January 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 12
Avg. Rating of the 12 books: 3.5/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 2/12
*five star ratings are bold

  • The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
  • We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
  • The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones
  • I Wanna Text You Up by Teagan Hunter (Texting #2)
  • The Upside to Being Single by Emma Hart
  • No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald
  • Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey (Hot & Hammered #2)
  • The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
  • Good Guy by Kate Meader (Rookie Rebels #1)
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  • Caught Up in a Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #1)
  • You Had Me at Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #2)

 

Started out the new decade & year with 12 books! I was surprised at some of them, like No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald & The Upside of Being Single by Emma Hart, which only received two out of five star ratings from me.

Here’s to a book-filled February!

Hot & Hammered Series by Tessa Bailey

 

39854434Book #1: Fix Her Up

Publication Date: June 14, 2019
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

Review:

Let me just say, this is one of the filthiest books I’ve ever read. Tessa Bailey literally has you feel the chemistry between Georgie and Travis. If you are not someone that likes smutty romance novels, I’d recommend not reading this one. On the other hand, if you are someone that likes steam in a book, this might just be one of the best romances of 2019 because of it.

Everything about Fix Her Up was perfect in my eyes. The characters, the development, the love, the romance, the steam, everything. Georgie & Travis were two of my favorite characters that I’ve read in a romance novel. She was just so sweet and had her unexpected moments where I was like “woah, what?!”. I never read a book with a story like this either. Georgie was such a family girl and her dream was to keep kids happy at birthday parties, which I’ve never really heard of as a career in a book like this before.

Travis was an absolute dream. You really feel for him after an injury ends his baseball career (sports romances are so great already, hello), but you find yourself rooting for him from the very beginning. I wanted him to figure out his life and was cheering him on at some points.

The angst in this book was *kisses fingertips*, one of the best I’ve read. My heart hurt multiple times throughout this book to the point where I wanted to jump through and fix everything myself.

Overall, I’d read this book again and again. I think it was one of the best romances of 2019. Tessa Bailey really got a good one here. Having a series called Hot & Hammered, I’m curious to see where this is going to go.

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44148563Book #2: Love Her or Lose Her 

Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

Review:

Thank you to Tessa Bailey, Avon Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to love this book as much as I loved Fix Her Up, but there was something just different in this book. It was not bad in the slightest bit, but something just felt off in this one.

I wholeheartedly believe that the ending had a pretty big influence on my review. I loved this whole book. I loved Dom and Rosie. I loved Dom’s secrets, I loved Rosie’s angst, I loved it all. However, I felt like the end seemed a little rushed and that’s why I gave this a four-star rating instead of five. I waited the whole novel and rooted for these two and the ending just seemed like…BAM.

Tessa Bailey knows how to write angst. It really makes me feel for the characters and I can appreciate the writing when that happens. The pain between Dom and Rosie was truly, truly felt throughout the entire book. I could see the story-line as realistic with what they were going through.

The connection and steam between Rosie and Dom was felt for sure. You could see that they loved each other, but this story was very different from what I’ve read before. The story of “we don’t love each other, but our bodies need each other” was very interesting and I think Tessa Bailey wrote it beautifully.

Overall, I can’t wait for more Tessa Bailey books. She’s a fantastic writer that knows how to include all aspects of a perfect romance (love, angst, trust, etc.). She’s definitely becoming one of my favorite authors.

No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald

Publication Date: January 10, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Rating: ★★

Everyone knows a girl like Sloane. She was always The Single One. She never brought a plus-one to weddings. She was the woman you’d set up with your single cousin. She joined ballroom dancing classes to meet men and was the queen of online dating.

But then she met Myles. Perfect Myles, with denim-blue eyes and a dazzling smile that melted her insides. She’d finally found The One.

Except she didn’t imagine that Myles’s idea of Happy Ever After would include Sloane battling an overflowing laundry basket, buying birthday cards for his family, and ironing his Calvin Klein underpants.

Then Sloane finds out that Myles has a secret.

The fairy tale is well and truly over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Eating her weight in Ben & Jerry’s and large Meat Feast pizzas can only get Sloane so far before she has to make a decision… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life?

Review:

Thank you to Sophie Ranald, Bookouture & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I read the synopsis of this novel and was immediately interested. It was described as laugh-out-loud and I felt like the blurb given was very misleading. I think that the very end has some moments that were amusing, but I’m not sure that I laughed out loud once.

