a librarian prepared Thuy Nguyen for such a wide variety of casseroles. Or life in a small town. Or becoming a farmer. But what can she do when her catastrophe-prone best friend begs her for help? After all, Maddy has always been there for Thuy. It’s time to return the favor. It’s simple really, all she has to do is: learn everything about farming ASAP, save her BFF’s family business from disaster, and avoid being caught staring at Maddy’s biker brother, and his muscles, and his smile, and his soulful, sexy eyes. Oh yeah, and she should definitely not fall in love with him. Easy, right? . . . Right.
(I didn’t get far enough into the book to give it an accurate steam rating)
Drill was not striking my fancy physically or personality wise. I’m not into the iron wraiths (reminder that this is the motorcycle club in this Peenyverse)! I just don’t like the whole motorcycle club (MC) thing in general- and unfortunately one of our main characters is an integral part of the MC.
Thuy brought the diversity in the book- she’s from NorCal (heyoh, I see you my old stomping grounds!). She has a complicated past (though I never got far enough to discover what it was), and she is Asian. From what I read from her (other than her attraction to Drill…which I did not get at all) I liked her.
The main reason I decided to DNF (did not finish) this book was that I simply couldn’t connect with it. By the time I finished chapter ten, I had made notes that there were too many redundant sentiments or sentences that I couldn’t move past. Also it was clear where the Drill MC storyline was going. (With the MC using him for money and him not wanting to go through with their plan but feeling obligated- and I couldn’t sit through that). You know how I feel about my protagonists needing a LOT of gumption! A lot of gumption.
So alas, I was not the right reader for this book unfortunately. But if you enjoy motorcycle clubs and the Pennyverse (smartypants romances) then this one could still be for you!
It’s hard to get revenge without getting a rap sheet. After Tempest Cassidy walks in on her husband banging her high school nemesis, her whole world gets turned upside down. She goes from being known as the Duchess of Muffins to the town crazy. Her new MO: revenge. Eventually, Tempest grows weary being arrested. Yet what choice does she have? If she’s not angry, then she’s simply . . . sad. Just as she decides to get her life back on track, in walks Cage Erickson, the new bouncer at the local strip club. He’s scary-handsome and the polar opposite of her ex. She’s attracted to him, but she’s not looking for a rebound. He’s attracted to her, but he’s not looking for a serious relationship. So, they agree to be friends. But when lines get blurred in the friend zone, will they both get burned? Or will it be a TKO?
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level (I had a hard time deciding between 4 and 5 steam level here if that helps anyone!)
I liked our leading lady, Tempest, a lot and her struggles were real. I felt her anger and identified with her quick temper. I mean I’ve never been in jail or burned someone’s clothes in my driveway, so I guess identify is a strong word. But I was so angry with her and her situation that I felt like I could identify with her.
I liked getting to see more of Hank in this book. You also get some Jenn overlap (Tempest works at one of Jenn’s bakeries!). This bakery book (compared to the first one) featured a lot more baking and it made me want to make ALL of the cupcakes!!
Let’s talk about our leading man. Cage. Cage, Cage, Cage… I didn’t love his chapters. He had a repetitive mindset. His sexual innuendos got old. Like really old. I could start a sentence and roll my eyes until I got a headache. It just seemed like I could have removed quite a few of his chapters and still have gotten the gist of the story.
My biggest problem was that Tempest still seemed to be pretty darn attached and hurting from her first love while still realizing she was in love with someone else. Someone could tell me this is realistic but even if it is, I didn’t like reading about it that way.
Overall, it was a quick read in the SmartyPants Romance series!
Listen to: Loretta Lynn
Do- turn down the invitation for your high school reunion. Seriously… Nothing good will come from going.
Naomi Winters will be forty–soon-ish–and she’s only been with one man. One night. One time. Long ago. She believes everything happens for a reason, and the universe spoke about Nathan Ryder. Nathan Ryder isn’t the same man who hightailed his bike out of Green Valley eighteen years ago. As a rule breaker, women are one area he acts a fool. Case in point…the local librarian. He can’t get a read on her, but she’s one risk he’s willing to take. Again. What do an eccentric librarian and a sexy silver biker have in common? More than you think. The due date on their love might not be expired after all.
🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level
Our main girl, Naomi, is thought to be a witch in the town. She would clarify that she is, in fact, Wiccan. And then the the whole book we will read about this one zillion times. I think the overall point was to stress that she was an outsider but I was not into the repetitiveness of this storyline.
