Wall of Winnipeg by Maria Zapata

wall of winnipeg

official blurb
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked. For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable. What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

4.25 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow I cannot believe how long it took me to get into this book and also how much I ended up loving it for how long it took me to get into it!

There are a LOT of trigger warnings in this hefty book. That’s right… It’s hefty. Her books are SO long and this one was 673 pages! Alcoholism, physical abuse, drug addiction (side character), foster care. There were maybe more than that if I really broke it all down but those were the majors.

It was my first Zapata book and she was described to me as the master of a slow burn. Totally agree after reading and I am here for it! But let me tell you, I was well over 100 pages into this book… maybe 175-ish and I was so close to DNFing this book.  The only reason I didn’t is because I’ve had so many friends rave about it.  I totally get the hype now.  As I’ve been away from this book I almost upped my rating to 5 stars because I’ve thought about this book so frequently, but it is (in my opinion) too long.  Like, way too long.  But dang, was it good!!

There was one sex scene in the book. It was probably around a three steam level- and this scene could easily be skipped. There’s also cursing in it, in case that bothers you!

Aiden gave me major Joshua Templeman vibes from The Hating Game and I loved that! I do wish some of the chapters were written in his perspective.

I also stalled out a LITTLE bit in the end. I usually love an epilogue but this book was so long that I honestly didn’t enjoy the epilogue much at all. After finally getting into this book though, I cruised through the middle/end of it! So a solid four stars for me!

while reading you should
Watch: Love on the Sidelines
Eat: a vegan meal
Do: go for a run

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His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey

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arc review

3.5 stars

🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

official blurb
I’ve spent eight years wishing I’d fall out of love with Derek Knightley. Blowing out birthday candles, chasing after shooting stars, making it rain spare change into mall fountains—every time it’s the same wish: forget about DerekBut the day he walks back into my life, I realize there are two things time has yet to soften: my feelings for him and his chiseled jawline. It’s infuriating that my heart still races when he walks into a room. I refuse to fall prey to old unrequited love, so I decide the less I’m around him, the better. Avoidance is key. Unfortunately, Derek isn’t going to make it easy. As a teenager, I would have crawled on my hands and knees to attract his attention. Now I can’t seem to escape it. I’m not sure why he’s bothering. He’s not just out of my league—he’s out of my tax bracket. As the sole heir to the Knightley Company, he’s as close to American royalty as you can get. As for me, I’m just a part-time princess at Knightley’s flagship magical theme park. I spend my days playing make-believe, but Derek has no use for fairytales. His unwavering confidence makes it clear he thinks I’ll surrender in the end. He’s just biding his time. Making me sweat.  His Royal Highness always gets what he wants. And he wants me.

what i liked
This book featured a slow burn, which I am a big fan of! I love a slow burn! I think the first steamy scene was well into the 60%.
I think going into this book it’s helpful to know it’s a romdrom.  Well in my estimate it is anyways.
I read this book really quickly, as I do with all of R.S. Grey’s books! I was finished in less than 24 hours with two toddlers and a baby on the way.  So that is in the pro list for me, for sure!
Probably my favorite part about the book was that it really put you into the world of amusement park princess.   (Similar to how you felt like a you really were immersed in Well Met!)  Have you ever thought about how the actors move around the amusement park? Or how much goes into those parades?!  I loved the whole experience!

what i didn't like
I really didn’t laugh much in this book and a few times thought… Wow I’m only that percent in, huh?  Again, if I would’ve gone into this book as a romdrom I would’ve been better off I think.
I didn’t exactly bond with our heroine of the novel.  She’s pretty stuck in her life and everyone can see that, but it takes the whole book to see some changes.  That was hard for me to read about.  You know how I feel about my characters having a lot of gumption!
There is a 10 year age gap trope in this book!  Age gaps are perhaps my least favorite trope.  But if you love an age gap trope, this one was done really well and this book will be for you!

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

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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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Code of Conduct (Cipher Security #1) by April White

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arc review

official blurb
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.

4 out of 5(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


what i liked
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!

while reading you should
Read- Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
Listen to- The Hamilton Soundtrack
Watch- A Marvel Movie… Might as well start with Iron Man!

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Happy Trail (Park Ranger #1) by Daisy Prescott

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arc review

official blurb
A man of few words, Ranger Jay Daniels values the calm, quiet solitude of the Great Smoky Mountains. Never quite fitting in with either side of his family, he prefers the company of birds and trees to people.Yeah, he’d most definitely prefer a bird–any bird, any bird at all, take a vulture for instance–to the human-tornado hybrid that just blew onto his peaceful stretch of the Appalachian Trail. The path of true love never has run smooth for Olive Perry. After getting dumped and promptly abandoned in the middle of her multi-month hike, Olive swears off men. Determined to finish the long trek by herself, she doesn’t need a prince–or broody and taciturn ranger–to save her. Yet, when an early snowstorm threatens the mountains, and Ranger Daniels is charged with getting hikers to safety, that includes hot-tempered Olive Perry. Snowed in and forced to share an abandoned cabin, can Olive’s heated intensity melt Jay’s cool reserve And if so, will this happy trail lead to true love? Or will their time together be just another bump in the road?

