Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey

arc review

2.5 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level 

It’s no secret that I love R.S. Grey’s steamy romcoms. In fact a few of her books have made their way on MY required reading list for romance lovers!  This book features the signature wit of Grey that I always love and tropes that I can’t help but get behind.  (Tropes in this book include: confined space, in love with brothers best friend, coworker romance, age gap).  Unfortunately this book didn’t capture me like Grey’s others.  I had some issues with the overall romance in it.  The couple’s relationship seemed a bit unhealthy with passionate scenes occuring after huge fights and poor communication.  Sex scenes featuring tears and anger and avoidance.  I had a hard time moving past that and it made me overall not root for them as a couple.  In the background of this book are two characters that I hope will have a book next because I was really into them! (I’m purposefully not using their names… no spoilers from me!)  So it’s a bummer that I wasn’t the ideal reader for this particular book, but that won’t stop me from picking up all of Grey’s books in the future!

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The Honey – Don’t List by Christina Lauren

the honey don't list

arc review

official blurb
Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other. James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus. Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

my blurb!
A dysfunctional version of Chip and Joanna Gaines go on tour and need to be managed by two employees who think they’re better than each other.

2 out of 5
 🔥🔥🔥🔥 (maybe  🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥) / 5 steam level
[this rating is mainly for speech used rather than action]

This book was a hard one for me. It wasn’t particularly funny by any means and the characters that you’re supposed to be rooting for didn’t really have much of a love story.  The first few chapters set the groundwork for the reader to understand the empire that Carey and James are working for.  This was tough for me because I thought it was pretty easy to grasp that the Tripps were indeed the Gaines’ but with a crappy marriage.  I tried to push through that part assuming that the Gaines’ don’t exist in the world that Christina Lauren created- but alas, at the end of the book Mrs. Tripp makes a reference to Chip and Jo!  So that theory went out the window…
The formatting is a bit like Big Little Lies (the show… because I still haven’t read the book!) where they’re being interviewed by the police about something secretive and you don’t find out what it is until the end. I would’ve been really into this storytelling technique if it paid off. I didn’t think it paid off.
Around 31% into the book I made a note that I was ready to start skimming.  Instead I put the book down and read a different book and came back to this one.
I think what I struggled with the most is not rooting for Carey and James.  They were more like side characters than the main characters of the novel.  Carey lacked a lot of gumption and I really dislike that in a character.  There was a communication issue that could have been easily avoided but was maybe necessary for the climax of the book (only if you thought of James and Carey as the main characters… which I did not and therefore didn’t find the drama necessary).
I would be wrong to not acknowledge that there is a weirdly abusive (verbal and emotional?) relationship in this book that is completely unhealthy and doesn’t resolve in a way that was pleasing for me.
Remember that awesome movie Set It Up on Netflix? This was kind of like a take on that movie but not done as well.
I will say also that as much as I wasn’t wrapped up in the love story of the book, I did like James quite a bit.

So overall this book wasn’t for me.  There will definitely be readers that love this book and like the variation from other CL books.  The good news is that this is the exception to the rule from me with CL books and I will happily still pick up their next book without thinking twice about it!

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Shelf Awareness (Green Valley Library #4) by Katie Ashley

shelf awareness

 

official blurb
After catching her husband in a compromising position, the last thing that Finley Granger wants is to enter the insanity that is the dating world. She’s dealing with enough upheaval: she’s quit her job as a journalist in Atlanta to start over as a librarian in the backwoods town of Green Valley, Tennessee. But her grandmother has other ideas. When GramBea teams up with her sister, Dot, and their best friend, Estelle, Finley finds herself surrounded by a trio of well-meaning yet incredibly bumbling matchmakers. In spite of their efforts, there’s only one man she’s curious about, and that’s Zeke Masters, the library’s volunteer IT specialist. Sure, he’s 6’4”, impossibly built, ridiculously good-looking, and gets her nether regions tingling. However, it’s the tingle of her journalist spidey-senses that holds her attention most as she wonders why he’s on sabbatical from Seattle. Is he on lam, or on the run from a bad relationship? As Finley finds herself reluctantly drawn to the gorgeous IT guy, she can’t help but wonder: should she indulge in a little rebound fun with the mysterious Zeke – or has she finally met her match?

