Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

I found another old review! This one is coming at you from November 2019! (What?! I was pregnant!)

get a life chloe brown

4 out of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Loved someone tackling chronic illness as a heroine! Seriously loved this aspect!  Chloe has fibromyalgia and chronic pain.  And in her words:  “fibromyalgia and chronic pain were invisible afflictions, so they were easy to dismiss.” I felt this quote in my bones!  (If you’re new here, I am an endometriosis sufferer).

This book also features an interracial couple.  Again, I’m team interracial couple because I’m in one and I’m a product of one! But do you remember ever reading books with interracial couples growing up? No! Because they weren’t around, but it’s another big perk of reading romance.  I finally get to see myself in the pages of a book!

This book shows the positives of going to therapy. We need more books like this!

This is gonna be a series with the next book being about her sister Danni. And I will read that one as well!

So many lines I loved in it- here are a few…

Chloe used cuteness to disguise her inner evil. Sort of like Professor Umbridge.

I climbed that tree like . . . like Lara Croft!”
“With sweaty cleavage and frequent, strangely sexual grunts?” Dani mused.
“With effortless expertise,” Chloe corrected. Inaccurately.

“That track is the biggest waste of vocal talent ever created.” Dani arched an eyebrow. “Darling. You act as though you’ve never heard a Miley Cyrus song.”

“They’re judgmental.”
“I had no idea that it was such a reprehensible trait. I expect to see you on the news soon, protesting the judiciary.”

As for Instagram, you really should get over your Too Cool for School reluctance and just sign up. This behavior is modern hipsterism.

Okay I could have done liks 7,000 more quotes but I think you get the jist.  This book was hilariously quoteable.

 

what i didn't like
The climax of the book was almost juvenile-y dramatic. Is love worth it? That was too much for me.

 

Content warnings for emotional and some physical abuse in a previous relationship- more description of the emotional than the physical. Lots of f bombs and crass language.

DuxSignature smallercopy

 

 

 

Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid

engagement and espionage

official blurb
Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged! But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear. Sabotage! Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

3.75 our of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

I loved diving back into the Winston brothers lives. I struggled through a lot of the “pennyverse” books so I was not sure how I would feel revisiting this world again, but in the end I was happy I did.

Cletus and Jenn are as adorable as ever. This was a different genre of book than the Winston brothers- I would call this a steamy cozy mystery, with the steam level being quite high.

I really liked this book! It was a little stressful for me (that’s normal with me and any suspense even if it’s minimal), even with it being pretty predictable. It was fun to try to piece together where this book intertwined with the other books in the timeline. I almost had to remember what I didn’t know yet.

One of the things that this book mentions is how rude Cletus is to Roscoe – I had no memory of this whatsoever! This is probably to be expected when you read 628183772 books in this universe but it was kind of funny to me that I didn’t remember that at all.

Like most PR books there are plenty of content warnings: abuse (emotional and physical), kidnapping, gun violence, attempted murder.

Overall I read this book quickly and really loved the time I got to spend in Green Valley. I loved seeing Cletus and Shelley interacting a lot.

One last complaint is the last chapter was from Cletus’ perspective and it felt as though it should’ve been from Jenn’s. it didn’t keep the same cadence or tone that Cletus’ chapters usually did.

While this is technically a stand alone novel I would not recommend it without reading Beard Science (but in all reality you should read the Winston brothersseries up through beard science and then read this book). And if you really wanted to go for it, it would give you additional knowledge of you read Ashley and Drew’s book (Beauty and the Mustache)  before the Winston brothers series. I know, that’s a lot before this but the series is on my required reading list for romance lovers, so really you should read it anyways.

while reading you should
listen to bluegrass music – may I suggest the civil wars?
Eat: a new cupcake from a local bakery.
Do: change your oil and have your tire pressure checked. (Cletus is a mechanic after all).

DuxSignature smallercopy

Always Only You (The Bergman Brothers #2) by Chloe Liese

always only you

 

official blurb
Ren: The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is. I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too. Frankie: I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about. Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

5 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 steam level

 

what i liked

Well that was perfectly delightful in every way. Soren is the book boyfriend of my dreams. I’m mildly obsessed with him. Chivalrous, saving himself for love, athletic, gorgeous, kind, thoughtful…oh did I mention he uses Shakespearean lingo instead of cursing? (Not to say that there isn’t cursing in the book, because there is). If someone is picturing him as an actor, let me know because I could NOT get a picture in my head!

Edit 7/23/2020: Okay Chloe, being the nicest author ever, sent me her mood board for inspiration behind Ren and Frankie! Okay technically it’s not a mood board but I really wanted to use that term.  Without further ado, here is the inspiration!

Screenshot_20200723-111711

Frankie is the author’s #ownvoices portrayal of an autistic heroine. She (Frankie not Chloe) also lived with physical disabilities that made her even easier for me to relate to being a chronic pain sufferer myself.  She was amazing. Witty, obsessed with Harry Potter…need I go on? (Don’t worry, if you’re irritated with JK Rowling, this was addressed super well in the book!)

Listen I just think the Bergman Brothers are just going to be like family to me. They will be another Winston Brothers family that I feel like I know, and I definitely love. I can see myself rereading all of the books in this series! (I know there are only two so far but they’re amazing so I’m taking that stance now). Ps. If you want to read my review for the first book in this series then check out Only When It’s Us right here.