4 out of 5(I will clarify that I think this book would be in the 3 star range if you weren’t reading them as a fan of the SmartyPants Romances and simply reading it alone)
🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level


what i liked
Wow what a slow burn! This book features some amazing tropes. In addition to the slow burn, we have a snowed in / confined space romance!  These are some of my favorite tropes!  It also features an opposites attract trope.
I know I said the steam level is 3/5 and it is, but overall because it’s a slow burn book- the sex scene (that’s right- just one) is easily skippable making this book have a wider audience appeal!
You know the book/movie Wild that everyone loved (okay I didn’t like it at all, don’t judge me!) This is like a romance take on that book. The heroine is walking *mostly* alone on this insanely long hike across multiple states. I love how admired this is in the book- but I can honestly say I don’t get the appeal. Who can leave their lives for 6 weeks for a hike? I don’t know who… I wouldn’t do it but I’m not outdoorsy so that’s just me. So if I said this book made me wanna walk the trail, I would be lying to you. But I will say I enjoyed reading about Olive’s walk on the trail!
Jay was so likable and complex. He is have Japanese and half white. We get to learn a lot about what it’s like to grow up with that identity. He had a lot of Drew vibes from Beauty and the Mustache- so if you loved that book (like I did!) this book will be right up your alley. In fact Drew makes an appearance!!! No spoilers but it might have been my favorite scene in the book!

I wasn’t exactly sure where in the timeline of smarty-pants romances that this book took place, but I can tell you it’s after Beard Science.

At the beginning of the book I had some nerves that I would dislike Olive. She seemed to have poor communication skills and I was apprehensive that I would be able to handle that as the book progressed. I am happy to report that I did end up liking Olive and you will too!  But if I was going to mention a con in this book it would be Olive and her avoidance version of communication.

when to read
Go read this book! It was so fun to read and perfect for the fall/winter months!

while reading you should
-Go for a walk (around your neighborhood…let’s not get crazy here) and see what birds you can spot!
– Eat: pop-tarts and pie (not at the same time bc wow, sugar overload)
-Plan a trip to the Smokey Mountains (I’ve been and it was awesome! Unlike the book we saw plenty of bears up close and personal… Like real close.) Or if bears aren’t your thing… Plan a trip to Japan!
-watch (I know you’re thinking I’m gonna say Wild but I didn’t finish the movie so no.) I smell snow episode of Gilmore girls, officially known as Love and War and Snow (Season 1 Episode 8)


Truth by S.J. Sylvis


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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Well Met by Jen DeLuca

well met


official blurb
Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him? The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying? This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

my blurb!
A girl with a penchant for helping people, decides to join a renaissance faire to help out her niece.  Little does she know that getting into character can help her as much as the audience.

4.5 out of 5

 🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level


what i liked
I read this book in less than 24 hours.  It was so cute! I laughed a lot and found myself in love with the faire…I’ve never been to one but now I wanna go. Okay so maybe I don’t wanna run there and go, but I would totally go if it was free and before I wouldn’t have gone at all… so that’s something right? I loved all of the wench jokes and will definitely be adding those to my vernacular.
Okay back to even more things I liked… I really enjoyed the sister relationship, and the aunt/niece relationship.  I love a strong family in a book- so often in adult books the family relationships are strained and stressful, and I didn’t really feel like that at all reading this book.
Shall we get to the main main of the novel? In the words of Lorelai Gilmore, “Let’s shall!”  I loved loved loved Simon! Did I mention I loved him? I did. He was adorable and complex.  I was picturing the love interest in Austenland… which was not at all how he was described in the book, but I have a mind of my own and you can’t stop me!  Towards the end I tried to picture him as Captain Hook from Once Upon A Time and I think that’s more what he’s supposed to look like.

what i didn't like
My biggest issue in the whole thing were the communication issues in the book…  I loathe communication issues.  I get it completely, it adds to the angst but at one point the main character says that she and Simon are really good at talking to each other.  My reaction was literally “No you’re not. Lies!”  (It was, just check my kindle notes section!)  However, as I’m writing this review I’m currently having a hard time deciding if that should subtract from my rating or not bc I really liked this book!

While this was a 3 steam, the description levels were on the low end. I recently had someone mention they appreciate a “swear beware” (I think I just made that phrase up but I love it)- there are f-bombs in this book. Overall vulgar language was at a minimum for romantic encounters but the overall vernacular did include some bombs in the F variety.

while reading you should
Do: Look up a renaissance faire near you!
AND: Plan a night out with your girl-friends!
Watch- Austenland or A Knight’s Tale … Okay it should be Shakespeare related based off of this book but I’m not a fall of good ole Bill so…Austen and/or renaissance it is!


arc review

This book releases September 3, 2019!

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