The couple was written as a second chance romance for people in their forties-ish. But I rolled my eyes at their attraction level and the understanding of their feelings- not to mention their communication. It felt like they were still in high school and I didn’t love that at all.
You know from reading my reviews of The Winston Brothers series that my least favorite part about the books has to do with the motorcycle gang- The Iron Wraiths. This book had a lot of storyline about the iron wraiths. That was overall the biggest overlap from the smartypants universe to this book- which was a bummer for me. If you enjoyed that part about the Winston Brothers then you will probably like this book more than I did.
I got to 90% of this book and then read two other books before I finished the last ten percent- that’s how little I was invested in it.
I did like the brief snippets of seeing the Winston brothers and hearing about Bethany Winston’s effect onto Naomi’s life. I liked the side story with Naomi’s sisters and am hoping to get some more of her story in another book!
I think this book will appeal to readers who like the iron wraith storyline and who enjoy second chance romances. Overall I wasn’t the right reader for this particular Smartypants Romance. Oh well, onto the next!
Where does this fall in the Knitting/Winston timeline?
This book takes place after Roscoe’s book (Dr. Strange Beard) and potentially after Billy’s book (Beard Necessities)
The first rule of book club. You don’t talk about book club. Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. Welcome to the Bromance Book Club. Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level
I recently had someone tell me they would love to be warned about the language in a novel- whether it be romance or otherwise! (For crass talk in romance novels, see the breakdown of my steam ratings on the side of my blog!) So I’ll start with mentioning that F-bombs start dropping in this book around the 12% mark.
Now I know that this book as been all over bookstagram for a book that people are loving. I obviously didn’t love it. Let’s get into it, shall we?
First of all- I read this as an ebook and there was really difficult formatting- the chapters should tell you who’s talking! But this is an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) so that could change before publication occurs.
Early on in the book we are treated to a scene of two women attempted to take down a wall in their house. And let me just say that this scene is really insulting to women everywhere. They’re using the sledge hammer on a wall just with drywall and they’re barely getting a hole in it. I’m sorry, WHAT?! It’s drywall! You could punch it with your fist and make a hole in it!
Okay, I’m moving on from that obvious lack of research into another point. This book takes place in Franklin, TN. It is mentioned numerous times that Franklin is a small town. Franklin is not all about small town lifestyle. How many times is she going to mention this allegedly being a small town?! Seriously, I go to Franklin every year. It’s not small. Research I am telling you!
Overall this book went on too long. I really didn’t like the whole “grand gesture” part. To be fair I’m not sure that I’m ever into that storyline (with the exception of Well Met).
Lastly this book featured something that became repetitive and a bit formulaic. You get to read a chapter in the fictional historical romance that Gavin is reading… which basically foreshadows EVERY future chapter for the real life couple. That got old really fast for me.
I did a lot of laughing out loud as the men explained their romance book club. Also these men are WOKE! I love their breakdown of romance books how feminist they are! This is the definite highlight of this book and why I think so many people are raving about it! It literally tells you what is so darn amazing about this genre and why people need to stop being so judgemental about an entire genre of literature.
This is book one of a series (featuring great covers btw. The second cover was recently revealed) but I wasn’t that wrapped up in the story. I might pick up the series sometime but for now I’ll keep moving on with my TBR pile.
Steven Thompson had a bad year. A string of mean, kinky (the alarming kind, not the good kind), and crazy dating debacles combined with a boss who appears to be experiencing male-prenatal-psychosis means Steven’s stress levels are high. They’re so high, he’s decided to quit dating and focus instead solely on his job. Until he meets Dr. Ken Miles. Doctor Ken Miles is having a fantastic year. His hard work is paying off in a big way… professionally. But his social life? Not so much. Until he meets Steven Thompson. Steven isn’t so sure about Dr. Miles, but Ken is one hundred percent certain about Mr. Thompson. And even though both men know full well that the key to getting what you want out of life is hard work, they can’t seem to make them—together—work. Will they ever get on the same page? Or just keep sticking to the same old script?
sexual assault (including description of flashbacks) & stalking
Looking for lead character in the LGBT community? This book is for you!
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level
Well, this book was stressful for me to read. A lot of that had to do with trigger warnings – and I really shouldn’t have finished this book. But alas this is why reviews are important and trigger warnings can help other people!
I did like this book better than Weight Expectations, which is book one in the Cipher Office series.
I loved Stephen in the book and how earnest Ken was. It’s fun to see where these books all end up fitting within the timeline of the other books! (For instance, this book overlaps and precedes the majority of Kat’s book in Knitting in The City #7 – Marriage of Inconvenience).