I was smile reading so many times while I read this.  I would laugh out loud.  I would roll my eyes with Ren and cringe through my fingers through some embarrassing moments.  All of that to say that I was in this book while I was reading it!  

Tropes include: “Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.”

Seriously you guys, this series is gold. Liquid gold.  Okay… I don’t even know why I said that… but it’s a thing people say right? Anyways, it obviously made my list for Required Reading for Romance Lovers.  Read it! Read it!  …I mean, I think you should read it. 

while reading you should
Watch: Miracle. (I mean you should watch this movie at least once a year because it is one of my all time favorite movies.  But also this book has hockey in it so it works!)
Listen to: an audiobook of Pride and Prejudice
Do: Meet up with your book club.  Points if your book club is reading this steamy romcom.

DuxSignature smallercopy

 

 

 

Donut Disturb by Melissa Williams

3 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥🔥  steam level

Thank you to the author for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

what i liked
This book had some really funny moments. Cassidy’s inner dialogue made me laugh out loud.  It was a really quick read that definitely made me crave donuts!  

Ready for my favorite quotes?  I knew you were ready:

Were they…blasting country music?  Inconsiderate and bad taste. This was a nightmare, it had to be.

“Mom, you hate exercise.”
“No, I don’t!” she yelled.  “I’m very active.”
I rolled my eyes. By her definition, fast walking from the couch to the kitchen and back before Netflix started playing a new episode was “very active.”

what i didn't like
My biggest hold up with the book was how things were said on the page that I didn’t feel off the page.  Cassidy had some relationship hold ups that I didn’t get to learn about as a reader.  I didn’t feel Bax’s and Cassidy’s relationship develop even though I was reading it.  

Overall it was a quick fun read which was what I needed when I needed it!

DuxSignature smallercopy

 

40 – Love (There’s Something About Marysburg #2) by Olivia Dade

40 love

 

official blurb
This match is no game.  When a rogue wave strips Tess Dunn of her bikini top, desperate, half-naked times call for desperate, please-cover-me-kids-are-coming-closer measures. Enter Lucas Karlsson, AKA that flirty Swede in the water nearby. When he prevents her bare buoys from being exposed to fellow vacationers, even an ocean can’t drown the sparks that fly.  Lucas, a former top-level tennis pro now giving lessons at the resort, fled there after the abrupt, painful end to his injury-plagued career. But he’s finally ready to move on with his life—and after a few late-night, hands-on sessions with Tess, he’s eager to prove he’s the ace she wants.  But this match comes with challenges: She’s forty, and at twenty-six, he’s barely old enough to rent a car. Worse, they only have two weeks together before Tess returns to her assistant-principal life in Virginia. During that brief time, they’ll have to play hard, take a few risks, and find out whether their chemistry is a one-shot wonder…or whether they’re meant to be doubles partners for life.

4 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

40 love

 

what i liked
I really enjoyed this book!  It featured a lot of body positivity that was very enjoyable to read!  I would describe the tropes in this book as: age gap, vacation romance, and plus size heroine.
I’m honestly not sure if I’ve read a plus size heroine book that I’ve enjoyed this much before!  Some of the previous ones that I’ve read had a lot of the guy liking the girl despite of her size.  That was not the case with this book.  Our main man, Lucas, is totally into Tess and there is no “despite of” involved!
Another major pro for this book (no pun intended… but also I’m now proud of that pun) is that Lucas was a former pro tennis player. I’ve never read a tennis book before, but I LOVE tennis!!!  It is a bucket list item for me to attend every major tennis open.  So far I’ve done the US Open and it was amazing.  Oh… what’s that?  This is a book review and not me fangirling about Roger Federer?  Fine.  Well, lets just say that I loved that this book had a tennis storyline in it and I now want to read 210982083 other books that feature tennis!  (Let me know if you have any recommendations!)
This is my first Olivia Dade book but it sure won’t be my last.  I laughed out loud multiple times when reading this book.  The banter between the two characters was amazing.  I should also mention that i rarely root for a couple when they fall in love in a really quick time frame in a book.  I was rooting for Lucas and Tess! I think that just says something about Dade’s writing of the couple in general that you want to root for them.
As you can see, this is the second book in a series.  I actually didn’t even know that and it didn’t affect the flow of reading this book at all.  So it is safe to say that it is a stand alone book within a series!  (Btw, how cool is it that so many romance books do that? Why don’t other genres do that as often?)

what i didn't like
Tess talks about her goal to be the principal at her school. She talks about it a lot.  Too much.  Did I convey that point enough? Haha.  I liked that she had a professional goal but it was driven home too much for me.
Also, at one point in the book I lost steam a bit.  The dialogue slowed down and I found myself skimming a bit to try to reach some dialogue.  That doesn’t necessarily say anything about the writing style of the book because it could honestly have been my attention span while reading it.  But I feel it must me mentioned in my review!

while reading you should
Do: Play tennis.  It’s okay if you suck at it, it’s still fun!
Eat: a cupcake.  Preferably after you play tennis as a reward.
Watch: Borg vs McEnroe

when to read
This book is a total vacation read.  Summertime is even better.

arc review

DuxSignature

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!

DuxSignature smallercopy

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

DuxSignature smallercopy