This book ended up being more somber than funny. I wouldn’t mind that in the slightest bit if I wasn’t expecting funny. If it was advertised as a secretive, sad novel, then I’d be all for it.

Sloane was a kind of likable character to the point where by the end, I could almost see me her being friends with her in a real life scenario. Throughout the novel, I had a hard time with the characters overall. There were some side characters (especially Vivienne) that I thought had better progression than the main characters and that made me have a negative reaction to this book.

There were a good amount of realistic points made and that’s the reason why this book got a two-star rating from me. I could resonate and think of real life scenarios that would really happen and I thought that Sophie Ranald did a good job with that.

Overall, if this book was described differently, I would’ve known what I was getting into. Having this book described as “laugh-out-loud” was simply misleading and it was a pretty heavy book to get into. I would definitely give Sophie Ranald another try as this was my first read by her.

 

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

Review:

This book made me sad. Not for the plot, but because normally, Christina Lauren’s reads are four-to-five star books in my opinion. This one just fell flat and I’m sad because of it.

I read before that this book was not going to be like their other ones. Normally, Christina Lauren’s books have me bursting into laughter while swooning over the romance. Twice in a Blue Moon was very, very different. I’m a huge fan of reuniting and friends-to-lovers, but there was just a lot wrong.

There was barely any development and conflict for the amount that was going on within this book. It’s supposed to be a fourteen-year difference and I looked at the characters like they should be pretty different than they used to be. Tate did change quite a bit, no longer a girl that lets everyone walk over her and becomes assertive. However, I still feel like there wasn’t enough of a development to allow a better rating.

Sam and Tate were unlikable characters and I’m not sorry to say that. I’ve read most of Christina Lauren’s novels and these characters did not have any of the charm or wit that the characters usually possess. The connection wasn’t really there and even it seemed that the smutty parts (which is so good in their other books) really wasn’t all there. It seemed as though once something started to get going, it just ended abruptly and moved on to the next part of the story.

I just love Christina Lauren so much that they have my heart and high ratings. Their stories and words just flow so beautifully usually, and that’s why it pains me that I didn’t like this book. If I had to put Twice in a Blue Moon into one word, it would be forgettable.

Favorite Reads of the Decade

2010-2019 really flew by, but had some truly amazing debuts for novels, authors, and now we all have our specific favorites! To see the book’s Goodreads page, please click on the picture. Here are my favorite reads of the decade:

Ain't He Precious? (Sex and Sweet Tea, #1)

The Sex & Sweet Tea Series by Juliette Poe
Ain’t He Precious (Book #1) Published: April 11, 2017

This is the pseudonym of popular romance author Sawyer Bennett. This series has five books and takes place in a little town of Whynot, North Carolina. Learning about all of the characters, who they are, who their siblings are, what’s happening around them and who they become in this books were absolutely astounding and I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves romance!
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Room by Emma Donoghue
Published: August 20, 2010

Obviously, this is a favorite for a lot of people. I loved the story, the writing and just the emotions that Room put me through. This book was made into a movie because of the attention that it received and Brie Larson did such a fantastic job portraying one of the main characters. If you haven’t yet, this is one of my favorite fiction reads and I’d recommend any adult to read it. The story is so moving and emotional.

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The Prenup by Lauren Layne
Published: July 11, 2019

The Prenup was the first Lauren Layne novel that I read. After I read this book, I began reading all of her books. I read I want to say… 6 of them back to back, whether in a series or not. Lauren has a spectacular writing style where you get sucked into the angst and romance that she delivers. Romance lovers, pick up Lauren Layne, you will not regret it!

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Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 1, 2011

Skipping a Beat ripped my heart out of my chest. This book was so powerful and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The synopsis is enough to have you curious, but when you pick it up and read it, the unexpected things that happen make you cry uncontrollably. I love when a book can make me feel emotion like that and Skipping a Beat really gets you.

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No Exit by Taylor Adams
Published: June 25, 2017

When I picked up No Exit, it was after a bookish friend of mine told me that I needed to stop what I was doing and read it. She was very adamant that it wouldn’t take me more than a day to read and I held her to that. When I tell you I read this book in a few hours, I mean it. I couldn’t put it down and it turned out to be one of my favorites in the thriller/mystery category now.

