Stud Muffin (Donner Bakery #2) by Jiffy Kate

20190718_DB02_Stud Muffin_Kate_KDP_FINAL

 

arc review

 

official blurb
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?

3 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level (I had a hard time deciding between 4 and 5 steam level here if that helps anyone!)

 

what i liked
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!!

what i didn't like
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!

 

while reading you should
Listen to: Loretta Lynn
Bake: cupcakes
Do- turn down the invitation for your high school reunion. Seriously… Nothing good will come from going.

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Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

royal holiday

official blurb
Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality. Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling. Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

my blurb!
A romance featuring an older couple, the holidays, and a trip abroad. (This book is the fourth in a series but can be read as a standalone novel).

arc review

3 out of 5
 🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
I read this book quickly.  When a book is three stars, I think this needs to be stated. Because usually three stars mean the book was just okay- but it wasn’t bad enough to make me put the book down and pick up something else!
This book makes you crave scones and want to travel to England (maybe even over the holidays!) It gave me a lot of Hallmark Movie vibes. (Which you know, to me, is a major plus because I love a good Hallmark Movie).
The main couple was in their 50s, and I’ve never read a romance novel where the leads were that “old” – I thought that was really cool!

what i didn't like
There were some major repetitive bits in this book- like Vivian’s job description and what she will be doing soon.  To the point where I wondered if they were going to cut it all out of the final copy (being this is an advanced readers copy, you don’t know what will make it into the finished version of the book). AND if they did cut it all out, would the book end up being a lot shorter?
The book felt really formulaic to me.  No surprises, very predictable.
I could never picturing Malcolm with an accent for some reason, maybe my head doesn’t naturally read with an accent even though I know it should be there! OR maybe he didn’t have enough random phrases that felt British to me.
I never laughed out loud while reading this book, so I wouldn’t consider it a romcom, simply a light holiday romance.

Shall we tackle the steam level?  In the words of Rory Gilmore, “let’s shall!”  It was a 3 steam level but overall description was minimal. But if 🍆 is involved then a 3 it must be!

when to read
This book is perfect to read over any wintery/cold month! But preferably over the holidays up to New Years!

while reading you should
Watch- The Holiday
Listen to- The Holiday Soundtrack (it’s one I listen to ALL the time!)
Do- check in with your mom!
Eat – scones!

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Baking Me Crazy (Donner Bakery #1) by Karla Sorensen

baking me crazy

official blurb
I’m Levi Buchanan, and until five years ago, I thought the legend of my family’s curse was a load of crazy, Southern nonsense. No curse can make you fall in love at first sight. No curse can force a true, deep, passionate, all-consuming love that will haunt you all the days of your life. Then I met Jocelyn Abernathy and I realized how completely wrong I was. The problem is, Jocelyn guards her feelings like well-armed soldier. She’s the most beautiful, stubborn, infuriating woman I’ve ever met. Every time she talks, I want to kiss the living daylights out of her. But I can’t. Because when we met, she didn’t need true love. She needed a best friend. And that’s what I’ve been to her… for five years. But when Jocelyn meets a handsome stranger her first day working at Donner Bakery and she lets him buy her a dill pickle cupcake, I realize with ominous regret that I may have missed my window with my best friend. If I can’t get her to see past our friendship, my new curse may be to watch the love of my life move on with someone else.

my blurb!
A story of a “frelationship” where one person is finally ready to change the rules.

 

arc review

3.5 stars
🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Ah! My first book in the Penny-verse!  Don’t know what I mean? Well, Penny Reid (who you’ve read me ranting and raving about with her Knitting in the City series and her Winston Brothers series) has agreed to let other authors write books based in the world she created!  This is the first of the books to come out (I think they’re all classified as Smartypants Romances) and I was so excited to get my hands on it!
It was so fun to get little glimpses of characters I love – but the overlap was pretty minimal.  Nonetheless even the mention of places I have in my head from the other book is still exciting to me.
Levi, our main hero, also had chapters from his perspective and I loved those! He was really likable and made you root for him.  Seriously, I was team Levi from the first chapter I read from him.
Let’s talk about how romance books are the most inclusive books ever.  Want to find a genre that you can see yourself in? Well, look no further than romance! In this case our heroine, Jocelyn, is in a wheelchair.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the entire book the main character is in a wheelchair.  Three cheers for inclusivity!
There were some characters mentioned that I can’t wait to see again, or find out what their stories are! I read this book within a week and enjoyed my time with it.  If you’re a fan of the Penny-verse you will enjoy this book!

what i didn't like
I had a hard time bonding with the heroine in this book. Everyone seemed to love her but she was prickly and not prickly lovable to me. Maybe more on the side of drama and bitchy.  I know that’s a strong word but it’s the word that came to mind multiple times while reading the chapters from Jocelyn’s perspective.
I mentioned loving the chapters from Levi’s perspective. And I did! But it should be noted…the way that he wooed her I thought could’ve been even better.  I didn’t have a moment while reading where I thought, “I wish could be wooed this way!”
I would’ve loved to have even more baking scenes in this book, especially based off of the title. It seemed like Levi’s mom (a side character) might have been the biggest baker in the book!

