Dueling Review, March Smashness

March Smashness: Football Week

Scoring off the Field by Naima Simone (2018)

Heat Factor: Sex. But we have feelings about it.

Character Chemistry: Is it love or is it codependence?

Plot: Angst, horniness, confrontation, angst

Overall: Readers of this need to love a mess as much as Marie Kondo.


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On the Line by Liz Lincoln (2018)

Heat Factor: These kids are very horny.

Character Chemistry: Organic (good thing she’s a science teacher!)

Plot: Carrie is Seth’s nanny so they absolutely can’t act on their attraction. (Again.) (Oops, but okay for real this time.)

Overall: Cute and engaging but you have to like nanny books.

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Dueling Review, March Smashness

March Smashness: Baseball Week

Reading the Signs by Kiera Andrews (2019)

Heat Factor: Praise kink and ropes and spankings, OH MY!

Character Chemistry: Big D energy. And by that we mean Daddy. Plus serious daddy issues.

Plot: A veteran catcher uses his chill dom energy to tame a hot-headed rookie pitcher.

Overall: Now Holly understands why Erin is obsessed with M/M sports romance.


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The Changeup by Nicole Falls (2019)

Heat Factor: Disappointed that the teased phone sex didn’t actually happen, because the sex was fun and sexy.

Character Chemistry: She giggles so much. Enough said.

Plot: On the one hand, Geffri plays baseball. On the other hand, Geffri meets a man.

Overall: This was a weird book.

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Dueling Review

Dueling Review: Wish Out of Water by Holley Trent (2022)

Hooked, Book #1

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: The two sex scenes are pretty detailed, but there are only two of them

Character Chemistry: Her magic doesn’t suck his happiness away. It’s fate!

Plot: Cooper doesn’t want to be king, so he asks Brook to do a marriage of convenience with him. Apparently marrying an American means he automatically abdicates. (???) Plot twist: Brook is a mermaid and discovers she’s the real heir to the throne.

Overall: The pacing was off…it was like: solid start, slow, slow, slow, INTRIGUE!, denouement.

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: It had moments of heat but was largely pretty mild.

Character Chemistry: They’re fated mates and I guess fated rulers.

Plot: He’s supposed to be king. She’s supposed to be a human nobody. But actually she’s a mermaid with royal lineage and it’s enough to throw everything into chaos.

Overall: It feels like a very long start to something and that didn’t actually develop into its cohesive, finished result.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: There’s a bit of dissonance between the perfection of their coming together and, like, everything else about their relationship. 

Character Chemistry: They’re basically fated mates.

Plot: She’s a nobody, except she just has no idea that she’s not a nobody, and he’s a bastard prince who grew up outside the kingdom but is somehow inheriting the throne because of Reasons, which she is supposed to fix but doesn’t.

Overall: I was extremely confused. Also this relationship contains most of the “I’m leaving now” drama that I actively dislike.

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Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall (2022)

Holly got an ARC of Something Fabulous for herself, and Erin was like, “You got that for me, right?” Obviously, that meant we had to review this book together. It’s time for a Dueling Review!

Something Fabulous, Book #1

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: I don’t think I’ve ever read (highly enthusiastic) rimming as the first interlude, and it was a refreshing change of pace 

Character Chemistry: In its essentials, the grumpy one is soft for the sunshine one. Or, rather, the rigid one is soft for the free spirited one. 

Plot: A very bad proposal of marriage leads to a road trip of personal discovery

Overall: I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, and then I sighed with happiness

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: Unexpectedly explicit about arseholes

Character Chemistry: Utterly irritating, utterly captivated

Plot: Valentine finds himself the villain in a gothic novel

Overall: I found the silly first half a slog, but my heart went pitter-pat in the end

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Dueling Review

Dueling Review: Then, Now, Always by Mona Shroff

To kick off Secret Baby Week, Holly and Ingrid buddy-read Then, Now, Always by Mona Shroff. And you know what that means: time for a duel! (Moderated by Erin) 

Holly’s Take:

Heat Factor: The door is firmly closed.

Character Chemistry: Um. It’s complicated. But also love at first sight.

Plot: Maya and Sam were in love. But they broke up. Now it’s 16 years later and Maya finally tells Sam that he has a daughter.

Overall: This was kind of a weird book and I’m still processing how I feel about it.

Ingrid’s Take:

Heat Factor: This is not a book with a temperature.

Character Chemistry: It’s both “at first sight” and also a slow, complicated development at the same time.

Plot: Maya and Sam had a good thing going until everything blew up and incredibly bad choices were made. Then, 16 years later, Maya fesses up that she’s kept their child secret from Sam and he’s an emotional wreck, understandably.

Overall: I maintain that this trope is a massive romantic buzzkill and this book is like a case study in why that is.

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