Do you ever take time away from reading a certain type of book and then when you return, you can’t help but be utterly baffled about why you stopped reading it? That’s how I feel about reading these categories. Why did I pause reading them for months? They’re so delightful. Anyway, all that to say, I finally picked up three of my Harlequin ARCs and I’m so excited to talk about them today. First up, I read His to Defend by Sharon C. Cooper, a December release from the Suspense line. Then I finally read The Bad Boy Experiment by Reece Ryan from the Desire line. And finally, I picked up The Rebel Returns by Nadine Gonzalez, a February release, also from the Desire line, although I wound up DNF’ing it. Now, let’s talk about them!
His to Defend by Sharon C. Cooper
His to Defend was a really great, fast-paced romantic suspense where both the romance and the suspense plot felt fully realized. If anything, the romance timeline felt maybe a tad quick, but not in a way that detracted from my enjoyment or caused me to not believe in the romance. I really enjoy Sharon C. Cooper’s writing and I’m looking forward to reading many more books from her.
This book is about Mina, a nurse, and Maxwell, a cop. Maxwell is with his ex-best friend when Jeremy is killed on duty and he goes to tell Mina, his ex-wife, and the woman Maxwell has always felt drawn to. There’s a lot in this book about how Jeremy was actually super shady, and I could see some readers finding his characterization to be a little over the top. I did not have that issue, but I did wish sometimes that the mystery aspect didn’t resolve so much around him. Anyway, when Max tells Mina, things sort of take off from there. She’s mugged in the parking lot leaving the hospital the next day and Max comes to pick her up from the hospital and from there, the feelings they’ve been fighting become truly impossible to ignore.
The only thing I wish we had gotten to see a little bit more of was how it goes becoming public with their relationship, given that everyone in their lives was so familiar with what had gone down with Jeremy and Mina and the complicated nature of dating your former best friend’s ex-wife. We don’t really get to see that, but Maxwell and Mina do talk about it as an issue. Anyway, all that to say, I really enjoyed the book and I hope to read more Sharon C. Cooper soon!
The Bad Boy Experiment by Reese Ryan
Reese Ryan is an expert category romance writer and I am so grateful she continues to share her skills with the world. Her categories just deliver again and again a complete story with impeccable characterization and little hints of things to come in the future that always leave me wanting more. This particular book is probably my second favorite in The Bourbon Brothers series, although I think I accidentally missed one that could knock it from its place in my list. But regardless, I really liked the way this book showcases Renee reconnecting with Cole, a sort of modern day rake. I really enjoyed the little glimpse we got of Wilhemenia’s diary too, because I always love books that pull a little bit on history and make those connections to the present. And the spiciness in this book is well done as always! Just another very solid hit from Ryan.
The Rebel’s Return by Nadine Gonzalez
I stopped reading this book at 56% in because it just wasn’t working for me. Usually when I pick up a category romance, it’s always a standalone, even if it’s part of a series. With The Rebel’s Return, I felt like I was dropped into the middle of a story and it wasn’t pieced together particularly well form there. I had trouble following it. And then even once I got past the beginning of the story and started to figure out the overall world-building situation I seemed to be expected to already know, there were more editing issues with continuity that just didn’t feel like the book itself was lining up to make sense.
What are your favorite category romances? Please share the titles with me below!