Again, I think that Penny fans will really enjoy this book, but I didn’t laugh out loud, or swoon greatly so it won’t make any must-read lists for me.

while reading you should
Do: Bake bread
Go: try a new flavor of cupcake at a local bakery (maybe not pickle though)
Listen to: My Best Friend by Tim Mcgraw

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Maybe This Time By kasie west

maybe this time

official blurb
One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love? Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas. Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . . Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

my blurb!
A cutesie YA book told over the course of a full year with a hate you – love you trope.

3.5 stars

Do you ever read finish a book and think… hmm that was fine.  You don’t regret the time you spent reading it but you won’t think about the characters or run out to tell all of your friends to read it?  That’s how I felt about this Kasie West book.  It was fine.  I laughed a few times when I read it.  I liked the guy in it quite a bit.  I couldn’t remember the characters names within 24 hours of reading it…  Overall it was a good summer read, that I have no regrets about reading but definitely not my favorite Kasie West book.

My favorite quote from the book?
“Do you know what your problem is Sophie?”
“What do I have to answer to get you to stop talking?”

Maybe romance books have ruined me for YA? Two in a row that I was excited about that didn’t wow me. Oh well, onto the next!

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Truth by S.J. Sylvis

truth

official blurb
There’s only one thing that stands in the way of having my name stamped on a big, fat check trailing with several zeros. And it goes by the name of Reid King. What is a totally average elementary school music teacher doing standing in a tour bus with the King of Music? I have no idea, but for some reason, the stars have aligned and the universe thinks I’m the one who can to help him. That, somehow, Reid King and I can collaborate on an album together and make him the authentic, raw, soul-crushing singer that he once was. Reid King thinks I’m in over my head. Heck, even I think I’m in over my head. But that check will solve all my problems, and nothing will stand in my way of getting it. Not Reid King, or his devilish smirk, or his soul-gripping voice, or his talented fingers that roam effortlessly over a guitar. Not even the steely glances he throws my way every three seconds. I’ll get that money and save my family from years of heartache. And maybe… just maybe… I’ll save Reid from his heartache, too.

my blurb!
Brooklyn, a public school music teacher, agrees to a summer job to help Reid, a rockstar in danger of losing his star power.  She’s supposed to help him unlock his writing block for songs, but a summer on a small tour bus together and she might end up helping him with a whole different problem.

Trigger warning- this book has a background character struggling in the arena of mental health.

arc review

3.5 stars

  🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
I read this book super quickly.  I mean I was suffering from insomnia, but still. It was a one night read for me.  If I didn’t have insomnia I still think I would’ve finished it in two sittings.  It was quick to read and enjoyable.
When the author teased a slow-burn for this romance, she was not lying!  It is indeed a slow burn featuring alternating POVs – which I find particularly helpful especially if one of the characters behaves like a jerk for any period of time.
Reid was complex and likable- you understood what he’s struggling with and why.  His pain was palpable.
Brooklyn was cute and funny (although I wouldn’t call this book a romcom).  I liked the way she dressed and how she and Reid spoke the same language.  She had genuine kindness that made her seem like you could be friends with her.
I did a couple of late night chuckles while I was reading this book (Don’t worry, I didn’t wake up my husband soundly sleeping next to me.  Although don’t you sometimes want to wake up the good sleeper in your relationship, just to tell them that you’re not sleeping? No? Just me? Okay.) But again would reiterate that this book is high drama.  Contemporary, angsty romance at its best.
I also want to mention how strong the Prologue is in this book- it snags your attention right from the beginning!  If you’re a friend of the rockstar romance, you’re gonna really enjoy this book!

