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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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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The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

the friend zone

official blurb
Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children. Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

my blurb!
The story of a blunt and fun woman, struggling with painful periods, trying to navigate her dating life when she knows her future isn’t going to be filled with children.

So I actually got this book from the publisher at least a month ago. I never wait that long to read books from a publisher because I get so excited when I get them. But around that point everyone was putting out five star reviews of this book and I just got too nervous that I would not agree with the rating! Does that ever happen to you? An overhyped book? Well let me tell you this book was not overhyped I really really enjoyed it!

5 out of 5

 

🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Spoiler alert: (not really) I have endometriosis which can create huge fertility issues and non-stop debilitating pain. It’s basically living with a chronic condition where your pain level is heightened all the time. It forces you to cancel plans, rearrange your calendar, miss events that you were looking forward to and completely change your lifestyle… and there’s nothing you can do about it. This book features a heroine who has awful menstrual cycles. As I write this I’m thinking about that scene in the movie 20th Century WomenSay the word menstruation.  I have never read a fiction book that tackles period issues before! It was speaking to me!  Fun fact- the author based the main character’s fertility issues off of her irl best friend! For the amazing depiction of the suffering that we go through with periods from hell – this book made my REQUIRED READING LIST FOR PEOPLE WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS.

There are things in this book I didn’t think I would like. A love triangle? Since when do I like love triangles?! I know there’s a few exceptions to the rule – but I swear the last couple of books with love triangles I’ve somehow liked! What is happening to me?! There was also a communication issue in the book – which is my least favorite plot topic.  And somehow it just didn’t bother me enough to take away the 5 star rating!

A couple of fun facts about this book… The author owns the bakery Nadia Cakes which I’ve heard has been featured on the food Network! Nadia Cakes makes a cameo in the book so that was kind of fun. Also the heroines dog in the book, Stuntman Mike, is the author’s real life dog! I thought these were fun facts that made me enjoy the novel even more!

Okay last rants of appreciation, I promise.  The love story and friendship stories were both so strong. I loved how close her and her best friend, Sloan, were. At times this book gave me vibes of My Oxford Year, sometimes Christina Lauren vibes.  This book was so enjoyable to read- it was quick, I flew through it in less than a day! Ready for the kicker? It also made the list of my REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS.

while reading you should
Eat: cupcakes, you deserve it!
Wear: your “boyfriend” t-shirt? Actual boyfriend not required – all you need is a quick trip to goodwill and an oversized men’s shirt!  Goodwill to the rescue!
Listen to: Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

arc review

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The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory (The Wedding Date #3)

the wedding party

 

official blurb
Maddie and Theo have two things in common: 1. Alexa is their best friend 2. They hate each other. After an “Oops, we made a mistake” kiss, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking. But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.

my blurb!
An enemies to lovers romance featuring some old favorite characters from The Wedding Date and The Proposal.

4 out of 5                                                            🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
Do you know one of my favorite things about reading romance novels?  I love when I find myself smil-reading.  You know, just randomly sitting in a public place with a smile on my face because I’m enjoying the book/dialogue so much? In this particular book, I found myself smile reading easily by chapter two.  Suffice to say I was very much excited to read the rest of the book!
One of my favorite quotes in the book? “That was an excellent engagement present. He’d only brought champagne and general anxiety.”  Haha!  Made you smile read, huh?
I read this book really quickly and enjoyed every minute of it.  It was basically a sequel to The Wedding Date (even though The Proposal was the book sandwiched in between these two) because there was so much character overlap between the two books. The timeline between all three books overlapped a lot, and it made it all really fun to read!

Ready for me to break down the steam level?  It did get up to a 3 steam level- not all of the book was at this level- some of the sex scenes feature closed-door sex scenes.  But it should be noted that it did go up to a three at some point in the book.

what i didn't like
Full disclosure I skimmed a few scenes at work bc I wanted to read their relationship so badly!  For this reason I couldn’t give it five stars – it’s good that I was invested and wanted to move forward but bad that I could skim a few sections and really not miss out on anything in the book.

while reading you should
Do: discover what makes you an old soul. (For me it’s DVRing jeopardy.  Don’t judge!)
Eat: homemade guacamole
Drink: your favorite mixed drink!

Ps. If you love this series- keep your eyes peeled for Royal Holiday (book #4 for this series!) coming out October 1!

arc review

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Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

twice in a blue moon

 

official blurb
Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak. During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good. Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

my blurb!
Two people who fell in love when things were a little less complicated, run into each other again – feeling the brunt of all kinds of complications.

5 out of 5

 🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
Wow! I cannot believe I actually read a second chance romance that I liked! If I could describe the look of absolute shock on my face while I’m writing this I would try to… but I can’t so you’ll just have to believe me.  Not sure what a second chance romance is? Well, it is the trope where you fall in love once with someone and there’s some sort of miscommunication or backstabbing that occurs… then years later you fall in love again. I always hate it! One day in DecemberLove and other words… It’s just not my thing! Yet here I am reading this book and loving it!
This book was funny, but the storyline was really strong. I very much enjoyed both of the main characters and would even be interested in reading a novella with some of the side characters. Tate’s mother, for instance, would be really interesting to read about!
This did have some steam but I would still recommend it to people who like a really low steam romance novel. There were multiple sex scenes in it that weren’t close door, but they were not very descriptive either. (I almost tried to rate this a 2 steam level but consulted my friendly steam rating in my sidebar here and decided it HAD to be a three).  Definitely on the lower end of seam levels for a Christina Lauren novel! [If you haven’t read my review of the unhoneymooners, check that out too because it has a very low steam level and is great for newbie romance readers!]
This book took place in Northern California.  My old stomping grounds!!! I wish that they would have mentioned specifically where in northern California this book took place, because I love to picture a specific place. I was imagining something kind of like Big Sur, but I would have loved to have a point of reference for that! Regardless the book does get points for even mentioning northern California!

