Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

Summary:
Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success.
From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.
Review:Kiss My Cupcake
Kiss My Cupcake
is a romance novel full of sweetness. Buttercream & Booze is Blaire’s dream come true, but now she has to make sure it’s a success. So, when construction starts next door at The Knight Cap, Blaire can’t help but be annoyed. She goes to confront whoever is causing her brand-new glasses to fall off their shelves and smash. This is the start of their rivalry. The pranks and antics of glitter bombs and fake poop ensue. But when a bigger competitor comes along that will affect both of their businesses, they band together to host events and attract new customers. I really loved this part of the story. I liked their rivalry; it was fun and lighthearted even if Blaire took it a little too seriously sometimes. Their relationship developed into more in a way that I really liked. I was easily invested in their romance. I liked their businesses too. Ronan is running his grandfather’s bar, The Knight Cap, and adding some new things like ax throwing and brewing his own beers. I thought the history of the bar was really sweet. I liked that it was a part of his family and that Ronan had a history with it too. I also liked the concept of Buttercream and Booze. Cupcakes and fancy drinks are absolutely something I’d like to do. I would totally show up for one of Blaire’s trivia night.
I think a lot of people will really like this one, but I did have some issues with it. The first is Blaire’s attitude. She has a really complicated family. They’re wealthy because of their own high-end restaurants. But Blaire wants to do her own thing and she wants to do it without their help (because their help usually comes with strings). But she talks about how she’s done all of this on her own, except that she hasn’t. She found her passion for baking while she was schooling in France, a trip funded by her parents. So, while yes, Buttercream and Booze is something she’s doing all on her own, her life and education were all funded by her parents so I wouldn’t really consider her to be ‘doing this all on her own.’ Also, she always has the option to ask her parents for their help or to go work for them. She’s pretty privileged and I don’t think she really acknowledged that. I also want to mention that she’s pretty judgmental. When she first met Ronan, he’s wearing a plaid shirt and she makes a comment about how he’s a ‘flannel-wearing hipster.’ She was quick to judge and sometimes harsh with those judgments.
Overall, I was able to look past the things I didn’t like about Blaire and enjoy the story. She definitely wasn’t my favorite female lead and I ended up enjoying the story well enough. It was sweet and entertaining.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Review:
A hacktivist and a cat café owner decode the friend zone in this romantic comedy from the author of Undercover Bromance.
Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.
Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush.
Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.
Review:Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #3)
Crazy Stupid Bromance
is the newest book in the Bromance Bookclub series. I love the concept of this series, where men figure out how to be better to the women they have feelings for by reading and learning from romance novels they read together and discuss. I think this book had a good combination of the romance between Alexis and Noah, and the bromance bookclub gang. I liked that the book club was there for Noah when he knew he’d made a mistake and they helped him figure out what to do next.
Alexis is a character we met in previous books. She’s one of the people that we learned in the last book was sexually harassed by a celebrity chef she used to work for. She spoke out about this harassment along with a few other women. She’s cultivated her car café into a safe space for other women that have been assaulted or harassed. She organized things like yoga classes and such to help others after she learned things that helped her. I liked that this was a part of the story. It wasn’t the whole story, not overtaking anything, but it was there. It wasn’t brushed aside or just mentioned once. It was a part of Alexis, so it was a part of the story.
As for the mysterious sister, and the father that Alexis never met that needs an organ donation, I don’t know how I felt about this. I liked that it was something close to the author’s heart (there’s an author’s note about her reasoning for choosing to write about organ donation). But it felt out of place in a romance novel.
Overall, I still am not totally sure how I felt about this book and that’s very clear in this review. I really liked Noah and Alexis together. Their friends to lovers romance was sweet and I really enjoyed seeing them take that step past friends. I read this book quickly and enjoyed it while I was reading it. I think most that like the friends to lovers trope will enjoy this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
A Betrayal…
Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.
A Choice…
Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.
A Secret…
But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash, #2)Review:
Is this a new favorite series of mine? Yes. Was Armentrout already a favorite author of mine? Yes. So, was this totally a surprise? No, not really.
I’m not going to go too deep into a summary like I do in some reviews because this is the second book in a series and I don’t want to spoil anything. So, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire follows Poppy and Casteel as Poppy has had the world she knows completely upended. She’s learned things about the kingdom she grew up in that are horrifying and change everything for her. That’s about all you’re getting because most of the details of this are spoilers for book one.
Poppy is my queen. I love her with my whole heart. She’s been hurt many times. In her childhood, she witnessed her parents killed. She learned to fight so that she would never be defenseless again. This was a huge asset in this book because she proves again and again that she’s not someone to be fucked with. I want to reread this book again just to count how many times she stabbed Casteel or threatened to stab him. I thought it was really interesting that Poppy escaped the confinement of being the Maiden only to find herself confined once again in a completely different situation. I loved the development of her new confinement. She proved herself a useful ally and I loved seeing Poppy finally take her life into her own hands. Seeing her finally get to make choices for herself and what she wanted made me so happy.
Now, Casteel. I love him. I understand why Poppy is so mad at him, but I love him. I think it was really interesting that Armentrout used the secret keeping trope (which I usually hate) to create a huge conflict between Poppy and Casteel and then have them work through the lies and the deceptions. I was fascinated seeing Poppy figure out how to trust Casteel again after the lies he told her. I loved how determined Casteel was. He wanted Poppy. He wanted to save his brother. He wanted to save his kingdom. But his plans all change when he actually meets Poppy. He figures out a potential way to get all of the things that he wants. And I think that really spoke to who Casteel is as a person and a leader. I just love him with my whole heart.
Overall, I’m obsessed with this series. I think the world building is so well done and Armentrout has built a world that I’m infatuated with. I think this history of the world and how that history has been changed in the minds of the people is so interesting. I think the Gods are also very interesting. The fact that they’re all ‘sleeping’ is so intriguing and I cannot deal with how this story ended. I also have to mention there are a handful of steamy sex scenes and they were exactly what I wanted them to be. I think it was all around an excellent book and as I said in my review for the first book, if you like fantasy romance you will love this.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

