Reviews

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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Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid

knitting 1

official blurb
There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit. After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store.  To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan—aka Sir McHotpants—witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

my blurb!
A girl with a talent for random facts and lacking some social cues falls for a mysterious guy dubbed Sir McHotpants.

4.5 out of 5

                                                            🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow did I miss reading Penny Reid books! I think this is my last free month of Kindle unlimited and I haven’t decided if I’m going to pay for the subscription or not but this month the entire knitting in the city series by Penny Reid is free on Kindle unlimited! Do you guys remember how much I loved the Winston Brothers series? I actually loved them more than my ratings even show you, because I’ve missed hanging out with that family! so, I should probably go back and move up the ratings for that series!

This book featured another dynamic leading woman! It wasn’t overtly mentioned that she was on the spectrum but her characteristics were that of having a photographic memory, reciting a lot of facts in social situations, and being oblivious to people’s intentions in social situations. She was incredibly likable, self-deprecating, smart, beautiful and earnest!
I loved the main guy in it as well (Quinn)! He was a bad communicator but I was rooting for him nonetheless…. which is very rare for me when it comes to poor communication. I also loved his name- you know how I am about names in books- they’re not always good!
Similar to the Winston Brothers series this book had a bit of crime drama involved as well. Not really a spoiler but the women saved themselves and I loved that aspect!
Okay let’s get down to the steam! Penny Reid has always written really high-steam novels (from the books that I’ve read of hers so far) it’s one of the reasons the Winston Brothers series wasn’t all five stars for me because the steam level was too high. This book was such low steam! There was plenty of kissing and you knew that they were sleeping together but you didn’t experience it at all. There was a “closed door” to all of the bedroom scenes and I was shocked! So for all of you romance lovers looking for a follow-up to the unHoneymooners for a low steam, check this book out!
I should also mention that I read this in its entirety in one night, staying up till about 2 in the morning and I have no regrets.

what i didn't like
There was a storyline with Janie’s ex-bf that I just could not get into.  Don’t you just hate it when you’re friends are still in random communication AT ALL with their shady ex’s? That’s how I felt in certain scenes and I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t as bad as The Bright Side of Disaster, but it was still bothersome.

while reading you should
Do: math exercises. Might as well download a new app onto your phone and start remembering rudimentary math skills!
Listen to: Into you by Ariana grande
Eat: a sandwich… Sandwiches seem like good go to meals for the working woman right?

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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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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Iris Morland (The Flower Shop Sisters #2)

he loves me he loves me not

 

official blurb
I’ve always lived my life by the rules. Unlike my two sisters, I’m the good one. The responsible one. Going outside my comfort zone is when I wear red lipstick before five PM. That comfort zone of mine? It’s smashed to smithereens on a wild night in Las Vegas when I met—and married—Liam Gallagher. After one shot of tequila, then two, then too many to count, a good girl’s rules tend to disappear. And so do her panties, and her bra, and various other articles of clothing when she’s with an Irishman who knows his way around a woman’s body. Now my husband wants us to stay married. For six months. He says it’ll be worth my while. Considering our chemistry underneath the sheets, I can’t say that he’s wrong.
Liam isn’t safe, though. Liam definitely isn’t comfortable. He’s like the male equivalent of wearing red lipstick in the daytime all wrapped up in an irresistible, dangerous package. Yet this stubborn Irishman isn’t about to let me go, drunken Princess Bride-themed Vegas wedding or no. Now I have to decide if I’m brave enough to break the rules for love.

my blurb!
After drunkenly getting married in Vegas, two people decide to keep up the facade for 6 months, fooling everyone around them…maybe even themselves.

arc review

3.75 our of 5

                                                               🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam

 

what i liked
I did a buddy read with Kelissa from @ksquaredreads, she also read the first book in this series (Petal Plucker).  When I was talking to her about this one I realized I didn’t laugh nearly as much in this book as I did during Petal Plucker but I still felt like it maybe rated higher for me earlier on.
I loved Mari…who I kept pronouncing as Marie instead of Mary (I was constantly correcting myself!)  I appreciated her practicality.  I loved any description that features her ex-fiance.  From him driving a prius, to his sex buttons.  (That’s not as weird as it sounds.  Okay it was still really weird but… you’re just going to have to read the book).
This book also featured one of my favorite storylines- a fake relationship.  I know, I know, there are a million books with this but it never gets old to me!!! It is a classic storytelling maneuver and you can’t change my mind! I also love when you get to observe the characters sharing a living space.  There is something about proximity that always builds the tension and it’s great!
It was good to get scenes of Dani and Jacob’s life from Petal Plucker.  While technically I believe this is a stand alone book, I still recommend reading Petal Plucker first so you can get the full experience while you read this one!

