By Any Other Name: Lauren Kate

She’s finally getting the promotion she’s been working for. But her success hinges on her ability to guard one of the biggest secrets in the publishing world.

Their meet cute is not cute. As far as she’s concerned, he’s arrogant and condescending and aloof. And whether or not she finds him attractive is immaterial. She’s already engaged. And he’s a liar.

But he writes books that are things of beauty. Books that speak to her heart and have shaped her life. But now the one writer who will make or sink her career has writer’s block. Even though she is hurt enough, and angry enough, to cast him into purgatory, she knows she has to thrust her feelings of betrayal aside and get him to deliver a manuscript.

Lanie and Noah have messy lives and loose ends. They have the weight of a monumental deception between them. But they also have tulips. And walks in the rain. And train rides with odiferous lunches.

I absolutely adored this sweet, sassy rom-com! It features a complex hero who is in touch with his feelings, and able to articulate them. It features a heroine who finally empowers herself to seek out and fight for the life and the sense of personhood that she wants and deserves. It features two unforgettable characters navigating the challenges and losses that have shaped them.

Plot: 5 Stars
Characters: 5 Stars
Steam: 1 Star

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Must Love Cowboys

These sexy cowboys will knock your socks off!

4.5 ⭐️

I loved these two modern cowboy romances!

Must Love Cowboys features a librarian heroine- one of my fave tropes😍😍😍- and a dyslexic hero who seeks her out for reading lessons.

Beau has muddled through his entire life. He avoids things like text messages and contracts and anything that will reveal his learning disability. When his brother decides to move away, Beau is forced to address the issue he has buried for so long.

Alice agrees to tutor Beau if he’ll tutor her in return. She needs to learn to flirt so she can find her HEA. All of her friends are settling down with their sweethearts and starting families and she feels like her life is on eternal hold.

Beau and Alice’s mutual lessons quickly spiral out of control and their fake dating arrangement becomes all too real.

Plot: 4⭐️
Characters: 4⭐️
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Big Bad Cowboy is a rivals to lovers, fake dating live story that will make your toes curl!

Maggie is always just one of the guys. But she has always had a crush on JD- the town’s golden boy and one of her best friends. Tired of trying to get his attention she decides to change tactics. She dresses up for the Halloween party like Red Riding Hood on the prowl and ensnares a hungry wolf. When the heat between them on the dance floor leads to a HAH rendezvous in a tool shed, she is both embarrassed and mystified. They keep their masks on the entire time.

Travis can’t stop thinking about Little Red Riding Hood. He can’t afford distractions- he’s trying to pay the back taxes on the family ranch, take care of his newly orphaned nephew and clean up the mess left behind by his incarcerated brother.

Maggie and Travis are thrown together when they land the same landscaping job. Maggie is drawn to him even though they are business rivals. He is drawn to her even though his time in town has an expiration date. But they are both in another relationship that has off the charts sexting.

The snafus get sorted once secret identities are revealed.

Features:
A HAH mind- blowing sex in a tool shed meet cute.

Plot: 4⭐️
Characters: 4.5⭐️
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥.5

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Mistletoe Motive

The perfect Grinch vs. Buddy the Elf holiday romance with demi-sexual, spectrum and T1D representation!

THIS WAS UTTER PERFECTION.

Jonathan and Gabby’s story is the You’ve Got Mail/ Hating Game mash-up holiday romance I didn’t even know I needed. I suspected their secret identities early on and was so happy my suspicions proved to be true.

Gabby loves Christmas. And she’s convinced her surly co-worker is the Grinch incarnate. She doesn’t trust him, or his motives. She’s convinced his chief objectives in life are to antagonize and sabotage her.

But attitudes can be deceiving – and they can hide a multitude of insecurities, deeply personal struggles, and heartfelt wishes. When a kiss in the snow upsets everything they thought they knew, and looses them from their moorings, it’s impossible to take a step backward.

They are in the middle before they even know they’ve begun. Watching them tumble into complete, incandescent happiness was wonderful.