arc review

2.75 out of 5 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Ah! Can you believe this is my last Smartypants Romance to review?!  I think the grand total was like eleven books.  Ready to dive into this one? Let’s do it! Ps. If you are looking for a book with LGBT characters, there is a background character in this book who you will love!

what i liked
This book features a tall heroine! I know quite a few people who keep running lists of books featuring tall heroines.  She is 5’9″ and he is 6’3″ if that helps anyone out there! (I know the official blurb says 6’4″ but I’m looking at the book right now when it says 6’3″).
I liked a lot of the pop culture references in the book! I’m a sucker for a Meg Ryan reference.
Do you like the Golden Girls? If so, you will really like the trio of older women who Finley moves in with.
I liked the overall premise of the book, it was really interesting, as I read the first chapter, it mirrored pretty closely another Smarypants Romance book (Stud Muffin).

what i didn't like
There were some repetitive paragraphs in this book.  I did get an Advanced Readers Copy so there is always a chance that these could be changed and updated before publication.
I had some issues with the dialogue.  This was actually the first book where I noticed that the dialogue wasn’t flowing well for me.  I can’t exactly place my finger on the issue other than to say that I looked up the author to see how many books she had previously written.
A lot of scenarios in the book were really predictable from the first sentence in the chapter.  You could tell where it was going to go, and in most cases it was going in a over-the-top direction.  For instance, Finley and the Ben Wa balls (who puts them in for the first time and then goes to work?!) Or Finley and her first date.  Basically there were a lot of scenes that I could see coming and were written for the hilariously awkward factor, but I never laughed.

while reading you should
Listen to any of these songs mentioned throughout the book:
-Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye
-Somebody to Love by Queen
-We Will Rock You by Queen
Watch: Twilight and/or The Mummy (trust me, it’ll make sense as you read the book)
Extra points for watching the briefly mentioned Sleepless in Seattle

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Crime and Periodicals (Green Valley Library #2 ) by Nora Everly

20190718_GVL02_Crime and Periodicals_Everly_KDP_FINAL

arc review

official blurb
In Green Valley, Tennessee everybody knows everybody, but nobody knows Sabrina Logan. Sabrina has been hiding in plain sight for years. Living her life inside of books, dutifully helping her family, and hoping no one will notice her. So far? Mission accomplished! Yet when sexy—and distrustful—sheriff, Wyatt Monroe returns to town with his daughters, he definitely notices the quiet librarian everyone else overlooks. The single dad can’t seem to shake thoughts of shy Sabrina. Without quite understanding the impulse, Wyatt makes his mission finding her again, so he can . . . well, he’ll just have to reckon with that later. What Wyatt discovers is a woman who trusts too easily, but who’s afraid to live. Trust doesn’t come easily to Wyatt. But living? That’s never been a problem. And he’d sure like to show her how.

2 out of 5🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

Well I made it to 43% on this book before I finally decided to DNF (did not finish) it. I just could not get into this one.
I couldn’t identify with either main character at all. They were definitely supposed to be likable but won’t be making my list of fictional friends.  Sabrina I would read about and sigh or think… this is stressful.  And Wyatt…he was written to be a swoonworthy single dad – but I’ll reserve my swoons in that category for the next Hallmark movie I watch. (We all know there’s like a 1 in 3 chance that a Hallmark movie will feature a sweet and caring single dad).

Truth be told, I never made it to a steamy sex scene in this book so my steam level may not be accurate. From a pure jargon assessment I would consider this a three steam.

The truth is that I could’ve kept reading this book- in fact I’m the past I would’ve! But I’ve recently made a new rule that if the book I’m reading makes me only want to pick up the book on occasion- then I can DNF it. Life is too short to push through books you’re not loving!

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Love in Due Time (Green Valley Public Library #1) by L.B. Dunbar

20190718_GVL01_Love in Due Time_Dunbar_KDP_FINAL

arc review

official blurb
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.

2 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥🔥 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)

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The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

the bromance book club

arc review

official blurb
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.

2.5 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥  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?

what i didn't like
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.

what i liked
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.

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Sticking to the Script (Cipher Office #2) by Stella Weaver

20180715_CO01_Sticking to the Script_Weaver_KDP_FINAL

arc review

official blurb
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?

TRIGGER WARNINGS:
sexual assault (including description of flashbacks) & stalking

Looking for lead character in the LGBT community? This book is for you!

2 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 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.

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