Yours Truly, Cammie by SJ Sylvis

yours truly cammie

5 out of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS

official blurb
I follow one rule in life: Don’t get involved with a Marine. After this past year of heart-wrenching misery, and an entire childhood as daughter of one of the highest ranked officers in the Marine Corps, I’ve had enough of saying goodbye. I’ve had enough heartbreak to last me a lifetime. But in an attempt to avoid an awkward run-in with a previous blind date, whom I may or may not have abandoned mid-dinner, I found myself standing in an exam room with Lucas Wells. He was exceptionally handsome on the outside, but the second he started to run that egotistical mouth of his, I wanted to do one of two things: smack him or kiss him. Lucas Wells, the United States Marine, has me bending my rule in more ways than one. But the real question is, will I succumb to breaking my rule altogether, or will he break me before I even get the chance? This was a reread of this book for me. I loved it the first time and I still devoured it the second time.  (That’s such a weird sentence to write about a book that it almost makes me uncomfortable but it also made me laugh, so I kept it.)

what i liked
I love Luke.  Did SJ Sylvis choose his name because she’s a Gilmore Girls fan? I don’t know but I will pretend the answer is yes. (Even though we all know that I’m team Christopher).
Speaking of Gilmore Girls there is room full of sunflowers scene in this book that is VERY reminiscent to a room filled with daisies.  If you know, you know.
I liked Cammie’s BFF named Jojo. I like it when the characters have a good crew around them.
I recently started watching Hart of Dixie (which the author also watches)  and there’s a very lovable character in the show named Wade. He refers to the main character in the show as “Doc” the whole time.  And Luke in the book always refers to Cammie as “Doc” (even though she’s a nurse).  I personally liked this nickname! I know, I’ve complained a lot in the past about cutesie nicknames in romance novels. But I liked this one, what can I say?
This book is hilarious.  I laughed out loud a lot at how ridiculous Cammie’s train of thought was because I was so here for it!  Here are some examples:

“He was what you’d call a nice, tall glass of water. Actually, I almost felt as if I needed some water to moisten my now drying mouth. Jesus, take me now.”

“Whenever I’d acted bitchy (read as: beautifully sarcastic and witty) toward someone, it was only ever because I either: (1) knew the person really well, so they knew I was kidding, or (2) knew that I would never see them again.”

Trigger Warnings:
If you do not like reading a book with cussing, then this book is not for you.
If you do not like a book with a high steam level, this book is not for you. (4 out of 5 steam level according to my steam meter)
This book features the loss of a loved on, specifically a military loss.

I read this book quickly both times I read it. It even features multiple epilogues- You know I’m a sucker for an epilogue!

what i didn't like
I really love this book- hence the required reading on my romance novel list status.  I would say if there’s something that readers won’t like about this book it is maybe how little we actually know about Luke. Or maybe the way that Cammie deals with conflict.  I wasn’t bothered by either of these very much.  But I would TOTALLY be down with a novella from Luke’s perspective.  Maybe a second book featuring Luke’s brother featured in the epilogue and then Luke can be in it too?!  I know, I’m an idea girl- and I only require 2% of the commission from these ideas! (Just kidding, SJ Sylvis, write more about these two!!!! )

when to read
Because this is required reading- you can read it anytime. BUT I recommend it during warmer weather, or during a crazy rain storm.

while reading you should
Watch: Gilmore Girls and Hart of Dixie
Eat: chocolate chips
Do: prank someone
Listen to: Nothing But You by Bob Moses

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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 Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Remember me screaming about my love for The Friend Zone?  Well this book takes place after that one… it can definitely be read as a standalone book but honestly… why would you ever skip The Friend Zone?

arc review

happy ever after playlist

official blurb
Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back. Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

my blurb!
An amazing grieving girl falls for a famous world traveling boy…before she realizes she would have to travel all of the time too.

4.5 out of 5

 

🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
I loved this story! I read it really quickly… like in two sittings.  It had me hooked! I loved the love story and meet cute!  Revisiting Josh and Kristen from The Friend Zone added so much to the story!  The best part of this book was easily how in love Sloan and Jason were.  I kept thinking that the whole time I was reading it!  I think a lot of people who may not have bonded with Kristen as much in TFZ will love Sloan.  Jimenez wrote both characters really well and their personalities are so different from one another – I could just see a lot of people being #teamsloan.  I loved the closeness of Jason and his family in this book- that was a big highlight for me.  I hope to even see more glimpses of the family in future books!  (Hey, it’s a three book deal! Maybe book three will be about his family!)

what i didn't like
I think one takeaway from this book could be that the main couple was codependent.  It might be a turn off for some readers.  This was easily my favorite rockstar romance that I’ve ever read- in general that trope really doesn’t hit home for me.  With that being said- there were still moments in this book that I wanted to hurry the rockstar drama along.
There was a bit of mystery (strong word here… more like a plot point that is revealed later on in the story) regarding a character named Lola and I solved that really easily and early on.  It didn’t take away from the storyline per say – but I felt it should be noted.  Overall this book had high drama.  I didn’t love this aspect of it, but I adored the love story so much that it was able to drive the story home for me and still had me adoring this book.

while reading you should
Do: Go through a car wash
Do: Make a new playlist!
Listen to: …well the entire playlist that the author includes at the back of the book. but if you’re too lazy to flip there I’ll include one song… Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard
Eat: A cupcake. And if you’re close to Nadia’s cupcakes – go there! (The author owns that bakery!)