GoodReads Summary:
Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.
When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.
Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.
Well Played (Well Met, #2)Review:
I went into this book with pretty low expectations because when it was first released (not too long ago) all I saw were negative reviews. This was upsetting because I adored the first book in this series, but I knew I was going to read it anyway. I’m actually glad I went into the book this way because I think it made me enjoy it even more. I really liked Well Played.
The story follows Stacey who has lived in Willow Creek for her whole life, except for a short period of time for college. She always planned to leave and live somewhere else. She had goals and dreams. She even had a plan and a job lined up, but then her mother got sick. Stacey returned home to help care for her mother. Even though her mother is doing much better, Stacey is still scared that something will happen if she leaves again. But that doesn’t stop her from wanting more than Willow Creek. She is happiest during Faire season. For the past few summers, she’s had a fling with Dex, one of the members of The Dueling Kilts (a band that comes to the Faire every summer). After Simon and Emily get engaged, Stacey can’t help but feel lonely, like she wants more. The theme of this book is really just Stacey wanting more from her life, more than Willow Creek, more in her love life, just more. So, we follow her as she tries to find that more.
I didn’t love the catfishing aspect of the story, but I think it was better that the reader knew Stacey wasn’t really emailing and texting with Dex. I think it would have been more upsetting if the reader had been surprised alongside Stacey. I also think it was super obvious who it was that Stacey was really talking to and, again, I liked this. I think it was a good way to get the reader invested because we knew who it was that she was really falling for. It gave the reader a chance to get invested in their relationship, even though there were secrets. I usually don’t like the secret keeping trope, but I didn’t mind it so much in this book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I am so excited to read the third book (Mitch!!) when it comes out. I enjoyed the ups and downs of Stacey’s romance. I liked how her friendship with Emily, Simon, and Mitch were included. I liked that we got to see the family dynamics with her parents. I also absolutely loved the sex scenes. They were super good. I basically liked everything about this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
A Maiden…
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
A Duty…
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
A Kingdom…
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.
From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash, #1)Review:
How am I supposed to succinctly explain why and how much I loved this book? Armentrout is one of my favorite authors and has been for many years. So, I bought this immediately after it came out, but waited until the second book came out so I could binge read them.
From Blood and Ash follows Poppy. Poppy is the Maiden, which means there are many restrictions on the things she’s allowed to do. This includes who she’s allowed to speak to, touch, and many other medieval ideas. Poppy does her best to follow all of the rules set for her, but she wants more from her life. She has wants and desires. One of the biggest is that she wants to help defend herr kingdom. One of her guards, Vikter, has spent years teaching her how to fight. When Poppy was a child her parents were killed and she never wants to be defenseless like that again. So, she learns to fight and she can’t always stop herself from doing things she probably shouldn’t. When her close friend and guard is killed defending her, she gets a new guard, Hawke. The time she spends with Hawke and the things they talk about lead Poppy to start questioning he role as Maiden and her whole life.
I’m going to stop my summary there because things get pretty complicated after Poppy and Hawke meet. I loved this book. I adored Poppy and I want to reread this book already. Poppy is a fighter. She fights for others before she will fight for herself. She accepts punishments she doesn’t deserve so that others she cares for won’t face punishments. She has a huge heart despite having been treated so poorly by so many people. I love Poppy so much. I also love Hawke. I thought the secrets he was keeping were so interesting. I just wanted to know more about what he knew. Hawke was just all around a fascinating character. There were so many clues about who he really was and I think Armentrout did such a great job of giving us clues and slowly revealing the truth.
Overall, this world and its politics were absolutely fascinating. I just wanted to learn more. I loved the characters. I think Armentrout did such a great job of giving the reader characters we could easily be invested in, and developing relationships, both platonic and romantic, that we would die for. I am very excited to have read this book and I immediately jumped into the second book, so I will have a review for the second book shortly. I also am eagerly awaiting book three. If you like fantasy romance, this will not disappoint.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