I still enjoy the character overlap in these Smartypants Romances! It’s so fun to visit with old fictional friends and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that! I can’t wait to read the next one in the SmartyPants line up!
In addition to the issues with trigger warnings, the steam level in this book was way too high for me. It also featured too many lines about “sticking to the script” which I found to be both repetitive and corny.
Lasly, Ken was sooooo unlikable towards almost every other character and only nice to Stephen. Which is fine-ish but I find to be problematic overall.
Rian Thompson thought she joined the gym to get healthy. Little did she know she was about to add hundred and ninety pounds of swoonworthy abdominal muscles and arrogance to her life. Every day in Rians’s life follows a predictable pattern, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s got a nice job, a nice place to live, and a nice family – even if they are a little wedding-zilla-ish at the moment. She doesn’t need anything spectacular to be happy. She just needs to get healthy – mentally, physically. . . and maybe spiritually if that happens. But she’ll settle for two out of three until her sister finally gets hitched. Carlos Davies thought his life was perfect. Little did he know it was about to be turned upside down by a woman who is not his type. In Carlos’s mind, his life is damn near perfect. He’s got a great job, a great place to live, and a great stash of pick up lines that always work. It has occurred to him that maybe no one actually takes him all that seriously. But with these bulging biceps and thick, dark hair, does that even matter since he’s never sleeping alone? Welcome to Weight Expectations, where great—and unexpected—things happen.
Let’s start with the good, shall we?
We get to visit old friends again in this Cypher book! Lots of Quinn interactions and yarn references.
Rian was written really well. She was witty and self deprecating. A realist with wit. I like that idea… Feel free to use that on my gravestone.
There were some great side characters- Abel and Francesca. I don’t know who the other books are going to be about in this series but I loved interacting with both of these characters. Honorable mention goes to Tabitha. (Who’s name choice I still can’t get over. Out of all the names in the world….)
Okay it can’t be avoided any longer-
I could not bring myself to finish the book. Hey, I did make it over half way but at that point I was hating on the Carlos POV chapters so much that I practically wanted to skip them all!
Should we talk about Carlos? I think he lived a previous life as Gaston. I kept making notes in my kindle to the tune of “unappealing narrator…” I’ll leave it at that. I think the picture has been painted.
While I loved Rian, I had a very hard time picturing her. She would mention she was morbidly obese and then in another chapter put on Carlos’ shirt and it would go down to her knees because he was so buff. I couldn’t get a handle on her size and since weight was such a big issue in the book- I think I should’ve been able to.
There was also a lot of Carlos saying that Rian wasn’t his type but he couldn’t get her out of his head. A lot of that. I’m personally not a fan of that type of attraction- it feels very Mr. Darcy (aka: you’re family sucks and sometimes all of you are embarrassing, also we should get married).
I think this book will appeal to some people. Perhaps if you enjoyed Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich you will like this one? Unfortunately it wasn’t for me!
There are three things you need to know about Shane P.I.
1) P.I. is not her last name, it’s her job title, 2) Her specialty is catching cheaters, and 3) She’s a superhuman – kind of. Gabriel is a security expert for Cipher Security, and a former UN Peacekeeper with a fierce protective streak that finds its focus on the beautiful P.I. Their attraction is like an elephant in a room full of breakable things, and figuring out how to trust each other with their hearts, and maybe their lives, is the most fragile thing of all.
(If you’re reading this book you’re PROBABLY a fan of Smartpants Romances and in that case within this specific world, I think that could up this book to 5/5 stars! As a stand alone romance it is 4/5 stars)
🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 Steam Level
The dedication is a quote from love hacked by Penny Reid. That just made me feel like this author was really appreciative of being able to write in her universe and it started me off on the right foot for the book!
I loved EVERY quote that started out the chapter sections in this book! I swear I highlighted every single one. You had SO much character overlap with this one! (From the Knitting in the City series) It was amazing!
It also had a lower steam level than the other books in this SmartyPants Romance series so far! I love being able to recommend a romance with a low steam level!
There were big topics being talked about- being black in America, being black and being found with a gun, moving on from past ghosts, having a physical disability, being underestimated. I mean it was everything and it was well done.
Lots of superhero talk for the Marvel and DC fans. A mystery to solve and a slow burn. It was such a fun read, I loved every minute of it!
This was everything I was hoping for in the SmartyPants Romance series! I can’t wait to pick up some more books from this author!
Read- Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
Listen to- The Hamilton Soundtrack
Watch- A Marvel Movie… Might as well start with Iron Man!