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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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My Bare Lady by Piper Sheldon

my bare lady

 

official blurb
Suzie Samuels is the only thing standing between Clifford and his life’s work. All he has to do is change everything about her. Perception creates reality and Clifford Rutledge needs the irascible stripper to prove it. Suzie Samuels is set to prove once and for all she’s more than Short Fuse Suze, stripper for the Black Demons and renowned motorcycle arsonist. If all it takes is hard work, then Suzie knows how to work it hard. But Suzie’s scandalous spirit tests Clifford’s resolve. And Clifford’s buttoned-up bullying is driving Suzie bonkers. Can Clifford move past their differences long enough to pull off the impossible task of changing the bare lady into a fair lady? More importantly, as perceptions shift and priorities change, will he want to?

1 out of 5

I didn’t get far enough into the book for an accurate steam rating. I feel confident from the subject matter saying that it was at least 3+

The premise of this book is supposed to be a take on My Fair Lady. Yes, please…sign me up! Unfortunately the heroine and I just couldn’t seem to bond. I’ll start by saying the heroine in this book is a stripper working at a club called the G-spot. She had some tie in with Jethro Winston (from ____) and had joined a rival motorcycle club of the Iron Wraiths (called the black demons). If you’re a still tracking with me, then you’re about 7% into the book. She doesn’t see a way out of the life she has but thinks of herself as better than most of the other strippers there. I love the idea of a my fair Lady retelling but this premise was a bit much for me. I quickly realized I wasn’t the right reader for this book.

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No Whisk, No Reward (Donner Bakery #3) by Ellie Kay

no whisk no reward

 

official blurb
How do you know if a risk is worth taking? If you knew, there wouldn’t be any risk. Following a disastrous appearance on a televised baking show, Sophie Copeland is certain things can’t get any worse. Several calamities later, Sophie finds herself in Green Valley, Tennessee with no plan, no place to stay, and no prospects. But at least she has a temporary seasonal arrangement with the famed Donner Bakery. And that’s something, right? It’s not permanent, and it’s not a home, but it’s still something. Enter Joel Barnes, a Green Valley mystery, wrapped in rumors, and a whispered connection to the local notorious biker gang. Joel’s got a name for being bad news, but he also has an apartment for rent. Intrigued by the dichotomy of Joel’s reputation and sexy southern pull, Sophie can’t help but be tempted, even though she knows—given her (bad) luck—she should stay far, far away. . . Yet as everyone knows, without risk, there’s no reward.

arc review

4 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level
The steam level is a four. There are *I think* two sex scenes and both take place after he 75% mark. They can be easily skipped if the steam level is too high for you!

Okay this Penny-verse book was a lot of fun to read. It had what I was looking for: a quirky and sassy heroine, strong female friendships, LOTS of overlapping scenes with the Winston brothers (specifically Cletus and Jen but also Beau). It also featured overlap of other main/side characters from the previous Donner Bakery series! (Tempest and Joy!)
There was a lot of baking in this, which I am all here for! After just finishing the most recent series of The Great British Bakeoff, I needed to get my fix in still and this did it! Where are my GBB fans?!
Now remember how I haven’t loved the whole biker gang being a main plot point in a lot of these spin off books- it was featured in this book but done really well!
I think this might’ve been the longest smartypants romance I’ve read yet- in fact I’ve read some Goodreads reviews mentioning the length. I wasn’t bothered by it! I was enjoying the ride even if it slowed down my books read for the month!
The humor in this book was so enjoyable to me… I mean, wanting to start a bakery called Yeast Affection?! Haha!
This is a debut book for this author and I will definitely read more in the future!

Where does this take place in the Pennyverse? I think it takes place after the last Winston Brothers book- but perhaps it is after Dr. Strange Beard.

when to read
This book would be great to read over the fall and winter!

while reading you should
There are a LOT of songs mentioned in this book so here are a few that you can add to your playlist while reading this book:
-Wake me Up Before You Go Go by Wham
-Africa by Toto
-Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver
– Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
-Motownphilly by Boyz 2 Men
Watch: a Paul Newman movie… specifically Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
If that movie isn’t your style you always have the option of watching 2 Fast 2 Furious (which, let’s be honest, is my choice out of the two for sure)
Eat: pie!

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Not The Girl You Marry by Andie J Christopher

not the girl you marry.PNG

 

arc review

*This title releases Nov 12, 2019

official blurb
Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings. Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

1 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

This book started off really strong for me.  Reading the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book- you got a taste of why the author started out writing this book to begin with.  In this case the author wrote specifically about being biracial and dating what the difficulties she faced with that.  Being biracial myself, I was really excited to read this book – you know I’ve mentioned one of the coolest things about reading the romance genre is getting to read characters that are more like me on the pages of a book!  Well… it was a short lived excitement- as I dove into the pages I found the main character to be someone who constantly brought up race.  Constantly.  My interpretation while reading was not that the people around her were constantly judging her race necessarily, or that she didn’t fit it. But rather that she was unable to move on from periods in her life where she was judged.  I just really needed her to go to therapy… but that wasn’t supposed to be the takeaway in the book.

Remember the movie How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days? Well this book is basically a rip off of that movie if you switched the gender roles and made the guy the jerk and the girl the one who needed to stay in the relationship.  Reading about a douche guy who I’m supposed to be rooting for, just didn’t work for me. I rolled my eyes so many times in the beginning and got so tired of “private parts” references… seriously.

If you didn’t know it, I’m not into nicknames in books. It VERY rarely works for me… I think the only time I can remember it working for me was in With This Heart by R.S. Grey.  Well in this book he immediately starts calling her Duchess… and then later explains because she’s propper/classy.  These are not words that I would ever use to describe her.  In fact part of the whole entire storyline is that she is using him to be taken more seriously at work because she’s known as a bachelor party event planner instead of a classy event planner…

I could go on and on but why?  This book was rough.  In the end, I decided to DNF this book because life is too short for books you’re not enjoying (and I’ve been pushing through WAY too many bad books right now).

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