what i didn't like
There was a plotline that contained a bit of mystery- you were waiting for the truth to be uncovered.  See what I did there? I know, I’m a comedic genius.  Well, I guessed the mystery pretty easily.  This isn’t totally abnormal for me- as you know by now I live on a steady diet of BBC Masterpiece Mysteries – but it does take away from the book when you don’t get your “aha!” moment.
This book featured a grand gesture – which is fine!  I think I’m not particularly a fan of that plot device but (like this entire review) that is purely subjective- it does add to the negative column for me though.
The last bit that didn’t sit perfectly for me was Brooklyn getting this gig in the first place.  She gets this summer job to help this very well known singer/songwriter get back into writing music.  And she has zero experience…. which I could kind of (maybe) move past.  But I actually felt like she was straight up clueless and wasn’t doing anything to help herself to not be clueless.  I would’ve loved for a scene with her googling how to help someone write a song.  Or maybe talk about a skype session she just finished with a different artist who struggled with writer’s block (who she easily could’ve been put in contact with by her BFF in the book).

Overall this book was a really quick and enjoyable romance that I think a lot of readers will absolutely love. Especially if you like a rockstar romance- I would definitely snag this one!

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The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

the rest of the story

official blurb
Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges. Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her. Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well. For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

3.5 stars

what i liked
Sarah Dessen does such a good job of getting you really annoyed with the parents featured in her books!  Like just remembering how unfair your parents were in high school and how you somehow have to obey them still… and how much it sucks that they just plain don’t get it! OMG her ability to capture that feeling is uncanny!
There were a couple of moments while reading that I laughed out loud.
I really liked Roo but I had a hard time picturing him.
Roo reminded me a lot of Dexter from Sarah Dessen’s book This Lullaby. I really enjoyed his and Emma Saylors humor.

what i didn't like
The ending was good…well good-ish… but felt rushed with Roo. I know a lot of people like YA books that are a bit more open ended bc teens don’t know where they’ll be in life. But I didn’t like that as a teen and I don’t like it now either. (Seriously, I remember feeling this way in high school… like “What? Do authors not believe we can meet the loves of our lives in high school?! Like we’re not deep enough for that?!”  I still feel that way! Give me the ending I want!)
There are so many things I wanted from the ending! (Kind of/ but not really spoilers ahead) :
I felt like we could have had a scene with a mention of her dad apologizing to Roo.
I felt like we could have had a good reminiscing scene with her dad and her mom on the lake.
Also,Saylor should have met roos mom and she could have told a story!
It just felt lacking. But also made you wanna be on the lake and you were rooting for Emma Saylor, I just didn’t feel a huge payoff in the end…

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On the Corner Between Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

on the corner of love and hate

official blurb
What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like. When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.  Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

my blurb!
Two friends who were in a long term frelationship gone awry, now try to coexist as coworkers.

3.5 stars

                                                               🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
This book was really funny. It actually started out funnier than it ended, but I still laughed quite a few times throughout it. I wonder if there will be a companion book because there are so many characters described in the friendship group that seemed to have enough of a backstory to warrant other books!
I liked all the scenes at her apartment… does she need a hypothetical roommate?  Because I’m available.  The town she lived in was really cute, I could totally live there! Definitely Stars Hollow vibes.
Her parents were really enjoyable.  I loved the scenes featuring her mom.
For the amount of sexual innuendos that were present in this book – I was expecting the actual steam level to be a lot higher than it was. I think this will be a really good book for fans of the unHoneymooners who like a low steam novel!
I read this book really quickly!  It was honestly almost four stars, you’ll have to read on to find out why it wasn’t!
You know when two characters really dislike each other and you read the whole book and you’re like… wait what was the big deal? This book explained why she had hatred for Cooper really well.  It made a lot of sense and I appreciated that.
So, this also turned out to be a second chance romance…which I tend to really dislike. So overall this rated a lot higher than most second chance romances I read!

what i didn't like
It featured my least favorite thing in a book where the characters in love with somebody but once they can get together they’re not sure if they actually want to be with them… which is annoying to read about. It would have benefited from dual point of view chapters. Cooper’s POV could have explained the scenario with his “girlfriend” a lot better than the book did – so that left me wanting more.
So, I almost gave it four stars but I can’t get over the annoyance of a character who isn’t sure if she is in love with somebody or not, and then thinks she’s in love with them, but then isn’t sure if she should be with him because it’ll change the friendship. Kind of gave me Josh and Hazel vibes in that sense. I just find that plot point to be really annoying.  I root for someone who wants something and finally gets it. Not for someone who wants something and gets it and then turns it down because it’s now “too real.”

I would definitely pick up other books by this author I really enjoyed her writing style and if she does write companion books for the series, I would read them!

arc review

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