Reviews

Faking it Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

faking it under the mistletoe

official blurb
Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear. Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all. So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes. Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving. And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final. In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle. She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake relationship thing. Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

my blurb!
A Hallmark loving intern pretends to be dating her boss when she sees how upset he is at a company event after his breakup.

5 out of 5

🔥🔥.5 out of 5 steam level

This book is REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS!

I’d seen this book around Instagram and people seemed to almost entirely love it! So when I snagged a Kindle unlimited deal for a few months I knew this one needed to be at the top of my list!

Now it opens the book with a trigger warning and I’ll open my review with that as well- this book has a trigger warning involving a sexual predator storyline and sexual harassment. It is not descriptive or suspenseful in this storyline.

what i liked
I read this book in one sitting and loved it! There are Hallmark movie references and even a reference to Lifetime making Christmas movies! (If you follow me on Instagram… And you should!… You know I’ve been watching and reviewing ALL of the Christmas movies this year! Check out my Instagram highlights!)
There was even a reference to my FAVORITE bakery in all of New York City, Le Vain Bakery. (Sidenote I make these knock off cookies and they’re amazing. You’re welcome.) Olivia, our heroine, is struggling to make ends meet. She is sassy and confident in personality and in her body (this is rare for me to mention in a heroine because it’s honestly rare to read about!) Her personality flaw would be that she doesn’t like disappointing people and will help anyone to the point of meddling.
The plot is funny and moves quickly, I was surprised how many drama points fit into it without it bothering me remotely.
Asher, our main man, was really overly grumpy in the beginning. It almost turned me off of him but I’m so glad I stuck with him because I ended up loving him!

what i didn't like
My biggest wish list is that I wish there was a chapter from his perspective from what he thought of her in the beginning or when he started to fall for her… Maybe a reminiscing chapter where he tells her! Fingers crossed there will be a newsletter with a novella or something!!!

 

This book features an enemies to lovers trope, a Grinch trope, fake relationship and coworkers trope!

when to read
This book is best read between Thanksgiving and Christmas. BUT, full disclosure, I read it the day after Christmas. So I think in general it should be a winter read!

while reading you should
Listen to some of my favorite Christmas music!
-Johnnyswim’s Christmas Album
-Ben Rector’s Christmas Album
-The Christmas Song by Lauren Daigle
-Amy Grant’s Christmas Album
-The Pentatonix Christmas Album
(okay, you got me. I love Christmas music! What can I say?!)

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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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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

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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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Oopsie Daisy by Iris Morland

oopsie daisy

arc review

official blurb
You know when you meet your new professor, and he ends up being the same man you had a one-night stand with three months ago? Okay, maybe not. Let me explain. I hadn’t intended to sleep with my professor. I might be known as the impulsive, prankster daughter in my family, but I’m not insane. I just wanted to have some fun in Ireland at my sister’s wedding, and maybe lose my virginity, too. When I met Lochlann Gallagher at a pub one night, I couldn’t resist him. He was hot, Irish, and entirely set on seducing me. One unforgettable night under the sheets with him, and my V-card went up in smoke. Well, that night had one itty bitty consequence because Lochlann totally made my eggo preggo. And if this story isn’t crazy enough, Lochlann is not just my baby daddy: he’s now my professor and my advisor for grad school. Somehow we have to figure out a way not to reveal this rapidly gestating secret while resisting the explosive attraction between us.Except there’s just one more complication to this story: I think I’m totally falling for my baby daddy. Oopsie daisy.

 

3.5 stars
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
I read this book very quickly and laughed quite a few times throughout. A lot of double chuckles happening… You know, “haha!” I really enjoyed the writing style, it was conversational – and that’s my favorite kind of narrator!  I feel like I could read one thousand books with this kind of narrator and not get tired of it.

what i didn't like
The storyline became a bit stressful to me at times, because of the whole secret baby. That involved some secret keeping, and some poor communication. Being pregnant right now with my third, there were some pregnancy inconsistencies that were obvious to me but would probably not be obvious to the everyday reader. Overall the novel was too steamy/dirty talky for me, but it is marketed as a steamy romantic comedy!

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His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey

HRHEbooksCover (1)

arc review

3.5 stars

🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

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

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

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

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

20190718_GVL02_Crime and Periodicals_Everly_KDP_FINAL

arc review

official blurb
In Green Valley, Tennessee everybody knows everybody, but nobody knows Sabrina Logan. Sabrina has been hiding in plain sight for years. Living her life inside of books, dutifully helping her family, and hoping no one will notice her. So far? Mission accomplished! Yet when sexy—and distrustful—sheriff, Wyatt Monroe returns to town with his daughters, he definitely notices the quiet librarian everyone else overlooks. The single dad can’t seem to shake thoughts of shy Sabrina. Without quite understanding the impulse, Wyatt makes his mission finding her again, so he can . . . well, he’ll just have to reckon with that later. What Wyatt discovers is a woman who trusts too easily, but who’s afraid to live. Trust doesn’t come easily to Wyatt. But living? That’s never been a problem. And he’d sure like to show her how.

2 out of 5🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

Well I made it to 43% on this book before I finally decided to DNF (did not finish) it. I just could not get into this one.
I couldn’t identify with either main character at all. They were definitely supposed to be likable but won’t be making my list of fictional friends.  Sabrina I would read about and sigh or think… this is stressful.  And Wyatt…he was written to be a swoonworthy single dad – but I’ll reserve my swoons in that category for the next Hallmark movie I watch. (We all know there’s like a 1 in 3 chance that a Hallmark movie will feature a sweet and caring single dad).

Truth be told, I never made it to a steamy sex scene in this book so my steam level may not be accurate. From a pure jargon assessment I would consider this a three steam.

The truth is that I could’ve kept reading this book- in fact I’m the past I would’ve! But I’ve recently made a new rule that if the book I’m reading makes me only want to pick up the book on occasion- then I can DNF it. Life is too short to push through books you’re not loving!

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