July ARCs: Hairpin Curves, Paradise Cove, & Sweetest in the Gale

I real quick want to plug two other reviews in case you missed them for releases that also come out today: Sunday’s post included Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha, which I would highly recommend, and then late last month/early this month (time is fake), I posted my review of The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite. You can officially get that one as well! And now let’s talk about the other books releasing today/Thursday! Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters is my first from this author and I was so excited to receive an advanced copy from Carina Adores via Netgalley! It’s a sapphic romance about a road trip with an ex. Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday is the follow up to Mermaid Inn, which I read earlier this month and really enjoyed. I was so excited to receive an advanced copy of it from Forever via Netgalley as well! And finally, Olivia Dade is the greatest and gave me an advanced copy of Sweetest in the Gale and not only did I fall in love with the titular short story, I re-read “Cover Me” and cried again. It’s so good. The ultimate friends to lovers. (In a different way than Scoring Off the Field.) So let’s talk about these books!

Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

Hairpin Curves has the summer road trips vibes I’m desperate for, despite taking place in February. Road trips are usually times for intense conversations and adventures and that’s exactly what’s happening in this book with two women who have been estranged for years. Megan is uptight and maybe a little judgmental. Suddenly flush with cash after receiving a generous severance package, motivated by Julia’s plea to attend her wedding, and Scarlett (her ex-best friend) convincing her to take a road trip to Quebec for the wedding, Megan’s life is in an upheaval. For her part, Scarlett is also a little lost, not having managed to achieve her dreams and pretty convinced she can’t do so.

The road trip is also the perfect opportunity for them to rebuild their friendship. Maybe. But Megan’s still a little mad and the two of them are pretty defensive for quite a ways into the book. The opening lines of “mad woman” kept coming to mind reading this book for a while: What did you think I’d say to that? Does a scorpion sting when fighting back? They strike to kill, and you know I will

Honestly, that’s the main thing that caused me to dock the book a star, but I think that’s really just a personal thing. It’s fairly low angst overall, but the mutual pining without necessarily recognizing their own feelings was a whole mood throughout this book and I liked how Winters showed that. This was my first book from Winters, but is definitely not going to be my last. Other things I really liked were how the only one bed trope was handled, the way sex toys were naturally and positively integrated into the storyline, and getting to see Nashville on the road trip. Nashville is one of my absolute favorite cities and I’m always happy for a glimpse of it. Overall, I really liked this one!

Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday

I really love Holiday’s writing and this book is no exception. In fact, aside from one thing that bothered me immensely, this book is excellent! So let’s talk about the thing I hated first to just get it out of the way. Jake fully romanticizes his first sexual relationship with “Mrs. Robinson” who was much older than his 17 when they had a sexual affair. Personally and, you know, legally, this is not an okay thing to do!! I find this portrayal incredibly harmful and I really wish it hadn’t been tossed in for literally no reason. So, now let’s talk about all of the things I loved about this book!

Anyway, Paradise Cove is about Nora, a doctor, who moves to Moonflower Bay after her life basically implodes. After a messy end to her long term relationship, Nora is swearing off men and spending the next two years saving money to buy a house with her sister in Toronto. Jake, the silent and broody man we met in Mermaid Inn, can’t seem to resist Nora’s frank, no-nonsense manner and finds himself drawn into her orbit despite himself. Jake is dealing with the loss of his son during the first year of Jude’s life. It’s been a few years, but the grief is still all consuming. Nora draws this out of him, not by being nosy, but by being Nora.

There’s a lot to love as these two become friends and eventually turn into more. I love the town and the side characters because they’re a whole lot of fun. This book has some serious undercurrents, which you may have picked up on already, namely, grief and cancer.

Also, there are actually two other things I don’t love. Let’s first talk about what feels like my standard complaint: I really need characters not to get back together past 95% after the bleak moment. Also, in this case the bleak moment was bleak. Secondly, the trope that is used is, um, not my favorite, although I did think it was handled well.