what i didn't like
I didn’t love Liam. I’m not sure why I didn’t, to be honest with you. But I wasn’t swooning for him.  The plot line was a little like Roomies– but I loved Calvin and I just didn’t share a fictional relationship with Liam.  This is a big bummer when it comes to reading romance novels – you really want to ship the characters together.
The bedroom scenes were a bit too spicy for me.  This is a 5 star steam level for vulgar word usage and high steam bedroom scenes.  It is marketed as a steamy romcom so this won’t be in the negative for a lot of readers- it was just a bit too steamy for this particular reader.

while reading you should
Listen to: When You Move by Parachute
Watch: Flower Shop Mysteries series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

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Petal Plucker by Iris Morland (The Flower Shop Sisters #1)

petal plucker

 

Okay this is insane that I’m writing this review right now because I read this book in April. April I tell you! But alas, I really enjoyed this book and I felt like it needed to review it.

official blurb
Confession: I, Dandelion “Dani” Wright, am twenty-six years old and have yet to be deflowered. No man has hosed my hyacinth. Fondled my freesia. Diddled my daffodil.  You get the point.  My excuse? I was too busy running my family’s flower shop and winning floral design competitions. Suddenly that whole pesky virginity thing becomes a big deal when Jacob West walks back into my life. The boy I once loved. The same boy who humiliated me when he stood me up for prom.  This Jacob is no boy, though: he’s all man now—confident, charming, and so sexy my metaphorical blossoms are getting scorched. I can almost forget I’m supposed to hate him forever. Almost. To make things worse, he’s my main competition now, since he took over his parents’ flower shop. If I give into this sizzling attraction between us, it could jeopardize everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve.  But if I’m not careful, he might not just be the first man to pluck my petals—he might also be the only man to capture my heart.

my blurb!
a semi second chance romance with rival flower shop owners.

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

what i liked
If my blurb sounded like the premise for a Hallmark movie, that’s because it should be.  But don’t let that sentence full you, this book would only be made into a Hallmark movie if the screen writer eliminated a lot of steamy sex scenes.  I can just see a Hallmark screenwriter blushing the entire time while reading this book.
Dani- short for Dandelion- was so freaking funny. I laughed out loud SO many times while reading this book.  She is also semi awkward, or rather avoids situations awkwardly so I did quite a bit of cringe reading/ reading through my fingers.
This book has a lot of flashback scenes- which I don’t always love in a book. Some books can pull it off and some just can’t.  I loved it in this case!
There’s a girl named Tiffany in this book who I was total burn-book mean-girling while I was reading it.  I feel like that’s a sign of a good book when the protagonists enemies become your enemies.
My feelings while reading this book were ALL over the map.  I would be so mad at the other lead character, Jacob, and cursing his future children.  And then I would be accepting his apology on behalf of Dani because I loved him so much.  Don’t you dare judge my complicated relationship with Jacob!!
Fun fact- there is a bonus chapter for this book that you can get when you subscribe to Iris Morland’s newsletter!

what i didn't like
Because of my complicated relationship with Jacob I couldn’t give this 5 stars.  That’s the thing about second chance romances for me, I get so upset about the origin and validity of the initial breakup that I am still holding onto that by the time they get together in the book! I know it’s irrational but that’s the truth! These characters have had YEARS to move on from the hurt, but I only read about it a few hours prior and I’m still mad!
Also Jacob’s bedroom talk was a bit too much for my liking.

Anyways, you should read this series from Iris Morland if you like a steamy romcom.  And these are STEAMY.  So prepare yourself accordingly!  If you like R.S. Grey humor and Penny Reid steam level then these books are for you!

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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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