I cannot believe I’ve finished my #FallIntoRomBingo board! I completely covered the board and I’m so excited about it. Before I dive into discussing the books I read, I want to remind you that if you’ve not entered your Bingo books into the form to win prizes or just to tell us what you read so we can see some fun and nerdy statistics, please do! The form will close on December 1st, so make sure you take care of your entries in a timely manner. Secondly, if you have participated, thank you so much! This has been so fun on a selfish level because it’s made reading really fun and also I’ve loved seeing what everyone else is reading on twitter and in Discord and on Instagram. So thank you so much for making this round of Bingo a success! Now, let’s talk about what I read, shall we? (Quick note that because there are so many books and I’m tired, these links are just going to be to Goodreads. Thank you for understanding!)
Makes You Hungry: Sugar, Butter, Flour, Love by Nicole Falls
This quick novella was my first book from Nicole Falls and is not likely to be my last. Isobel and Travis went to high school together and they did not get along. When they’re paired together for a baking competition Isobel desperately needs to win, she almost loses it. But slowly their hatred of one another fades and things turn a little less fraught between them. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The side characters were great and I always love a reality tv set book.
Pining: Guarding Temptation by Talia Hibbert
Another novella, Guarding Temptation was the perfect treat for me just before the Election anxiety took over my life. I clung to this quote through the week: “It makes me feel like the unfairness in the world may never end. But that’s okay, because hope never dies.” Guarding Temptation is about two friends who wind up living together because one friend is getting death threats from right wing scary people that are getting a little too real. Despite that terrible synopsis, it’s actually really marvelous and sexy. I definitely recommend.
Black Love: After Hours Redemption by Kianna Alexander
I didn’t love this category romance and you can see my full thoughts in my ARC Review if you’re curious for more. Here is a quick one sentence synopsis though: Blaine Woodson prioritized his career over Eden Voss like almost a decade ago and now he’s back offering her a job as a songwriter for a new solo star he’s signed. (You can tell my feelings in how I summarize, honestly. Sorry?)
Non-Regency Historical: Destiny’s Surrender by Beverly Jenkins
Billie is an incredible protagonist and I loved this book for her mostly. She’s a whore who accidentally gets pregnant by Andrew Yates, but she doesn’t track him down to let him know until after her life and the baby’s future is on the line. She shows up during Andrew’s engagement party. I thought this was really fun and it includes this excellent line: “So thanks for coming back, but I can take care of myself.”
Set in Another World: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
If you want more comprehensive thoughts, you can see my ARC review, but, here’s the most pertinent paragraph of it for romance bingo purposes: “So now seems like the right time to squeal about my ship. I love them the absolute most and I’m basically Dido singing, “I will go down with this ship,” because even while I was falling in love with them, baked into the plot is a “this love is doomed conflict.” I am DISTRAUGHT and I need book two immediately, but only if it gives me an HEA. Otherwise, I would like six hundred fix it fics giving me what I need.” So, basically, if Roanhorse’s publisher could let her announce book two info soon, that would be awesome.
Somewhere You’ve Never Been: Sweet on You by Carla de Guzman
Set in the Philippines, Sweet on You is a really fun, prank filled romance that is guaranteed to make you want something sweet and also probably coffee. I really enjoyed this one and hope that Carina will give us some more from de Guzman, especially from the sisters.
Hockey: Always Only You by Chloe Liese
I definitely picked this book up because of Nick and I’m so glad I did. This is about a social media manager and a hockey player and Y’ALL, the pining is so well done and beautiful. I really loved the representation with the rheumatoid arthritis and the autism representation. I really thought this whole book was quite well done.
Older Heroine: Sun-Kissed by Laura Florand
This novella follows a widower and a divorcée and it’s… delightful. I’m keen to read it again once I’ve read through all of the books that lead up to it though. This couple is so great and they have fantastic chemistry. I loved the friends to lovers aspect of them knowing their friendship is actually really strong and can survive this attempt at being more.