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Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
Published: June 5, 2012

When I found myself starting to enjoy reading, I was unsure of what genre I’d really get in to. I took a chance with the romance genre and thought that maybe I’d like it, but maybe not because sometimes I think it’s too far fetched. I picked this book up because a woman at the library recommended it to me after looking around for a little while. I wanted something romantic but with a good story. The first few sentences of this book really grabbed me to the point where I needed to know what was going to happen. After reading this, I went on to read most of Mary Kay Andrews’ books because she just has a way with words.

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From Italy with Love Series by Tilly Tennant
Rome is where the Heart is (Book #1) Published: March 9, 2017

If you are a fan of a romantic travel stories, read this series. The first book was adorable and the second book was even better. Tilly Tennant really transports you to Rome and shows the beautiful details about the city. It’s like you can close your eyes and you’re in Rome with the characters. This series hasn’t been read that much according to Goodreads, but I will say that you should really pick this up!

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Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
Published: August 5, 2014

Ugly Love was put in my top five books of all time. I read her book It’s Ends with Us and immediately was hooked. This book made me just speechless. The journey that Colleen Hoover takes us on throughout this novel is absolutely astonishing and you sit there hoping for the ending you want. You sit there and cry and laugh along with the beautifully developed characters and just wait for the best part. Here’s the catch – the whole book is the best part.

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Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published: April 14, 2011

This book had a very, very lovable story. I love the premise because it is something I’ve never heard of before. It was extremely creative. I loved the characters especially. The friendships and how they withstand some weird things that go on take the priority in this book. Rainbow Rowell has written quite a bit of adult fiction, but writes young adult as well. I’d recommend Rainbow Rowell and her books to anyone!

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Red, White & Royal Blue
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston
Published: May 14, 2019

Okay, but Red, White & Royal Blue was a debut novel for Casey McQuiston in 2019. Casey  came out of absolutely nowhere with this beauty of a book and won two categories of the Goodreads Best of 2019 Awards! It really was a book that you would’ve never expected. The story was unlike any other young adult LGBTQ+ novel I’ve ever read. It was steamy, angsty, enemies-to-lovers and one of my favorite books not only of the year, but of all time.

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: May 17, 2016

The Problem with Forever was extremely emotional. The characters were written perfectly for the story. As an acknowledgement to group homes, these two main characters were portrayed in such a way that made me more curious about what they are like. It had me wondering about what group homes are really like and how they work. I would reread this 100 times over just for the characters.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published: May 9, 2017

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Eleanor Oliphant’s quirkiness and awkwardness was funny and depressing at the same time. Her story, which you will read about because I don’t want to give any spoilers, was absolutely disturbing, but amazing to read. The struggles that she endures were so heartbreaking, but extremely realistic. Gail Honeyman really did a phenomenal job.

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Simon Snow Series by Rainbow Rowell
Carry On (Book #1) Published: October 6, 2015

Everything about this series is perfect. I didn’t want it to end. At all. When I closed the books, I definitely pouted for a good while. This is a fantasy genre which I never would’ve expected myself to like. I usually don’t even like it, but Carry On really was the exception. It’s pure magic and so was its sequel. The third and final book (as far as we know) in the series, Any Way the Wind Blows, will be out hopefully within the next year.

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published: August 9, 2016

The Hating Game was full of chemistry. Sally Thorne has this specific writing style that really makes you feel their chemistry and how well Lucy and Josh actually work together. Their friendship was angsty, and I am a sucker for some harsh love. Josh and Lucy are one of my favorite book couples of all time. There were so, so many things with this book that made me absolutely swoon.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017

Astonishing. Riveting. Shocking. Stunning. Breathtaking.

I took my time with this book because I am a very emotional person. If you are a very emotional person like me, I suggest that you have tissues ready because I’m not sure where there was a chapter where I didn’t at least tear up. I full on ugly cried through a few of them. There were so many different emotions displayed through this novel that I felt like I was losing someone myself. The author did a WONDERFUL job showing the seven stages of grief. Prepare yourself for the reality of this book and give it a read if you haven’t already.

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published: May 14, 2019

The Unhoneymooners was my third Christina Lauren book that I have read. After finishing this new release, I can surely say that the dynamic duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings is becoming one of my favorite authors. My favorite things in all of the books I’ve read by them is the fact that they write love so well. Do not wait to read this one.

