TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Blue Collar

August’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2022 was “Blue Collar.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.

Erin Read: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen (2016)

True North, Book #2

Why was this book on your TBR?  I’d been reading a lot of Sarina Bowen and I think it was a freebie?

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge? Apparently the hero’s working at his dad’s mechanic shop because he was just released from prison and no one else will employ him. I am agog.

What are your thoughts on the book?

I read a couple SB books and thought she trended angsty. Then I went on a new adult sportsball bender and most of those books from her were so sweet! So now that my head is all unicorns and butterflies, we go PURE ANGST with Steadfast. EveRyTHinG iS TerRiBLe. I mean, in fairness to these characters, they’re in their early 20s and he killed her brother while driving under the influence, and they have NO family support network, so yeah, that’s terrible. But uff da. It’s heavy.

Let me just get all the content notes I can think of out there: Emotional abuse by a parent, emotional neglect by a parent, abandonment by a parent, assault, death of a sibling, alcoholism, narcotics addiction, job insecurity, housing insecurity, financial insecurity, police abuse of power, description of a car crash involving no safety restraint… I’m sure there’s more but that’s probably the big stuff. So it’s a lot. 

Broadly speaking, I enjoyed the structure and writing of this book, though I’m not often one for angsty reads. The angst in this one didn’t really get me in the feels, but it also wasn’t emotionally stressful—could just be my headspace when I was reading. The romance didn’t quite hit for me, though I really liked how supportive they were of each other, especially in the second half of the book. My struggle primarily stemmed from the fact that this is a second chance romance in which they’ve both never stopped loving each other but they both agree he’s no good for her on account of he’s a convicted felon with a really serious drug addiction and uncertain employment/housing prospects, and yet they also rapidly shift from emotionally fraught to together again. It’s like they had sex again, and that flipped a switch to “yeah it’s complicated but feelings-wise we’re fine now,” meaning all the tension after that stemmed from them being discovered. Which segues into what I enjoyed more: the way Sophie tenaciously digs into the mystery of why her brother was in the car with a guy he hated in the first place.

Buy Now: Amazon

Holly Read: Renovation of Love by Meka James (20

Love on Madison Island, Book #1

Why was this book on your TBR?

I bought this book around the time when it came out, because I’d read another book by the author (and liked it) and was feeling excited about people finding love in their 40s. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

The hero owns a construction company and is renovating the heroine’s home.

What are your thoughts on the book?

Part of the middle were slow, but the payoff is worth it. This is, hands down, the best reasoning behind a second chance romance I’ve read. Ever. So even though I was feeling a little meh in the middle, I’m so glad I picked this book up.

I kind of don’t want to recap the backstory because it would ruin the payoff. It’s not that there are spoilers, exactly, because nothing that comes out is a surprise (even if it’s not explicit til the end), but the book talks around things and talks around things and talks around things—so much so that I was getting antsy—and then all of a sudden things are made explicit and everything pops into place and it just all makes sense. 

Let’s just say that when they were young, Marcel and Cynthia had different dreams for their lives. By breaking up when they were young, they were both able to pursue their dreams, and now, having lived full lives, are ready to come back together to shape a new chapter together. Just beautiful. 

Bonus points: abortion rep (in the past, not regretted) and a hero who has had a vasectomy. More vasectomies in romance, please and thank you.

Buy Now: Amazon

Ingrid Read: Love in a Small Town by Zoe York

Pine Harbour, Book #1

Why was this book on your TBR?

I’m a sucker for a series, what can I say?

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

I read very few books involving second chance romance that don’t revolve around a very silly mistake being blown out of proportion, and this looked meaty.

What are your thoughts on the book?

So this one did knock my socks off. It opens with Olivia serving breakfast at the restaurant she waitresses at…to her ex husband and the woman who slept at his house last night. Turns out he didn’t hanky panky with her, but it really set some juicy wheels in motion and I was here for it.