Librarian/Bookseller Main Character: Me + Somebody’s Son
by Christina C. Jones
I love Christina C. Jones. Her novellas are always quick and fun and give you a great story. I really enjoyed this one, which is about Haven, who is not interested in a relationship, and August, the very cute guy from her past that has her sort of reconsidering her stance on relationships. Haven is a bookseller and August is a florist and y’all, it’s good.
Banter: Truth or Dare by Danielle Allen
This book is so hot and steamy and delivers an excellent friends to lovers romance in a pretty short amount of space. The banter between this group of friends who are on an island for a destination wedding (I’m so jealous of their non-COVID affected lives) is top notch excellence and you know, I think I need to read it again. I adored it and I hope you will too!
New to You Author: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Cemetery Boys is a pretty delightful book about Yads, a trans boy who wants his family to recognize that he is a brujo so that he can participate in a ceremony for Día de Muertos, and Julien, a ghost that Yads has somehow oops become attached to. This book is cute and fun and sad and sweet and I really, really enjoyed it.
Royalty: A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
A Hallmark movie but with sex is essentially the main pitch for this book and it certainly fulfills that, but unfortunately, it just didn’t quite work for me. It’s perfectly fine for what it is, but I wanted more from it. I never really felt for the romance. I did, however, love all of the side characters so I’m optimistic for the future books.
HEA: Pretty Face by Lucy Parker
I love this book so much! Luc and Lily are adorable and wonderful and this is just absolutely everything. Luc is the playwright, owner of the theatre where this play is about to be performed and he really isn’t here for Lily Lamprey, a sexy actress with an incredibly annoying voice. But Lily isn’t here for Luc’s sexism and calls him tf out and it’s great and beautiful and Luc realizes he’s wrong and they fall in love and it is magical. What a gift.
Series Following a Big Family: Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese
This book is heavy in a lot of ways because Willa is dealing with the fact that her mother is very sick with cancer (CW: this doesn’t end well). She’s also juggling being a soccer player for UCLA and her classes. One of her professors is a jerk who pairs her up with the guy that ignored her when she asked for his notes. Only, Ryder isn’t ignoring her, he just didn’t hear her. Even once they sort out that Ryder has lost his hearing pretty significantly, the two don’t exactly get along. I really love the way Ryder figures out how to take care of Willa and how Willa slowly begins letting Ryder in. The romance in this book is really well executed, in my opinion.
Crafts or Puzzles: Miracles and Menorahs by Stacey Agdern
This book really needs to be turned into a Hallmark movie like, right now. I didn’t love it as a book, but it would make such a good movie, I’m angry they keep making Christmas movies and calling them Hanukah movies instead of making this. The real plot is that Sarah is in charge of planning the Hanukah Festival, which is a big deal. There’s a really conservative Christian guy who really wants to turn this into a Christmas festival so she needs a special art exhibit to keep it Hanukah focused. She asks Issac to make a big menorah and he says no because he doesn’t believe in commercializing Hanukah, entirely missing the point. Anyway, they have an intense connection anyway and it’s cute, but would be a better movie than book.
A Beautiful Outfit: Written in the Stars by Alexandra Bellefleur
This was such a good row of reading for me, honestly, because four of these books are new favorites and Written in the Stars is definitely one of them. This f/f contemporary is everything I wanted in a book that is super loosely inspired by Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones Diary. You know how if Bridget Jones were in anything besides a rom com, everyone would be like, “wow, your life is so cool!”? Well, that’s Elle. Her parents are so unsupportive of how she’s making her living being awesome with astrology and I’m like, “YES, ELLE” and she doesn’t wear boring pantsuits to work (a pain, I can attest). And then you’ve got Darcy, who is an actuary, and is also kind of like, “this girl is a MESS.” But Elle is not a mess, Elle is wonderful, and Darcy realizing that is wonderful in every way. I love it. I love Elle. I want to hug them both and also I can’t wait until my physical copy arrives so I can put it in it’s place of honor on my shelves.