GoodReads Summary:
Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.
How to Walk AwayReview:
How to Walk Away was a beautiful story. Margaret has a fear of flying. So, her boyfriend surprising her with a plane ride shortly before he was supposed to test for his pilot’s license is like her worst nightmare. She agrees to the ride despite her fears. He proposes while flying, but instead of a happy celebration they had planned, the plane crashes as they’re trying to land.
This story focuses on Margaret’s time in the hospital after the plane crash as she’s recovering. Everything she had planned for her life has changed. I can’t speak to the accuracy of what Margaret goes through as I’ve never been through a traumatic life altering event like her. But as an outside observer all of the things Margaret was thinking and feeling seemed realistic. She has ups and downs, feels good some days and despairs others. I think the writing was well done and really made me feel what Margaret was feeling.
I didn’t expect this to turn into a romance, but I’m not mad about it. I really liked that this story continued after her time in the hospital. We learned about the plan she had for herself, but then we got to watch her figure out what to do next, to think about what she really wants from her life. I liked seeing her get as better as she was going to get and doing what she needed to do to create a new plan for her future.
Overall, I enjoyed this story was more than I thought I was going to. It was a beautiful story about finding a new path, and maybe finding love on that path. I will definitely be reading more books by Center.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

fullsizeoutput_3401

GoodReads Summary:
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters, #2)Review:
Take a Hint, Dani Brown was exactly what I wanted it to be. I loved Chloe’s story so I was very excited to read this one. In this book, Dani, a black, bisexual woman, asks the universe (I don’t know how else to put it, but it involves some witchy things that I enjoyed) for the perfect friends with benefits. Enter Zafir. He’s a security guard in the building she teaches in. They flirt constantly and I adored their banter. When her building has an evacuation drill (she didn’t catch the email saying it was a drill) she gets stuck in an elevator and mildly panics. Zafir, outside and making sure the drill is going as it should, realizes that Dani hasn’t come out of the building yet. He goes back in for her. He comes out of the building carrying her and a student gets a video and they go viral.
Zafir (with a suggestion from his niece) realizes that this could be an opportunity to raise awareness about something he does. He coaches a rugby team of teens and while he teaches them rugby, he also teaches them how to manage their emotions. I loved this aspect of the book. Zafir deals with anxiety (which is a prominent topic in the book) and it’s wonderful to see him talk about his experiences in therapy and managing his own anxiety. So, he asks Dani to be his fake girlfriend.
Dani, on the other hand, sees this as the universe granting her which for the perfect friends with benefits candidate. They have incredible chemistry and when he asks her to fake date him, she thinks it won’t be too hard to get it to go a bit further.
I loved everything about this book. Dani is working toward her Ph.D. and also working on getting ready to go speak at an event alongside one of her idols. She has a tendency to let herself be consumed by her work. This has negatively impacted a relationship in the past, so she has all these ideas of why she can’t be in a relationship. But the progress that she and Zafir make together was so heartwarming. Zafir shows her what a healthy relationship is supposed to be like and Dani gives Zafir the happily ever after that he loves to read about. I totally loved that he was a man who loves to read romance. There’s so much hate on romance as a genre that it was so nice to see this in a book. I cannot wait for the third book and I will recommend this series forever and ever.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

