ARC Reviews: The Soulmate Equation, The Hellion’s Waltz, and It Happened One Summer

I’ve been trying to be thematic in some way with my reviews lately, but at this point, that just means I still haven’t reviewed The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren, which came out last month and the review has been written for about as long. So today, I am presenting you with a review of The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (out now), The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite (released yesterday), and It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey (out on July 13th). Thanks so much to Netgalley and the respective publishers (Gallery and Avon) for the review copies!

Image Descriptions: Covers of The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren, The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite, and It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

I have been trying to write this review for basically two weeks and I just still don’t know how to explain in words that Christina Lauren has this magical ability to give me exactly what I need most of the time. I think there is a lot of noise surrounding the writing duo because their style has changed dramatically since they started out in terms of how steamy their books are and sometimes their books are a little more women’s fiction and a little less romance. But, for me, most of the time, their books hit me right where they’re supposed to and this one is not an exception.

The Soulmate Equation is about Jess Davis, a single mom and entrepreneurial statistician, who gets roped into contributing her DNA into this new fangled dating app that can allegedly find your soulmate. Both Jess and I are skeptical of this design and I was pleased that the book at least touched on the fact that the premise screams a eugenics problem and it was enough for me to then hand wave away all other concerns. Anyway, Jess winds up with an unheard of 98% match with this man who is one of the founder people of the company AND happens to be the man with whom she keeps sort of having small clashes with. But the company wants the PR so they convince her that they’ll pay her to date River Pena.

So that’s the premise. The book itself? Excellent. I loved the banter and Juno (the kid). I loved the grandparents and the best friend. I loved River and his grumpy attitude. I loved the description of this photoshoot they had to do and wanted to be able to see pictures of the results. I literally do not have criticism for this book because everything about it worked for me. It was a huge boost of serotonin and I am so grateful for it.

In determining whether you should read it, these are some things you may want to consider:
1. This book is not steamier than many of their other recent releases.
2. It’s maybe a little bit of a slow burn.
3. Juno is everything to me, but if you don’t like kids in your romance, steer clear.
4. If you cannot hand wave away issues of eugenics after Dr. Pena promises you that’s not an issue… Welllllll, the entire premise of the book then becomes problematic and I’m a big believer in not torturing yourself.

But if your reading tastes are kind of like mine and you want something sweet and soft? This book!! So good!

Content Notes: hospital scenes (family member), parental neglect/abandonment, sex is at least mentioned/implied

The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite

The Hellion’s Waltz sucked me in pretty immediately into this small town England romance set maybe a little after the Regency? I’m not all that well versed in the actual history of England but this is set at one of the times when there wasn’t yet freedom to strike or organize for changed labor practices. I mean, I’m honestly just assuming those things exist now, but tbh, I don’t know.

ANYWAY, all that to say, this book brought in some historical context similar to Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War, which appealed to me immensely. But mostly what I loved about this is that these women team up to commit a heist! Well, sort of. There’s a lot more plot than that, but I was into it. I also really liked how basically immediately after seeing Madeline, Sophie is like HER, I want. This book is sexy and fun and just an all around good time.

If you’re trying to find a fun romp of a book this book definitely qualifies! Now there is a heavy undertone in some ways of angst because of some past scars, but the balance is exactly how I prefer my romance novels so I would still highly recommend!

Content Notes: on page sex scenes, discussion of abuse of power in work place(s)

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Piper Bellinger is heavily inspired by Alexis from Schitt’s Creek, which is, despite my attempts, apparently not a show that can fully capture my interest and attention the way it has basically everyone else. But Piper? Piper captured me nearly immediately. She’s accused of having no substance in chapter one and reading her processing that accusation is just fantastic and then everything that unfolds from there on is, in a word, captivating. And when grumpy Captain Brendan Taggert appears on page, my heart was ready. I am also obsessed with Hannah and can’t wait for her book.

So, obviously, I’m a huge fan of this book and that’s in large part because one of my favorite things in books will always be a person (usually a woman) really coming into her own. It’s a journey I love reading about. And this book pairs a thing I love with a man who adores Piper the way she is and is totally content to spoil her because he doesn’t find anything wrong with who she is as a person. I mean…. I loved that. Also, this book is very steamy so shout out to Tessa Bailey for that.

This book may not appeal to everyone though, so let’s talk about a couple of things that may impact a person’s enjoyment of this book. First, there is heavily gendered language used here equating biological sex to personality traits and it’s real heavy in the sex scenes. Second, the conflict here is both so obvious you know how it’s going to go and could definitely hamper one’s enjoyment if one really doesn’t like third act breakups or miscommunication. Third, if Alexis Rose annoys you, I wouldn’t really recommend giving this book a try. Fourth, this book is pretty white and straight. Fifth, I would say that Daniel (step-father) sending his step-daughter to a small town to run a bar (???) was a weird choice and I’m still not sure Piper ever really understood like what things cost, but you know, who cares about the plot really?

But, for me, this book was a delight and I adored it. It was compulsively readable and I was laughing and also swooning and also I almost cried a few times. I’ve mentioned before how I like books that touch on grief and I thought this book was fascinating in how it included a few different grief storylines. I loved Opal so much. Hannah and Fox are intriguing as all get out. Also, this book said hugs have rights and I am here for that.

Content Notes: hospital scene, death of a parent, death of a spouse, death of a child, alcohol consumption, jail, fire, storms

And there you have it! Three reviews. I hope these were helpful to you in some way. Have you read any of these? Are you planning on it? Let me know!


12 responses to “ARC Reviews: The Soulmate Equation, The Hellion’s Waltz, and It Happened One Summer”

  1. I loved Soulmate, and Juno was a fantastic addition to that story. I agree, a bit of a slow burn, but what stood out was how feel-good this story was. It made me happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Everyone has been saying how Soulmate Equation is so good but I can’t get over point no. 4 so I think I’ll skip for now.

    I have the first book in Olivia’s series and I’m so excited to pick it up. I’ve heard really really good things.

    Also yay! We felt very similarly about Tessa Bailey. I 100% agree about the cisgendered language though. I’m frustrated that her editor at Avon isn’t catching it. It’s just so unnecessary and adds nothing to the scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s probably a good choice for you! There is maybe two sentences spent addressing those concerns, which was enough for me, but I don’t think would be enough for you! It’s unfortunate too, because otherwise I think you would love it. Or hate it… There’s a lot of math talk. Lol

      The first book in Olivia’s series is my favorite! This third one is my second favorite. I just think her prose is gorgeous.

      I truly do not understand why she leans into it so hard!!


  3. I really enjoyed The Soulmate Equation, but the DNA stuff did bug me. After talking it over with some friends, it bugged me even more.
    As for Bailey’s book… I live and grew up in Washington State. I’ve been to Westport a few times. I’m not aware of a typhoon ever hitting the coast here. I would say the water is too cold. Maybe one would hit CA, but WA? I even tried Googling it to see if I was wrong in my memories, but I wasn’t. The coast will get storms, but not tropical ones. That kind of ruined the book for me. I didn’t notice the other stuff because I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I was reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s always so interesting to see what works for some readers and totally doesn’t for others! I have come really close to DNF’ing audiobooks when the narrator mispronounces Appalachia (or pronounces it the way people not from here say it, I suppose) so I sort of understand the local knowledge making something a no go!

      Liked by 1 person

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