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Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Published: February 6, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face was the amazing debut novel of Rachel Hollis. This nonfiction was definitely unlike anything I had ever read before. The personal development and self-help in this book was outstanding to say the least. If you’re kind of in a rut or experiencing some doubt, I’d sincerely recommend this book and her other popular novel, Girl, Stop Apologizing.

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Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Published: July 18, 2017

This book definitely shows heartbreak. I resonate with these kind of books because I’ve seen love fall apart and mend back together. This book is so great because it would stand out to a lot of people for the same reason.  I could go on and on about the main character, Arthur Less. This was  wonderful to read. It was comforting because it shows that in the end, it will all work out the way that it is supposed to, not necessarily the way that you want it to.

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Published: May 15, 2018

When I started How to Walk Away, I was sucked right in. The characters were so wonderful to read. I felt like I was included in there and was watching everything unfold right in front of my eyes. I could really feel their pain and heartache and felt the inspiration that they all had to achieve their new goals after such a traumatic event. I was tearing up one second and busting out laughing the next. The writing was spectacular and I read Katherine Center’s newest book right after this one because I wanted to see how amazing both were. Katherine really, really has a way with words.

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Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
Published: December 10, 2019

Last but certainly not least. Regretting You was just… I feel almost speechless about it. I started it and from those first few sentences (as always), I was intrigued on how this story was going to turn out. I read and read until I finished it. Within hours. Simply because Colleen Hoover has a way with her words unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The tears that I had, the laughs I had, I felt like I was sharing my own little journey with the characters.

November 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 10
Avg. Rating of the 10 books: 3.8/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 2/10
*five star ratings are bold

  • Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #1)
  • Good Girl by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #2)
  • Love Story by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #3)
  • To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #1)
  • For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #2)
  • To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #3)
  • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
  • Well Met by Jen DeLuca (Well Met #1)
  • Day Zero by Kelly deVos (Day Zero Duology #1)
  • Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow

 

I found a new love of Lauren Layne. If you are a romance lover, stop what you’re currently reading to pick up a Lauren Layne novel!

Well Met by Jen Deluca

Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ★★★

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Review:

“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.”

Well Met started out so strong for me. I loved the learning about the characters, what their situations were and where they came from. I especially loved Emily and her sister because it showed their relationship and how eager she was to help her after her accident. It gave me a warm feeling that I would do for my sister as well.

Now, I picked this up because:
1) I was seeing it everywhere on Goodreads & Instagram.
2) I saw that it was a debut author which I love to read because it’s something fresh and usually has a new type of story which I haven’t ever read. (YAY for Renaissance Faires!)
3) I am a SUCKER for enemies-to-lovers romances.
4) It was nominated for the Goodreads Best of 2019 Awards!

I am someone who likes some steam in a romance novel, but this book didn’t have that much in it and I still found it to be adorable and a great story. The only issue that I noticed with this book is that it took a little too long to get started for me.

As I was reading, I thought that the book was progressing alright. I kept reading and then realized I was a little bit past the halfway point where things finally started to progress. If it started maybe 10-15% earlier, I think that this book would’ve kept my attention to the point where I would’ve finished this book right away. I am someone who loves a good slow burn novel, ESPECIALLY when it comes to friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers books, but this burn was just a littletoo slow for me.

Overall, I think that Jen DeLuca did a great job in her debut novel. I loved the beginning of this story and the ending was very sweet as well. I am very excited to see what will come from her in the future!

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: Putnam Books
Rating: ★★★★★

For fans of The Hating Game, a debut lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about two unhappily engaged people each trying to force the other to end the relationship–and falling back in love in the process.

Naomi Westfield has an Instagram-perfect life, including the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family every bride dreams of being a part of. They never fight, complain, or disagree. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And they are miserably and utterly sick of each other.

Tired of contorting herself to fit the ridiculous standards demanded by Nicholas’s family, Naomi wants out of the relationship. But there’s a catch: Whoever calls off the engagement will have to foot the enormous bill for the wedding. When Naomi finds out that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of wills to see who can annoy the other into surrendering through pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves. They’re having so much fun getting on each other’s nerves that it starts to feel like something else entirely. As Naomi discovers hidden feelings for Nicholas buried under three years of simmering resentment, she wonders if he feels the same way. Suddenly, the countdown to the wedding that may or may not come to pass feels more like a race to mutual destruction–and Naomi doesn’t want to be left alone at the finish line.