fullsizeoutput_3401

GoodReads Summary:
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.
As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.
With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?
Something to Talk AboutReview:
Something to Talk About follows Jo and Emma who work together. Emma is Jo’s assistant. After Jo invites Emma to an awards show and they’re seen on the red carpet together. From there the rumors are relentless. Jo is a pretty well-known woman, but she’s never commented on her love life before and doesn’t plan to do so now. Emma doesn’t totally understand this, but she goes with it.
I think what I loved most about this book was the slow burn. It’s not totally clear if they have feelings for one another, even to themselves. I think I just really enjoyed Jo and Emma figuring out their feelings they hadn’t realized were there until the rumors started. I also loved their passion for work. Jo is a writer (I think also a producer) and Emma is her assistant. Emma loves her job, which complicates her feelings.
I also really loved the family aspects of the story. Emma’s sister was great. I loved that both Emma and Jo made sure to make time for their nieces and nephews. I loved that they all got together to watch the kid’s sports games.
Overall, this was a really fun romance. I really liked both Jo and Emma, as a couple and as individuals. I liked that they knew one another so well. I enjoyed their banter and the fact that they just liked to be around one another before either of them even realized they had feelings. I just all around enjoyed this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

GoodReads Summary:
They call him the Duke of Ruin.
To an undaunted wallflower, he’s just the beast next door.
Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.
Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.
When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.
Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?
And a two-legged dog.
And a foul-mouthed parrot.
And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .
Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.
Not if he ruins her first.
The Wallflower Wager (Girl Meets Duke, #3)Review:
I just love this series. I immediately loved Gabriel Duke from the moment Penny met him while he was wearing nothing but a towel and she was trying to find her parrot. I already loved Penny from the previous books and I really enjoyed getting to know more about her history that led her to where she is now.
I also really enjoyed getting to know Duke. He’s just like another one of Penny’s strays that just need to be loved. He has a not so great past and I really enjoyed seeing him try to work through that with Penny’s help.
The two make a deal to get rid of all the animals that Penny has rescued. This is not as easy as Duke thinks it will be. I loved this aspect of the story because it keeps pushing the couple together, even though they’ve vowed not to be alone together. Their banter and antics were really the best part of this book.
I also really loved that we still got to see Penny’s friends. I loved that the couples from the two previous books are a part of this one too. I also really enjoyed that things were sort of set up a little bit to get the reader excited for the next book.
Overall, I loved this book. I love this series. These wallflowers are some of my favorite characters to read about. I love seeing them get their happy endings. This book was funny and full of love. I definitely recommend this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Winters