Plot: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Characters: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

The Dating Dare

Tara and Seth have an undeniable chemistry. They bond over an epic night filled with Truth or Dare, probing questions and sexually charged banter. But he’s leaving for a job abroad in a month, and she doesn’t do “the relationship thing.” 

They agree to a series of dates, with the caveat that they will not fall in love with one another. But the kisses are incinerating, the sex is the best Tara has ever had, and they have an easy camaraderie. 

What they don’t have is the courage to leave behind their emotional baggage and give their relationship a chance. And their time together has an expiration date.

I loved this sweet and steamy story. It’s about finding love when you least expect it, and finding the courage to welcome it and fight for it despite the demons of your past.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Talk Bookish to Me

Everyone grows up eventually…even college boyfriends.

Talk Bookish to Me was a perfect escape about second chances.

Kara and Ryan were inseparable in college- that couple nauseatingly wrapped up in each other and joined at the hip. The tied with a bow, rose colored glasses couple everyone else was envious of. But they were young, and life got in the way. They couldn’t keep doubt and mistrust from intruding on their relationship – and they are both still nursing the wounds from their mutual meltdown.

Kara still hates Ryan with the fire of a thousand suns. He broke her trust and shattered her heart. And now he’s standing on front of her – miraculously the groomsman in her best friend’s wedding. She wants to thrash him with the roundkick of all roundkicks. But she wants to lean into the crook of his neck and feel his arms around her too. And her competing desires make her grumpy and mean.

When a disaster named Duke strikes, Ryan and Kara become victims of forced proximity. Kara offers up her space because she is trying to help her best friend and keep the momentum and inspiration going so she can meet the deadline for her new romance book. The coincidence of Ryan’s sudden appearance and the banishment of her writer’s block is not something she wants to examine too closely.

The charge between them is inexorable and they can’t ignore it. If they choose each other again, there’s a very definite possibility that their secrets will drive them apart again. Is the heartache and surrender worth it?

I loved this sweet romantic comedy. A huge thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Meet Me in Paradise

This book was so wonderful.

It’s about the many different kinds of bravery. It takes courage to carry on, courage to step outside your comfort zone, courage to let go.

It’s about the sacrifices we think we are making for those we love, but are actually walls we are erecting for self-preservation. It’s about tearing down those walls brick by brick.

It’s about self-deception and erroneous assumptions.

Marin agrees to leave her cocoon of ten years for a sisters’ getaway. It turns into another type of adventure altogether when she meets Lucas. As he shows her around the island, she doesn’t recognize her flirty, forthright alterego. She takes risks, embraces danger, and loses her moorings.

The reason behind Marin’s solitary escape will turn her world upside down and result in an epiphany that changes her life.

Recommended if you settle in with this spectacular debut:

-A box of tissues within easy reach.
-No early morning appointments because you won’t be able to put it down once you pick it up.

Locked In Love

He ruined her life and she despises him.

This wonderful love story unfolds in the middle of a quarantine.

He’s the man Kara used to share a cubicle with– or at least a workspace. But their budding romance cost her a job she loved and now she’s unemployed. It’s all his fault, and she lays the blame completely on his shoulders. He’s the reason she’s looking for a hook-up with an overgrown slob of a fratboy. He’s the reason she feels unhinged and untethered.

To make matters worse, the frat boy hookup that didn’t happen means she’s stuck in HIS apartment building for the foreseeable future.

Rory was saddened that the work fiasco wrecked his maybe with Kara. Though she seems to hate his guts, he had reasons for staying at the company that he felt too vulnerable to share. Those reasons will become evident if Kara takes him up on the offer to stay in his apartment until the quarantine ends.

Why this book was the perfect mini- escape from the quarantine that has become a stifling cocoon:

  1. The banter and sparks between Kara and Rory sizzle off the page.
  2. She has to wear his clothes— and they smell like him. You know we’ve all stolen that t-shirt just so we could get a surreptitious sniff whenever we needed it.
  3. There is a sweet, sassy side character who will steal your heart.
  4. Rory may have an 8 pack and seem like a tiger, but he’s actually a kitten.
  5. Forced proximity. And all of the uncomfortable, arousing, impossible to ignore feelings it forces out in the open.