Review:

Thank you to Sarah Hogle, Putnam Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“His eyes are so black, I think I can see hell in them.”

This book is officially my child. I want to hold this book, squeeze all of the contents in this book, and read it over and over. I had no idea of such a concept, but this is definitely one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read. I took my time reading every word, and yes, it made it a longer read for me, but I really grasped everything that Sarah Hogle was writing.

This story starts out with an engaged couple, Naomi and Nicholas. They try to show that their relationship is picture perfect around their friends, but when they get behind closed doors, all bets are off. It’s really a game of who will end the engagement first. The problem is, whoever ends up ending the engagement, has to pay for the wedding items they already purchased (which was an enormous bill). With only three months until the wedding, Naomi and Nicholas do whatever they can to get each other to call off the wedding. By these childish games and showing their real selves to each other, they start to see who is actually who and how much fun they have together. A true lovers to enemies to lovers. Absolutely amazing.

“I tried to keep him at a safe distance where he could only see the decent parts of me, and it made us both miserable.”

In the beginning of this novel, it just seemed relentless. The almost childish games that Naomi plays with Nicholas. I didn’t know what was going to happen, as most of the mental problems were with Naomi. It seemed almost as she was picking on him, which I didn’t think I would approve of and like this novel for it. HOWEVER, when Nicholas starts going back at her, phew this novel became hilarious. Some of the stuff that they would do was laugh-out-loud funny. You could feel the annoyance and stress through every page. I think that this definitely is one of my favorites because of all of the different emotions you feel yourself as the reader. Comedy, Romance, Cringe-worthy moments, ARE YOU KIDDING ME moments, both happy & sad moments. It was just an amazing ride from start to finish.

I don’t care if you aren’t a fan of romances, you need to read this book. I literally could not put it down. I kept reading and reading and when it was over, I was actually sad. It’s been a long time where a novel has made me feel sad because it was over so I knew that this was one of my favorites ever. A great story and a great debut by Sarah Hogle!

Husband Material by Emily Belden

Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★

Sometimes love is unpredictable…

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Emily Belden & Graydon House for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The first couple sentences of Husband Material will get you. It has that immediate shock value and you’re left thinking “excuse me?!“.

Charlotte Rosen is a coder with a hot social media analytics company. She works hard and it shows an idea of what it might be like to be in a field that has a predominantly different gender. She has a roommate that has really no idea of her past. Within the first few sentences, you find out a lot about Charlotte and the biggest thing is that she was married, and that her husband had passed away. When her late husband’s ashes show up at her front door five years after his passing, Charlotte’s entire life gets uprooted, so you think. When a major secret comes out to Charlotte about her late husband, things really get crazy for her. While dealing with all of these things, will she find love along the way?

This book had a lot of promising qualities. The interest of what was going to happen was definitely there for me. I think that the premise was something that I had never read before and that had me interested. The synopsis was why I requested it in the first place. There were a lot of good things that had me excited for this publication, but as I read on, there were a lot of things that I couldn’t really grasp either.

I think one problem that I had was that this novel was classified as a contemporary romance. I live for contemporary romances, so I was excited to see where the romance was going to be from this synopsis. In my opinion, the romance fell a little flat for me. I think there were sweet moments with angst mixed in which is one of my favorites. However, my heart felt as though things were a little rushed and crunched in towards the end. I am someone all for a slow burn, but this was extremely slow. I would’ve liked it more if things happened a little sooner. Also, I feel as though the romance was a little off. It felt a little stilted and made me question what was going on. There was zero steam, which I usually don’t mind, but with the romance-o-meter off, it didn’t make me feel my best about this novel.

I also had a problem connecting with Charlotte. I understand that I have never been through such a situation, but I feel like I had a hard time understanding her actions. There were some things that Charlotte did that frustrates me, and in some circumstances this might be good, but I didn’t find it giving me any positive, stimulating feelings. She was pretty unreliable with her actions. You definitely want to go through the pages and grab her by the shoulders to shake her.

Lastly, I will say that I found the author to be hilarious. There were some parts of this book that had me laughing out loud. It’s rare that a romance novel would be so funny, but I’d definitely consider this as a romantic comedy with some drama!

If you are a clean comedy, chick-lit lover, I’d recommend this book to you! I’m definitely interested in more Emily Belden novels just from the laughs!