I’m so looking forward to the third book in the series because Maya and Law are the most intriguing! Oh, and you may want to order a pizza before sitting down to devour this book.

Sweetest in the Gale by Olivia Dade

This is a collection of three stories set in Marysburg, two of which were previously available in other collections (“Unraveled” was available in He’s Come Undone along with Emma Barry, Adriana Herrera, Ruby Lang, and Cat Sebastian and “Cover Me” was available in Rogue Acts, which I don’t think is available anymore), but the titular story is brand new (in addition to the epilogue for “Unraveled”). So I’m going to take this one story at a time. First, “Sweetest in the Gale” is about Candy Albright whose bright personality seems muted in the lead up to the school year, which has Griff Conover very concerned. When she falls and breaks her arm, he takes her to the hospital and also they have all these really lovely conversations about grief and poetry and it’s just… Lovely. I really adored my time reading this one.

“Unraveled” as I mentioned is the short story from the He’s Come Undone anthology so I hadn’t read it terribly long ago, but it was still so nice to revisit murder dioramas and buttoned up Simon and eccentric Poppy. I absolutely adored the epilogue because Simon is a soft king and I love it. He fell so hard and so fast. For fuller thoughts, feel free to check out my He’s Come Undone review!

“Cover Me” was previously published in the Rogue Acts anthology and it absolutely blew me away. I read the first two stories in this collection in one sitting and then closed the book and was like, “I’ll come back to this when I’m less emo.” So probably reading it while still all up in my feels about folklore wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve ever made, but y’all, this novella is everything. Literally, it’s an indictment of the U.S. healthcare system, the healthcare system’s insistence on treating fat people like they don’t matter, and one of the greatest friends to lovers and marriage of convenience stories in the world. Would you marry your best friend so they could have health insurance? I absolutely would. Let’s not talk about how we shouldn’t have to do that for a second and focus on the fact that this is a BIG gesture. But for James? There’s no question, no doubt in his mind. And of course they love each other. And they trust each other. And then they have FEELINGS and it’s all glorious. Content warning for breast cancer, but rest assured in the HEA. Anyway, after all of that, my conclusion is, I need the physical copy so I can have the illustrations in color between the stories. And you definitely need to try out Olivia Dade if you haven’t!

Now, gentle reminder that even though voter suppression exists, we still have to vote if we can and we have to care about the races down ballot as well. So, with less than 100 days until Election Day start thinking about how you’re going to vote. Literally HOW because apparently the USPS has said if you’re doing mail in ballots, they should be in the mail by October 26th. And if you’re not doing mail in, try and figure out if your polling stations are going to be normal, how they’re going to handle social distancing, and all that fun stuff.

And for actual close off, have you read any of these books yet? If so, what did you think? If not, are you planning to? Which ones? Let me know!


5 responses to “July ARCs: Hairpin Curves, Paradise Cove, & Sweetest in the Gale”

  1. I was supposed to go to Nashville in March for a conference but then COVID hit. I definitely still want to see Nashville. I’ve heard the food is excellent. Anyways, I’ve had my eyes on Hairpin Curves. I love road trip books but haven’t read much in romance novels. YA had that phase full of road trip books and they were all so great! And hmm mutual pining and the only one-bed trope. Sounds great!

    I felt exactly the same way about Paradise Cove. I was really enjoying the romance until that trope. It’s just not something I particularly enjoy in books especially as a way to force a couple back together. Jake could be such a dodo-head!

    I adored Sweetest in the Gale. Olivia Dade is the only author who can write her own anthology and have all the stories be excellent. My favorite was also Cover Me. Truly, they were all such wonderful couples.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve definitely had good food both times I’ve been! It was fun! I saw the SBTB reviewer was really annoyed by Scarlett so just keep that in mind.

      Right?? Like it left me really unsure how to feel about the book overall. Especially with the way it was resolved.

      SO GOOD. Everything she writes is magnificent.


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