Grumpy + Sunshine: The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan
Tbh, this book is everything to me. It is such a fantastic historical romance with lists galore and also just… Chloe!!! Jeremy!!! They’re both so precious and I love them and I’m so thrilled Courtney Milan put up physical copies signed for the Runoff Election Auction thing because I’m soon to have a signed copy and I can’t wait! Oh, as for the plot, so there’s this games thing happening in Wedgeford and Jeremy is back after being away for like three years and Chloe is not about to let him back into her life. But he offers to pay her if she’ll help him come up with a list of traits he wants in a wife who will be just like Chloe, but obviously not Chloe. Oh and no one knows he’s the Duke. It’s great fun. I love it a lot.
STEM Heroine: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Spoiler Alert is… such a great book, honestly. Both April and Marcus are really marvelous characters with really awesome journeys through the book. There is boundary setting on page, which is remarkable, there are fun date scenes, there’s a great side character, and a lot of fun fanfiction moments. I’m not usually a huge fan of books with deception plots and will admit, I got really anxious reading this one, but I should have known Olivia wouldn’t let me down. All in all, I loved it!
Twitter Rec: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
God bless Aarya for talking about YDEO on twitter and me being like, “well, okay, I’ll just go ahead and pick this up now.” It is one of my favorite books of the year now and I just absolutely adored it in every way. The pettiness is on point. The prank war was really fun. Nick and Naomi are precious and I love them and all of their messy ways. This book may not be for you if you can’t get past Naomi’s choices, but it was 100% for me. I loved this so much, I cried happy tears toward the end. Now I want to reread it desperately.
Rainy: Well Played by Jen DeLuca
I truly just could not get on board with the male romantic lead in this book and the further away from it I get, the more aggravated I am because Stacy deserved more than him. This is a book with a deception plot, which like I mentioned above, I’m not usually a fan of, but what really limited my enjoyment of this one is that the actual romantic lead catfishes Stacy for a large percentage of the book and then continues to be a disappointment instead of groveling profusely on his knees because Stacy deserves that. So… YMMV on this one, but it didn’t work for me.
Punny Title: If the Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon
This three star rating is not at all meant to suggest a bad rating, it’s just that this book wasn’t right for me when I read it because there is a really unhealthy work dynamic here for Amanda that wouldn’t allow me to sink fully into the book/romance because of things going on in my personal life. The full cast of characters in If the Boots Fits are very fun and it was nice to spend time with the Pleasants again and I’m very excited about Jesse’s book! (Fall 2021 likely, according to Rebekah Weatherspoon.)
Quintessential Fall Activity: Her Halloween Treat by Tiffany Reisz
It’s not that I didn’t like this book, it’s that I don’t understand why everyone else RAVES about this book (or series). Basically, our main female character surprises her boyfriend only to discover he’s married so she goes on to Oregon for her brother’s wedding and falls into bed with her brother’s best friend who is supposed to be convincing her to stay in Oregon to be the property manager for the company the brother/brother’s friend have invested in. It’s a perfectly fine book, but it didn’t really do anything special for me, which is disappointing given my expectations were pretty high.
Pet(s): The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaller
This is a book that should maybe not work for me as well as it did given that our grumpy male love interest was actually just straight up awful, but I enjoyed all the over the top nonsensical things that were happening so I let a lot of things slide. I thought it was pretty funny and made me laugh out loud fairly often, but there were a few scenes that just felt incongruent with the overall tone of the book. The pet though? Super cute. This dog has a million sweaters and he is precious and I love him.
Plus-Size Heroine on the Cover: Holiday Honey by Chencia C. Higgins
This is very much a short story, not even really a novella, and for what it is, I think Higgins knocked it out of the park. I was super invested in the short amount of pages we got to spend time with these characters and I hope they’ll make it beyond their explosive physical chemistry. This has fake dating in it that’s from a business arrangement and I, for one, am super into that. I would definitely recommend for your holiday reading.
Romance Author Writing in Another Genre:
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Surprising no one, Alyssa Cole absolutely knocked my socks off with When No One is Watching, her debut thriller. Alyssa is a magical being who continually amazes me with the way she levels up her writing. Also though, the ending of this book definitely leaves things open for more like this and I for one, would be here for it.
And there you have it! My #FallIntoRomBingo wrap up! I can’t wait to start on #SnowInLoveBingo in nine days! I hope you will all join us for that one too. If you participated in #FallIntoRomBingo, please let me know how it went for you! Did you read any new favorites?