Until I sat down to figure out what books I’d read this month, I would have told you I was having a slumpy month and haven’t really read that much. If I had told you that, I would have been lying. I apparently read fifteen books in the first fifteen days of the month, so I’m going to try to keep this short. Here we go.
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
If I wasn’t positive already that Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors of all time, this book put that doubt to rest. My third Taylor Jenkins Reid of the year and my third five star Taylor Jenkins Reid of the year. Also, I think she’s three for three this year on making me cry. This particular book is about a married couple who have really lost the love they used to have for one another and they decide to take a break. One year, no contact. It’s an emotional journey following our heroine, Lauren, as she reconnects with her family and who she is. I absolutely adored this one and honestly, I just love Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing so much. (P.S. Daisy Jones & The Six won the Book of the Month Book of the Year and I am so proud!)
The Mistake by Elle Kennedy
The second book in the Off-Campus series, this one follows John Logan and Grace and even though I’m super over the very experienced hero and the virginal heroine thing, I still really enjoyed my time with this book. Elle Kennedy knows how to write a cocky sports hero with a lot of hidden depth well. And I loved how Grace came into her own throughout this book and made Logan work for it. Plus, if you like this one, there’s a short in the All Wrapped Up for the Holidays anthology called The Pact, which is essentially an extended epilogue and it’s utterly delightful. I enjoyed it a whole lot.
Blitzed by Alexa Martin
Alexa Martin’s humor is always utterly delightful for me and I thought this book might surpass Fumbled as my new favorite of hers because of how much I loved Brynn, but then the last 15% or so of the book happened and it threw me for a loop. This book is about Brynn, the owner of a bar called HERS, which, if it were a real place, I might never leave. The camaraderie of the women who hang out and work in the bar is everything I’ve ever wanted and I absolutely love that aspect of the entire series. It’s also about star defensive something or other, Maxwell Lewis, who has an uncharacteristic violent outburst at the bar one night, which he pays for swiftly and without actually finding out how much damage he caused. He and Brynn had been making small and subtle steps toward one another for that event, but that outburst caused Brynn to take a big step back. I loved Maxwell for how he handled things, but I do think it’s weird that we don’t really get an explanation for what happened for such a long time. Regardless, if you’re a fan of the series, I do think this was a really great installment. Mostly because I love Brynn the most.
Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
As a person who hates deception plots, to say that I struggled with the plot of this book is putting it mildly. In fact, there were a lot of things that I didn’t quite love about this book, but at the same time, I could see what Christopher was doing and I really liked what I could see. I liked prickly Hannah and I felt like she was relatable, although I, as a white person, have no idea what it’s like to be mixed race and have people comment on it. (Seriously, stop asking people what are you. That’s weird. And rude. Also, they’re probably a human.) And I liked Jack, even though I also kind of hated him for the whole deception thing. But, what sold me on continuing with the series is that Andie’s writing Hot Under the Collar about the priest who is Jack’s friend!!! Y’all, I screamed. Listen, I know it’s terrible and probably blasphemous, but like… Sierra Simone broke me, idk. Anyway, this book is a gender bent How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and YMMV on how well that works for you. (For me, the plot was definitely the weakest link.)
The interesting thing about listening to this full cast audio was that my brain just like, couldn’t quite keep up. I think I’ll enjoy this more on re-read, which isn’t to say I didn’t like it the first time around, just that I found it a little confusing. Alyssa Cole’s world-building skills are truly unparalleled and I’m glad it sounds like she’s going to get to play some more in this world that she’s created because it’s intricate and there were a lot of characters. Essentially, Trinity Jordan is recovering from an accident living her life at home with an Alexa type android monitoring her vitals and just keeping her life in check. She meets Li Wei, her neighbor’s nephew, and is immediately attracted to him despite his oddity. Something about him seems familiar almost. But, of course, everything is not as it seems. If you have Audible, I would highly recommend picking up this one and it’s free in Audible Escape!
Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey
You can expect to see way more of my thoughts in the first mash up review for mine and Dani’s new reading project (When Old Meets New), but the short version is that I enjoyed this pirate-y romp, but it’s hella weird to read about a romance hero who owns slaves. I mean, in theory, the vast majority of the dukes and other heroes we’ve been reading about, have that in their past or present and we just don’t see it. But in this case, James Malory is literally sailing to Jamaica to sell his plantation. If you’re unfamiliar with the book, it follows Georgiana Anderson, shipping heiress, who is trying to get back to America as fast as possible after finding out her fiancé left her voluntarily and is now married with two children. So she disguises herself as a boy and takes a position as Cabin Boy aboard James Malory’s ship. She and James had a brief encounter while she was in London and he recognizes her immediately, but allows her to think he doesn’t. This creates some interesting scenarios, which made the book both fun and sometimes discomfiting.
Down Too Deep by J. Daniels
This is 100% a case of where the hype got to me because before the bookstagrammers started talking about this series, I had never heard of it. Well, bless them, because this book was thoroughly delightful. As a person who isn’t normally huge on kids being in romance, this single parents romance was absolutely everything and I adored every bit of the kids being involved. Nathan Bell’s wife died by suicide nearly two years ago after dealing with post-partum depression and his dad’s finally serving him with a wake up call: You have to take care of your daughter because your mom and I are done being parents. Nathan is floundering when Jenna Savage, single mother of twins Oliver and Olivia, waltzes into his life and offers to watch Marley. Watching these five people become a family was absolutely delightful and utterly heart warming. I couldn’t believe how invested I was in this book. I read it in one sitting on a week night! So shoutout to Forever’s marketing team because the instagram tour de force really worked on me and I’m so glad I gave into the pressure.