what i didn't like
Literally the only thing I did not like about this book was that it needed an epilogue very badly. Very badly. Not even necessarily an epilogue but maybe just one last chapter. I actually thought that maybe they forgot a chapter in my advanced readers copy…that’s how much it needed it! I know it’s hard to believe I would still rate this at 5 starts but I’m hopeful that they will put an epilogue into the finished book. There is some major vengeance/sass/wit needed in the final chapter, that specifically has to be channeled toward the character who deserves it! Without that chapter the book is missing something… I still loved it, I read it over 48 hours and enjoyed every minute of it! But Christina and Lauren – if you’re reading this, please add a final chapter!

while reading you should
Do: reminisce about your dreams when you were in high school/ college.  (I’m personally not a fan of longing for the road not traveled- but who says you can’t try to get back into an old passion! …I’m talking about a hobby here not a person! haha)
Eat:  Strawberries… make a crepe, put them on a pancake, eat them on their own!
Listen to: playlist I created for this book on Spotify!

arc review

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My Favorite Half – Night Stand by Christina Lauren

my favorite half night stand.PNG

 

official blurb
Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single. So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic. But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

my blurb!
A frelationship goes awry when someone isn’t able to own up to their feelings.

4 out of 5

what i liked
Do you love a frelationship? Because I do.  What’s a frelationship, you ask?  Well it’s a made up word that is basically a friendship that is dysfunctional and basically functions as a relationship but either one or both members of duo don’t realize it.
Reid is so likable that it almost makes Millie less likable.  I know that’s kind of insane but I was rooting for Reid so hard, that Millie getting in her own way made me mad bc I was team Reid!
The writers (remember how I mentioned in my Dating You, Hating You review that Christian Lauren is a pen name for an author duo?) did an AMAZING job writing a friend group.  I mean, I loved it.  At first it might feel a little complicated because there are a lot of people to remember, but you get over that pretty quickly and by the end, each member of the crew has their own distinct personalities.
I recommend reading this book as an actual book and not an e-book (although I haven’t actually seen the e-book formatting) because there are some chat, text, and email communications that are formatted really well in the book and actually help you distinguish between different members of the friend group.
The ending was great- no spoilers but I personally appreciated the way it wrapped up.
This book was such a fast read for me. I would be excited to read it when I got in bed, but I would make myself put it down by 10pm so that I could get some good sleep time in.  Okay, fine, 1030pm! Sheesh!  I read it in 3 sittings and easily could have done it in one or two if I had the time.

what i didn't like
I hate characters who constantly get in their own way.  While I didn’t hate Millie, I needed her to mature faster than she did.
There were a couple of sex scenes in this book. The first one is SO steamy!!!! Then the next few- almost no steam!  I wish it would have been more consistent.  If it stayed steamy, I would’ve adjusted my review accordingly- and if it had less steam the whole time I would’ve done the same.  As is, it messes with who you can recommend the book too because the beginning is so much steamier than the rest of the book.

while reading you should
Do: take interest in someone else’s passions.  You’ll learn something just because the other person is so excited to talk about it!
Listen to: You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift
Eat: pizza

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The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

official blurb
Daisy Flattery is a free spirit with a soft spot for strays and a weakness for a good story. Why else would she agree to the outrageous charade offered by her buttoned-down workaholic neighbor, Linc Blaise? The history professor needs to have a fiancée in order to capture his dream job, and Daisy is game to play the role. But something funny happens on their way to the altar that changes everything. Now, with the midnight hour approaching, will Daisy lose her prince, or will opposites not only attract but live happily ever after?

my blurb!
A straight laced, typical truth teller decides to deceive everyone with a fake fiance.

3 out of 5

what i liked
I love a story like this. I love a good plot of pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend- I mean YESSSSS! (Hello, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before).
There were a lot of supporting characters that I really liked.  Chickie (worst name ever) was a fun character to read about.  She was complex in her own way.
I liked Daisy! She was quirky and fun and I loved how she attracted other people to her by being kind.  In case you didn’t know, Kind is the New Classy.
Lincoln’s name.  It was a shame he went by Linc with everyone – the nickname is fine, but Lincoln is so much better!

what i didn't like
Daisy had a few oddities about her character that I just didn’t buy into.  I couldn’t picture her at all.  Was she like a gypsy?  I don’t understand what the author was trying to do with her as a character- one time teacher, storyteller, liar, eccentric dresser, messy, broken things all over her house, but most of all a painter?  I just didn’t buy it all, what can I say?
I wasn’t obsessed with getting through this story.  I just didn’t read it and think, “EEEEEKK! I can’t wait for them to get together!” Even though the storyline is exactly my type!

while reading you should
Watch: A cinderella story
Listen to: Cinderella by Play
Eat: Casserole

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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