Essentially, Rafe is still in love with his ex, and never really wanted to divorce her. But they were young and didn’t have the relationship skills to make things work, and their marriage imploded. But he’s always wanted her back.  He’s tried being suave, he’s tried being sugary, and kind of settles on waiting her out by eating at her places of employment constantly. Olivia is hurting, too—she married Rafe quickly and moved to his tiny hometown, only for him to become a workaholic and leave her on her own. So when he brings what sure looks like a one night stand into her place of employment for walk of shame breakfast, Olivia decides she’s finished and tells Rafe she’s selling the house and moving away. 

What’s super sexy is that Rafe really reflects on his behavior and takes the time to journal and write Olivia letters addressing their issues. They’re like, REALLY self aware, and it’s very attractive. 

This is one where the author throws in a sort of surprise black moment and it works beautifully. Their reunion was…amazing. Both characters grew into really complex, interesting people (who are obviously meant to be together now that they’re not so young and stupid) and the ending was so satisfying.

Buy Now: Amazon

Want to join us in tackling your TBR? Next month’s theme is Animals.

Dueling Review

Dueling Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare (2013)

This month, our theme week—inspired by SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge—was the Blue Collar archetype. What could be better than a cross-class blacksmith romance?

Spindle Cove, #3.5

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: He gets her all dirty

Character Chemistry: They’ve been pining from afar for a while and are finally ready to admit their feelings

Plot: Let’s try this courtship thang!

Overall: There are a couple of really standout scenes

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: I mean, it opens with her admiring the size of his………………wrists. And it ends with zero doubt some dirty stuff went down. 

Character Chemistry: There’s heavy longing suggested, but things get cooking right away, which is nice for us.

Plot: They want each other, but can they HAVE each other?

Overall: It’s really cute and I can tell this is one that will stick in my memory if not just because there are some very memorable (and unique!) moments.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: It’s a novella, so there’s a lot of desiring from afar but only the one fateful night 

Character Chemistry: There are some undercurrents between Diana and Aaron earlier in the series, so this book involves a good deal of pining followed by taking action

Plot: Diana and Aaron finally decide to stop dancing around each other and see if their feelings can overcome their class divide

Overall: I enjoyed it more the first time I read it years ago, but it’s still well-constructed and charming if you don’t mind some dated ideas

Continue reading “Dueling Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare (2013)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Next of Kin by Hannah Bonam-Young (2022)

Heat Factor: It’s CLOSE to a slow burn but it didn’t feel too slow.

Character Chemistry: Their first meeting had a lot of sparks but not in a good way. Luckily they turned that around pretty fast.

Plot: Chloe’s life takes a massive turn when she takes custody of her newborn sister, who is in pretty rough shape. In order to gain custody, she has to team up with another young foster parent, Warren, who has fought to gain custody of his teen brother. Living together means they have to figure out how to make things work with the added pressure of parenting. Oof.

Overall: Totally smitten with this book in so many ways.

Continue reading “Review: Next of Kin by Hannah Bonam-Young (2022)”

Review: Release by Suzanne Clay (2022)

Heat Factor: Chapter 1: Glory Hole. Chapter 2: Phone sex. Chapter 3: Banging on his desk. 

Character Chemistry: She takes care of him, he takes care of her.

Plot: Danielle uses anonymous sex as a stress release. Except this time, it wasn’t anonymous. It was her boss.

Overall: Very sexy with a nice message, but you must be prepared for a heroine with baggage to work through

Continue reading “Review: Release by Suzanne Clay (2022)”

Review: Stronger Than Hope by Katherine McIntyre (2022)

Chesapeake Days, Book #1

Heat Factor: 👨‍❤️‍💋‍👨🍆🍑🍆🍑🍆🍑👨‍❤️‍💋‍👨

Character Chemistry: OMGGGGG, he’s so hot (and he has a great personality, too)

Plot: Nate, recently dumped and starting over in a small town, almost runs over Linc, single dad widower who’s stifled in the small town, so obviously they’re MFEO but it takes a while to get there

Overall: This was a very chill read

Continue reading “Review: Stronger Than Hope by Katherine McIntyre (2022)”