All in all, I would say my reading this week was quite successful. I didn’t get to every book on my TBR and without doubling up didn’t quite clear the BINGO board, but I found a few books that I absolutely adored and finished up my February ARC reading! So let’s get into it. I’m reviewing these in the order I completed them this week rather than following the BINGO board, just as a heads up.
Repeat by Kylie Scott
I read this for recommended to you, which is like, kind of cheating because it was recommended by Fated Mates (in the Amnesia episode as well as it was one of Sarah’s Top Five of 2019). But as a listener of the pod, I decided it counts. Anyway, this book deals with Amnesia, which was fascinating. So basically, Clementine was the victim of a brutal attack and has entirely lost her memory so she sets out to figure out who she was, which involves tracking down her ex-boyfriend, Ed. She obviously doesn’t remember why they broke up, but it’s clear that Ed is still pretty upset about it. However, Ed is a good egg and checks up on Clementine. I really appreciated that this moved fairly slow, but I wouldn’t say it’s a new favorite. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. I rated it 3.5 stars and those reviews are always hard because I don’t know what to tell you! It was fine and fun and I don’t regret my time on it, but I wouldn’t re-read it either.
Forbidden Promises by Synithia Williams
Shout out to HQN and Netgalley for the ARC of this book that began with a note to the reader from Synthia talking about how much she loved soap operas as a kid and that this book was influenced by that love. Well, guess what, I also grew up watching General Hospital with my mom so this book was pretty much everything! The slightly over the top plot with a father (Grant) who is way overly involved in his children’s lives, a romantic relationship between India and Travis who used to be in-laws, and with a backdrop of India’s brother and Travis’ best friend running for national office. Oh, and the drama with Travis’ family because he’s defending the man who killed his cousin. The only things that kept me from giving this book a full five stars were as follows (1) even though he’s running for national office (he says Senate), everything about the election is local and there’s talk about his district? but running for the Senate would be the whole State, no? Idk, didn’t love that piece; (2) Travis’ job is, weirdly represented in this book, which is fine because I don’t need to read about my job in a book but, still weird that a man prepping for a murder trial (that ends in a week???) has all this time to romance India; and (3) there were a few too many comments about earning food in this book for me. That said, I don’t want to focus on the negatives because I really loved this book. I thought it was really fun and I’m desperate for the next book in the series because Byron’s story promises to be truly, truly top notch excellent. I can’t wait. Anyway, you can read Forbidden Promises on February 25th and the sequel, Scandalous Secrets, on August 25th! Oh, and Forbidden Promises got a PW star.
Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Yeah… This book. I would not recommend it to anyone really. I ultimately gave it three stars, but I think that was generous. The problem with this book is that it’s written in the same engaging and fun tone as their books together always are, which means it’s a really fun read. But this one is full of problems. Those problems began with an off color joke that mocks the real tragedy Syria and Syrian refugees have faced in the past many years. It continues with just a whole bunch of weird classist stuff, which could be excused because it’s challenged, and also I just felt really uncomfortable with the way K.H.’s sexuality was explored. So, essentially I just wish I could have gotten the joy of Sarina & Elle’s writing without the problematic elements, but, alas.
Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee
This book could have fulfilled the workplace romance, new to me author, and fake marriage/dating challenges, but I used it for new to me author. This is Jayci Lee’s debut, although she has at least two more books coming out this year, including the second in this series. I really enjoyed her writing, but I felt like this book was a little choppy in that there were scenes that were missing. I’m hoping her non-category release A Sweet Mess will not suffer from the same issue because otherwise I really enjoyed this book. Temporary Wife Temptation is about Garrett Song, a Korean American man who needs to get married to block his grandmother’s arrangements for him, and Natalie Sobol, a Korean American woman who is also Garrett’s interim VP of Human Resources and the would be adoptive mother of her orphaned niece. Natalie needs a husband and so when Garrett suggests they get married, Natalie barely flinches. I really liked the premise and characters, but felt that the pacing was off not because beats were missing, but because there were whole chunks of time missing. It was an odd experience. That said, I’m excited for the next book! (I read this as an ARC thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin. You can read it on February 4th!)
Blame It on the Billionaire by Naima Simone
Y’all should already know Naima Simone can bring the heat and she certainly delivered in this category romance! A similar plot to Temporary Wife Temptation, Grayson Chandler needs his mother to stop meddling in his life and trying to set him up with his ex-girlfriend/fiancé. But his brother died not too long ago and so he’s trying to be subtle about it. Nadia Jordan was down for that one night stand they had, but she’s not here for this whole fake engagement thing, until her little brother gets into Yale and Grayson’s willing to pay for what he wants. I really loved the way this book tackled class and classism and racism. Grayson is a rich white dude from a rich white family and Nadia is mixed race, poor, and doesn’t know who her father is. I also loved how Naima Simone tackled the pacing in this book. To me, she got it exactly right. Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin for the advanced copy! You can read it on February 1, 2020.
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
I’ve mentioned before that Jasmine Guillory has courted controversy for how she has accepted the role the press keeps painting her (aka the Queen of Romance and Black romance specifically), which is part of what had me so hesitant to pick this one up. But setting that to the side, I really liked this one. It follows Theo and Maddie, who are both friends of Alexa’s, the heroine in The Wedding Date, and who find themselves falling into bed with one another even though they do not like one another. I thought the chemistry between Maddie and Theo was well done and overall, I just really enjoyed this one.
The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe
This book is my definitely making it to my first quarterly favorites list because I fell so in love with Mamie and Frank. Essentially this book is about Frank Tripp ostensibly trying to protect his client’s interest (his client being Mamie’s dad) and prevent Mamie from continuing to go to unsuitable places, most recently a casino. The problem is that Mamie is not interested in being stopped from her work or fun and also, maybe she doesn’t want to marry the man her father wants her to? There’s a really key plot thread in this story related to a woman who killed her husband in defense of her children that Mamie convinces Frank to defend, which plays on some of Frank’s background and reveals a lot of character. I think this book was really lovely and I am desperate to continue with the series as soon as possible.
And there you have it! Those are the books I read for this readathon, the name of which is bothering me even more than usual today, but ah well.