I read all four of these Harlequin ARCs in a weekend and let me tell you, it was delightful. I love falling into a story and getting to meet the characters so quickly and to watch the relationship develop. It was just such a fun time. I really, really enjoyed the experience and I’m so excited to tell you about these four books! Three of these are already out. An Offer from Mr. Wrong by Niobia Bryant came out in June so I’m super late getting you this review. But the good news is that you can read it now whenever you’d like! Then we have The Spirit of Second Chances by Synithia Williams, which is the second book in her Heart & Soul series and came out in August. I’ve been really enjoying this one and I’m now looking forward to book three! Then we have Cinderella’s Last Stand by Michelle Lindo-Rice, which also came out in August. And finally, we have The Rivals of Casper Road by Roan Parrish, which I loved and can’t wait for everyone to get to read when it comes out on September 27th. Now let’s get started!
An Offer from Mr. Wrong
by Niobia Bryant
Other than a trope that I absolutely hate, this book was a really fun time and I really enjoyed Bryant’s writing. I look forward to reading more from her in the future as this was the first book by her that I’ve read.
Essentially, this book is about Bobbie, a private investigator, and Lincoln Cress, a chef and also the man that Bobbie was investigation a few months ago. For reasons that I don’t understand, Bobbie and Lincoln reconnect over a very highly contentious dinner while Bobbie is taking photos of a cheating husband having dinner with someone who is not his wife. Then ultimately, Lincoln realizes he could benefit from having Bobbie fake date him so that he can feel more comfortable at these family gatherings he’s trying to get used to. I should mention, Lincoln has recently found out (thanks to Bobbie), that he’s actually a Cress Brother and now they’re all trying to get to know one another.
There is a connection between Bobbie and Lincoln right away, but for their own reasons, they’re determined to resist. Given that this is a book in the Desire line, you may be able to guess that they don’t really manage to resist one another. And I really did enjoy their connection. Where this book lost me was the third act breakup. I just didn’t like anything about it and then I didn’t like the way it was resolved either. So that’s how I landed on a 2.5/3. star rating.
The Spirit of Second Chances
by Synithia Williams
I really love Williams’ categories thus far. She just really seems to get the way a category needs to be paced so that even though this book feels like such a slow burn of a second chance, it still has the opportunity and breathing room for the characters to SHINE. I really love this series as well and am so, so excited for the final book to come out. I also tried to convince the woman checking me out at Barnes & Noble to buy this one because a) have you seen that cover? and b) Williams is just really knocking it out of the park with this series.
There is a really irritating ex-husband in this book, but I liked the role he had to play. This book also doesn’t shy away from tackling some of the really messed up things that happened in these old plantation homes that white families have tried to whitewash over to pretend that their reputations should be spotless. I really appreciated how well this was done and incorporated into this story. And the romance is absolutely precious, but also, where can I find a man who apologizes with homemade cinnamon rolls? Because, yes, please. You’re forgiven.
Cinderella’s Last Stand
by Michelle Lindo-Rice
To say that I didn’t enjoy this book honestly feels like it might be an understatement. Lindo-Rice had me somehow intrigued and also so convinced that these two characters needed to do a lot of either growing up or therapy on how to reckon with their own demons before they tried to have a relationship built on the ground of Maddie working as Axel’s assistant and feeling like she had no boundaries because he bulldozed over them. I somehow liked neither of the characters and so while I was pleased to see character growth from beginning to end, I couldn’t really believe it? It felt unearned somehow. I wish I knew how to better explain what I mean, but these characters felt so two-dimensional. They were certainly struggling with real things. Axel is a celebrity and used to other people catering to his whims. He’s kind of an awful boss in that regard, although he tries to make up for it with expensive gifts he mostly lets Maddie pick out for herself. And Maddie is deeply insecure and lets Axel run right through her boundaries and then gets mad at him constantly for doing so. And I can understand why, but it was something about the way the two communicated that really kept me from buying into their shifting dynamic. That said, the writing was certainly compelling and it kept me reading, so I would still recommend it. I’m definitely inclined to try Lindo-Rice again in the future, but I may look a little more into what the tropes are before I do!
The Rivals of Casper Road
by Roan Parrish
This book was the perfect cozy fall vibes that I would like out of all of my reads at the moment. I loved everything about the way Zachary and his regimented routine came to find himself almost unexpectedly playing and relaxing with Bram. I loved the prank war. I love the way the two of them had fun falling in love. And mostly, I loved the way I really got to feel this romance. I feel like I know the characters. I feel like I know the community. I feel like I want Garnet Run to be a real actual place that I could go live. It’s honestly gotten increasingly more rare for me to increase my rating as time goes by rather than decrease it and that’s partially because it’s not often that books have been really lingering in my mind lately. But this book achieved that and more and I cannot wait until it’s officially out so everyone else can experience this joy and coziness alongside me.
I really loved half of these books and want to shove The Rivals of Casper Road by The Spirit of Second Chances at everyone. So if you’re only going to pick up a couple of category romances this year, I highly recommend both of those. That said, I also think both of those are best enjoyed with the full context of the books that came before them, so that’s something to keep in mind. But mostly, I hope you enjoy what you’re reading. Have you read any of these books yet? If so, definitely let me know your thoughts down below!
One response to “Harlequin ARC Reviews: An Offer from Mr. Wrong, The Spirit of Second Chances, Cinderella’s Last Stand, and The Rivals of Casper Road”
[…] ARC Review of Cinderella’s Last Stand by Michelle Lindo-Rice […]