GoodReads Summary:
Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.
Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.
Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them?
To Have and to HoaxReview:
This book was fun. We follow James and Violet after they’ve been married five years. But something happened four years ago, something that was supposed to be mysterious and it was because we didn’t find out what the fight was about until about halfway. But it was a bit repetitive. The way both James and Violet talked about their fight, they both said the same things over and over. That was a little annoying, but it’s a small thing.
I was anticipating more hilarity from the premise saying that they were going to go back and forth essentially lying to one another, but it wasn’t as fast-paced as I thought it would be. Though it was slow, I still enjoyed it. The end third of the book was the best. When the couple finally acknowledge that they know what the other has been up to is when things got interesting for me.
Overall, this book was enjoyable. I thought it was fun and silly. I liked James and Violet and I liked them even better once they fixed their issues and got back together.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Love, Jacaranda by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Jacaranda Abbott has always tried to keep her mouth shut. As a foster kid, she’s learned the hard way that the less she talks about her mother and why she’s in jail, the better. But when a video of Jacaranda singing goes viral, a mysterious benefactor offers her a life-changing opportunity—a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school to study musical theater. Eager to start over somewhere new, Jacaranda leaps at the chance. She pours her heart out in emails to the benefactor she’s never met.
Suddenly she’s swept up in a world of privilege where the competition is fierce and the talent is next level. As Jacaranda—Jackie to her new friends—tries to find her place, a charming boy from this world of wealth catches her eye. She begins to fall for him, but can he accept her for who she really is?
Love, JacarandaReview:
Love, Jacaranda was sent to me by the author as an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I love most of Flinn’s contemporary novels. This one was pretty good, but not a favorite. I’m a sucker for boarding school stories. It’s a topic that will always catch my interest. But I didn’t love the way this story was told. I think it was interesting. This story is told via emails. We follow Jacaranda as she’s given a full ride by an anonymous benefactor to a well-known musical school. This story is told via the emails she sends to this anonymous benefactor. That in itself was sort of weird to me. I probably would have sent a few emails full of gratitude for the opportunity they had allowed me, but Jacaranda’s emails turned into almost a diary-like sort of thing. She never gets a response, but it’s obvious that someone is reading them because her contact person, Vanessa, always calls her after any important questions or concerning comments. So, this felt sort of weird for me because this is a teenage girl treating emails to what we’re supposed to assume is a grown man, like her own personal diary. Despite my issue with this aspect, I did enjoy the story. I liked reading how much Jacaranda was enjoying her new classes. I liked seeing her make new friends and experience new things. She’s a girl that’s struggled most of her life. Her mother is in jail, and in the past hasn’t dated the best people. So, when her life changes the way it does, she feels like she shouldn’t reveal her past. This sort of made me sad, but I liked it when Jacaranda made friends with another scholarship kid who knew who she really was. I liked that there was someone she could be honest with.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love the ending, but I thought things were sufficiently wrapped up. I definitely had my issues with this story, but I still had a good time reading it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Hideaway by Nora Roberts

fullsizeoutput_3144

GoodReads Summary:
Caitlyn Sullivan, a daughter of Hollywood royalty, was already a star at ten, but still loved to play hide-and-seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared.
Despite her glamorous background, Cate was a shrewd, scrappy survivor, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bruised and terrified girl huddled in his ranch house kitchen—but when the teenager and his family heard her story they provided refuge and comfort, reuniting her with her loved ones.
Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years away in Ireland, sheltered and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul. Then, finally, she returned to Los Angeles, hoping to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night—one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance…
HideawayReview:
I will always love Nora Roberts. Hideaway was no different. I really loved that we got to follow most of Cate’s life. We follow Cate starting when she’s a child at her great-grandfather’s celebration of life. She gets kidnapped late into the afternoon. This follows her for the rest of her life. I really liked how this was worked into the story. It’s something that Cate experienced, but she doesn’t let it dictate the rest of her life. I also have to point out that Cate comes from a very wealthy Hollywood family, but she acknowledges the privilege that comes with this, which I appreciated. I also liked the diversity I’ve been seeing in Nora’s novels in the last few years. There’s a biracial relationship, there are LGBTQ+ side characters.
I really liked Cate. She really takes charge of her life and doesn’t let her childhood trauma define her. She goes after what she wants. She takes time to figure out what exactly she wants when she feels like she’s lost her direction. I also totally loved that she becomes a voice actress later on in her life.
Now, Dillon Cooper was amazing. He’s the ultimate gentleman. He’s a family man, raised by women. His dream to take over the family farm never changes. But he respects the women who raised him and goes to college at their suggestion. I liked that we got to see Dillon grow up as well.
I loved the romances that we got to see. As this book takes place over many years, we see Cate in a few different relationships. I really enjoyed them all but I was always sure that Dillon and Cate would be end game.
Overall, this was a wonderful mystery/romance novel. I liked that we knew what was going on (mostly) the whole time. There were a few details we didn’t know, but I liked that we knew most of the story. The only thing I didn’t like was that the ending seemed a little sudden. I felt like there was room for more of a conclusion, but we just didn’t get that. I still really enjoyed this story and I can’t wait for Nora’s new release later this year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