For His Eyes Only by Tamsen Parker
And if Instagram got me to pick up Down Too Deep, what besides Twitter could have possibly convinced me to pick up this erotic holiday romance? Social media is definitely good for something. For His Eyes Only follows co-workers, Lucy and Evans, who accidentally witness a scene between their boss and her husband, which leaves them both in such a state that they actually act on their feelings for one another. There’s a no fraternization policy though so they have to keep this fling under wraps. There’s a lot of depth to each character, in addition to the hot sex, so it really does work as a romance. If you’re in the mood for a very sex holiday romance, this is a great pick! CW for some negative self-talk based on conservative Christian ideology related to sex and policing women’s bodies.
The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord
The sequel to The Start of Me and You, The Map from Here to There once again captures anxiety perfectly and encapsulates what senior year of high school is all about: all consuming dread for the future and throwing yourself with reckless abandon into having as much fun as possible, which obviously causes lots of conflict along the way. I would highly recommend it for any high school students and honestly, anyone in a transitory part of their lives. My full review will be out in a few days so look forward to more thoughts from me in that!
Rock Hard by Nalini Singh
One of my all time favorite romances, Rock Hard is about Charlotte Baird who throws an industrial size stapler at a man she thinks is an intruder, but who is actually her new (very hot) boss. Gabriel Bishop, said hot boss, is not really attracted to mousy women, but there’s something about Charlotte that is doing something for him and the T-Rex always gets what he wants. This book is really about Charlotte’s personal journey of healing and finding her way again and her romance with Gabriel, who is actually a gem of a man, although a pushy one. I love this book so very much and you’ll again see more of mine and Dani’s thoughts on it in a much longer post soon!
Christmas with the Wrights by Christina C. Jones
My first read after re-upping my Kindle Unlimited subscription and I definitely don’t regret it. This cannot be read as a standalone, but it’s a great slice of life (around the holidays) a few years after Bending the Rules featuring all of our favorite couples. I really enjoyed my time reading it, but honestly, like almost always, I wanted more.
CW: discussion of past miscarriage
Wrapped Up in You by Jill Shalvis
I… don’t really know what to say about this book. I didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it. It felt like a more dramatic and probably better Hallmark movie with more kissing (and sex), but it didn’t work for me on all the levels, but I really couldn’t pinpoint why. It’s about Kel O’Donnell, a man visiting his family and serving as his cousin’s head of security while on administrative leave from his job as the sheriff of a small Iowa town. Kel was betrayed by his partner in the force and there’s a weird theme of it’s not his exes, it’s him throughout the book that just felt weird. It’s like the polar opposite of the nasty ex thing and for some reason this didn’t work for me either. Anyway, our other main character is Ivy Snow, who is a drifter who has finally found a place to call home, but she’s really bad about telling the truth about her life. The two of them keep getting thrown together and desperately try to resist their attraction to one another but fail. There’s also a very minor romantic suspense subplot thrown in. I think maybe the book was just trying to do too much, but it’s not a bad book really. Idk.
Dagger’s Edge by Lora Leigh
I actually enjoyed this one way more than the first in the series because it actually made sense the whole time, which was a welcome change. But, when I say it made sense, that actually might be a stretch, because I’m still confused about the age difference between the couple. It sounds like the hero, Ivan Resnova, was only 13 when his daughter was born and she’s the same age as the heroine of this book? Maybe? Idk. But there are a couple of comments that are just weird about the time that Ivan was intrigued by 16 year old Sin Delaney. So, while I enjoyed this one a whole lot more than the first one, it still doesn’t quite work for me and I’m anxious to finally get to my arc of the third book in the series so I can be done.
The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
I cannot even express to you how much I adored this quick novella, which was an Audible Original offering for December. Chelsea from ChelseaDolling Reads said it gave her The Hating Game vibes and I can totally see it. Riley Kennedy and Kennedy Riley work for the same company, but in different divisions and sometimes get each other’s emails. Riley prides herself in always being professional and just immediately forwarding Kennedy’s wrongly delivered emails to him, while Kennedy likes to provide commentary about her own wayward emails. When one of those emails is an answer to an advice column request for help, Riley’s temper is through the roof. So it’s obviously time for them to meet in person at the office holiday party. It’s fun and delightful and I cannot recommend enough.
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Hello my new obsession. I am, for real, so invested in Mercy Thompson. I haven’t fallen this hard this fast for a series since… Hidden Legacy? Psy-Changeling? I can’t remember which of those I read last, but either way, I’m in love with this series. I want to devour all the books and I’m very resentful that Scrib’d cut me off. I feel like an addict, but thankfully I made it through the first three, which gave me the romantic arc. If you haven’t tried this urban fantasy series, it follows a walker, aka Mercy Thompson, which means she can shift at any time from person to coyote. Mercy was raised by werewolves and now she has to return home to find help for the alpha next door. Honestly, I can’t describe this series at all, just know that I’m really in love with it.
I’ve read so many good books this month. What are some of your favorites you’ve read?