I am overflowing with April ARCs somehow and I thought that it would be better to split these into two groups rather than just the one because I write too much for one post, I think. So, what I’ll be reviewing for you today are the first three ARCs I read for April (not counting Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai, which is out today!!! Here’s my review and here’s where I gushed about it in my favorite books of the year post because I cheated and read it in December). That means I’m bringing you reviews of Seduced by a Steele by Brenda Jackson, which came out on April 7th, Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras, which comes out April 28th, and Flying Gold by Vanessa North, which comes out on April 27th.
Seduced by a Steele by Brenda Jackson
You’ve pretty much already seen the full extent of my thoughts on this book if you read my April Wrap Up, Part One, but I’ll do my best to find better words to explain here who I think this book will work for, since I was not a person it did work for. This book is about a billionaire, Mercury, whose fancy but old sports car has been stolen. Maybe I should say expensive but old? Anyway, he finds himself driving behind it so he follows the car until it parks and comes face to face with Sloan. For her part, Sloan has been suddenly cut off by her own rich family and bought a car in cash with no idea that it was stolen. Mercury finds himself roped into helping her and then finds himself unable to let her go.
I think if you are a person who can get swept away and enjoy books where a rich man swoops in to take care of a woman, you might enjoy this book. And I don’t say it like that to be judgmental because I certainly am that kind of woman sometimes. But with everything that’s going on in the world? I was like, billionaire BYE. And I was really frustrated that Sloan was both capable but incredibly naive and oblivious at the same time. I am not always the most financially wise person, but she really thought she could just get a car with no credit history?? Like… Girl. Anyway, it’s meant to be a fun escapist read and I hope it can be that for you. It just did not work for me.
Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
Island Affair features Sara Vance, a social media influencer, who is in Key West for a family vacation meant to give her a chance to prove to her family that they (a) don’t need to worry about her and (b) should be proud of her. It’s also meant to be extremely relaxing because they’re celebrating her mother’s recovery from cancer. So when her boyfriend flakes on her at the last minute, she’s anxious but really happy to accept a stand in boyfriend in the form of Luis Navarro. For his part, Luis has an unexpected week off and he’s got a thing for saving people, not only in his profession as a firefighter, but also just in every day life. Both characters have some things in their past that have left some emotional scars for them to address as we move through the novel.
My favorite part of this was definitely the familial aspect, both with the Navarros and the Vances. I think Priscilla Oliveras is very good at crafting close families and showing families doing work trying to improve their relationship. I’m also looking forward to getting Luis’ sister’s story and I am hoping that’s next in the series, though I know other people are more excited about Emanuel. I also liked seeing parts of Key West and pretending I too could go on a nice bike ride. (I don’t even like riding a bike and haven’t done that in years, but desperate times, you know?)
The things I didn’t love so much were a few comments Sara made that were related to her eating disorder, from which she’s in recovery, and the end. Specifically, I spent the book feeling like Sara and Luis fit together well, though I can’t say I specifically understood why, and the reason they come apart is reasonable but also miscommunication related. And then the second they come back together the book is over. I don’t want to spoil you for anything, but just know that I didn’t find the ending satisfying and therefore it was difficult for me to really love this book. That said, I’m looking forward to continuing in the series and I hope if you pick this up, you’ll enjoy it more than I did!
Flying Gold by Vanessa North
Arguably, the best praise I can give this book right now is that I read this in like two hours, which is unheard of given my attention span and ability to focus on books right now. Flying Gold is a second chance romance between Tiffani and Matt, who dated and fell in love in high school and had plans until Matt ruined things between them. Tiffani is still grieving her father’s death when Matt’s car shows up in her life. She’s also still angry with him for messing them up so carelessly a decade ago. Matt is now a… cinematographer person? Idk. He’s won an Oscar. Anyway, it’s very obvious from the beginning that he (a) regrets how things went with Tiffani and (b) wants to fix things.
There was a lot about this book that worked for me, but mostly it’s the characters that make this book shine. Tiffani is mad. She’s just got this rough edge that I just really adored. But then she has this moment where she thinks about how she’s been treating Matt and realizes she doesn’t want to let this bitterness really be a part of who she is anymore. It’s just… So well done. And for his part, Matt is unbelievably patient and contrite in a way that I think some people may find too akin to a doormat, but I thought was handled really beautifully. He just wants to be who Tiffani wants. There’s a lot about trust in this book and I really loved the way it’s handled.
There are a couple of things that kept this book from being five stars for me though. One is that I felt that there was a moment in the book that requires a content warning that just didn’t feel necessary to me at all. The content warning is that a man in a position of power takes advantage of his position to “just make out” with a 16 year old girl. It’s handled well in terms of if this was real life, that’s how I would want it to go. But I didn’t feel like it needed to be in the book. It only serves to make Matt look good? And I just didn’t think we really needed that. The other thing I didn’t love was the conflict. It was so predictable and I just feel like we can do better than what it was. But, all things considered, I enjoyed this book a lot and I so appreciate that it thoroughly held my attention. And I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next installment in this series in October!
Have you already read any of these? Do you want to? Let me know!