GoodReads Summary:
Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)
Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.
Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.
The Code for Love and HeartbreakReview:
Thank you, NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book. It was a fun and interesting romance novel that was also filled with self-discovery and growth.
In this book, we follow Emma. Emma is starting her senior year of high school. Also, her sister is leaving for college across the country. This is significant because Izzy is Emma’s best (and sort of only friend). So, her senior year is going to be very different than her previous three years. I really liked this aspect of the story because Emma is going to the same school with the same people, a huge part of her life has changed. I mostly liked Emma. She’s awkward and nerdy and almost never knows the right thing to say. She was frustrating and also inspiring. She really grows and I really appreciated that.
I loved the concept of the app that Emma’s coding club creates. I thought it was such an interesting idea to see how you can find love through math. I thought it was interesting to see how Emma struggles with her math not always working, too.
Overall, this book was entertaining and kept me interested. I liked that the characters really grew by the end of the story. I think this one will definitely be well-loved by those that understand the math Emma does.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

GoodReads Summary:
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Beach ReadReview:
This new release has been hyped all over the internet. I was interested immediately from the synopsis. A book about a writer that’s stuck? Count me in.
We follow January, a romance writer who has learned some things about her parents that have shaken her idea of happily ever after. She’s moved into a beach house that she didn’t know her father owned so she can pack it up and sell it. This is a hugely emotional thing for her, but at the same time, she’s supposed to be writing her next book by the end of the summer. The only problem with this is that she hasn’t even started and when she tries, she has no ideas. Things get interesting when she realizes who her neighbor is.
Augustus Everett is a fellow writer, one that January actually went to college with. I really liked him from the start. It was immediately clear that these two had certain assumptions about one another that weren’t really true. So, Gus and January make a deal where Gus will spend the summer writing a romance novel and January will write literary fiction. I loved that this became sort of cathartic for January. She used this new challenge to try to work through all of the things she has going on in her life. I just really enjoyed the writing aspects of the story. I also totally loved the flirtation that was included for some of the writing parts. Also, as a part of their deal, the two adventured together. Friday nights they would go somewhere that Gus had previously planned for book research and January would take Gus on field trips that one might find in a romance novel. I loved these because they were both so different. So, Fridays they’d deal with some really heavy stuff and Saturdays they would go to the carnival or something. It was an interesting contrast; the darkness of what Gus was researching with the fun date-like adventures that January planned.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book just as much as everyone else. It was fun and made me laugh, but it also had some great serious and thoughtful moments. I found myself easily invested in the characters and their relationships. I will definitely be reading Emily Henry’s next adult romance.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

GoodReads Summary:
Calla Fletcher returns to Toronto a different person, struggling to find direction and still very much in love with the rugged bush pilot she left behind. When Jonah arrives on her doorstep with a proposition she can’t dismiss, she takes the leap and rushes back to Alaska to begin their exciting future together.
But Calla soon learns that even the best intentions can lead to broken promises, and that compromise comes with a hefty price—a log cabin in interior rural Alaska that feels as isolating as the western tundra.
With Jonah gone more than he’s home, one neighbor who insists on transforming her into a true Alaskan, and another who seems more likely to shoot her than come to her aid, Calla grapples with forging her own path. In a world with roaming wildlife that has her constantly watching over her shoulder and harsh conditions that stretch far beyond the cold, dark, winter months, just stepping outside her front door can be daunting.
This is not the future Calla had in mind, leaving her to fear that perhaps she is doomed to follow in her mother’s fleeing footsteps after all.
Wild at Heart (Wild, #2)Review:
After reading and loving The Simple Wild, I knew I needed its sequel. I’m so glad that I didn’t waste any time ordering it because it was so good. We follow Calla after she’s made the decision to move back to Alaska to be with Jonah. I loved that this was a slice of life story. We’re getting to see Jonah and Calla move to a new area of Alaska and start their lives together, but Jonah finds new dreams to go after and Calla feels like she has to be supportive of them. There were struggles for both of them, but they worked through them. I really liked getting to see the conflict and see how they resolved them.
I definitely loved Calla and Jonah together. I loved everything about their relationship. We get to see the fun times and the harder things they’re figuring out how to deal with. But the best part of this story was Calla and her growth. She figures out how to get her license. She gets to know the people in town. She meets her neighbors. She becomes a part of the community. I loved seeing Calla figuring out how to make a life for herself outside of her relationship with Jonah in her new home. She really struggled, but that just made the story that much better.
Overall, I am already very excited to see what’s going to happen in the third book. I loved the setting. I loved the struggles and conflicts. There were lots of parts with the people in the new town and getting to know these characters was so enjoyable. Calla’s grouchy neighbor was absolutely my favorite. I also really liked the history of Calla and Jonah’s new property that was included in the story. I loved everything about this story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.