Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Getaway

February’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2023 was “Getaway.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.

Erin Read: Sand to the Beach by Shae Sanders

Why was this book on your TBR? 

I think I saw a release promo from the author on Insta? And it looked like fun. 

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

Going to the beach is a getaway, right? Though, as it happens, the parents are the ones on a getaway and the MCs are grudgingly along for the ride. 

What are your thoughts on the book?

As I was trying to decide what to read for this month, I worked off my TBR on Goodreads (it’s the most comprehensive), so I ended up reading a few reviews as I looked at blurbs. This is to say: a lot of readers think that Jenarra is an unlikeable heroine. She is…but I actually didn’t think she was so much unlikeable as she was emotionally closed off with extra spiky walls. Which, okay, might read to some as unlikeable, but to me I’d reserve that label for someone who is a jerk or hardass with seemingly no reason, and I didn’t think Jenarra quite fit that bill. All of her behavior is rooted in deep-seated trust issues that have a clear source (even if we don’t know details) pretty much from the word go. 

Anyway, Jenarra, with her deep-seated trust issues, invites herself along on her mother’s romantic getaway when she learns that her mother’s new lover is a man she met online. Something bad happened in the past, and Jenarra is going to be a guard-dragon for her mother because she doesn’t trust…anybody. Her mother’s lover does not appreciate Jenarra being a wet blanket, so he wheedles his son Maceo into coming to run interference for the week. At first Maceo is like, “Why on earth am I putting up with this BS?” But after a day or so both his curiosity about her and his physical attraction to her win out. 

This book is not long, so there’s not a ton of space to create a lot of depth in the narrative, but also there aren’t dangling storylines that warrant a significantly longer story. I enjoyed the read, and the only reason I’m not over the moon about it is probably because it’s really, really, sexy, and instead of keeping me engaged in the middle I got bored with all the sex. That’s a me thing; other readers who like a really sexy book—especially with an “unlikeable heroine”—would probably like this one, especially with that twist coming out of right field at the end.

Buy Now: Amazon

Holly Read: Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Why was this book on your TBR? 

Ever since we read Bet Me together, I’ve been working my way through Crusie’s backlist, and multiple people have told me that Welcome to Temptation is the best one.

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

It’s about Sophie arriving in the town of Temptation. That seemed appropriate for a getaway. (And it turns out, many of the characters are trying to escape from one thing or another.)

What are your thoughts on the book?

This book is fucking awesome. 

It’s got messy characters going through messy emotions and it’s hilarious but not slapstick. It’s got the weirdest sex scene I’ve ever read—and we once spent a whole month reading books with literal monster dongs. It’s got a cute kid and a cute dog, but not too much of either. It’s got small town politics and porn. It’s got murder, both successful and attempted. It’s got really ugly wallpaper and an even uglier shower curtain.

I will say that, so far in my reading of Crusie’s books, her heroes all kind of suck (at least initially), and Phin is no exception…but he learns. And the scenes where Sophie tells him off are just pitch perfect.

I was smiling so hard when I finished it.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

Ingrid Read: The Raider by Jude Deveraux

Montgomery/Taggert, Book #4

Why was this book on your TBR?

It’s one of the few old timers I remembered—and once I thought about it, I wanted to see how it held up after a few decades.

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

Well, The Raider in this one spends the entire book in one getaway caper after the next. Plus, after he starts up with the dangerous escapades the rest of the townspeople get involved and then EVERYONE is making speedy getaways.

What are your thoughts on the book?

Well, first and foremost this book could simply not have been published now. The entire premise rests on how the MMC is “The Raider” in the darkness of night and stuffs his clothes and pants so he looks like an overweight fop during the daytime. A lot of the humor is based on the MMC’s presumed weight and it clearly links his masculinity to his figure. I think it goes without saying that fat bodies are not a result of a lack of character, nor are people who are fat in any way less feminine/masculine as a result? But since this is a book (not a person) and can’t have its mind changed, I just read it as it was.

However, I will say that the premise and execution were still as original as I remembered. The relationship that builds is twofold—with The Raider, Jessica’s passions are inflamed and her fearlessness and determination are given space to grow. With Alexander Montgomery, Jessicas’s rash choices and temper are balanced and soothed. Plus, the capers and shenanigans are hilarious and pretty darn satisfying.

I think it’s funny that I’m pretty sure I haven’t read any of the other books in this series. I don’t really feel like it’s necessary, but maybe I’m wrong and one of the other Montgomery books is even better! I just got a huge stack of old romances from the used book store, so perhaps I’ll keep an eye out…

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

Want to join us in tackling your TBR? March’s theme is “Baggage.”


Saturday Smutty Six: Lies

SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge prompt this month is Lies (about which more on Wednesday), and a big lie is just such a great point of tension that we thought we’d highlight some more romances that hinge on a humdinger of a lie. Or maybe just a little lie that grows and grows until it’s a big problem. Either way, a lie between the protagonists is a great reason they can’t truly be together, so without further ado, here are some liars.

How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn

Holly is on record stating that this is the first romance novel she ever loved. Yes, there is some cringey Old School nonsense going on, but the banter is just delightful. This is a classic deception plot, complete with the heroine melting down because the revealed lie means that *everything* about their relationship was a lie. (Of course it wasn’t, but that’s the trope, right there.)

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran

“I lied and said we were married even though you’re blackmailing me because I thought you were about to die, but then you woke up and now you have amnesia but we’re still married and I’m terrified but also starting to have pants feels.”

Hexbreaker by J.L. Hawk

Tragedy forced Tom to leave his old life and start fresh, but a murder on his beat puts him perilously close to his past. He can’t do nothing if it’ll save lives, though, so he does the best he can, transferring to the witch police HQ, and hoping that he won’t have to reveal his sordid history to the prickly but lovable Cicero as they work to solve the mystery.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Not all lies are enormous, earth-shattering, identity-threatening dealbreakers. In Bet Me, Cal initially asks Min out because of a bet (that he thinks is a joke); Min knows about the bet, and agrees to go out of spite. But because Cal doesn’t know that Min knows, the bet takes on a life of its own as it looms over their slowly deepening relationship.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

“I think you’re wonderful and brilliant and so competent, and I shouldn’t date you, but I just can’t resist you, so it’s gonna be awkward when you find out that the only reason we’re working together is because I’m an undercover agent trying to figure out who in the office is breaking the law. (I’m pretty sure it’s not you…)”

Earl on the Run by Jane Ashford

This is a classic, low-stakes meet-cute deception. Harriet’s Grandfather has swooped in and made Harriet an heiress with a dowry. Jack is a Bostonian with traveler roots, so when he inherits the estate next to Harriet and is rudely snubbed by his grandmother, he joins a group of travelers and ends up sneaking around incognito. Harriet deceives Jack by cornering him into marriage, and Jack deceives Harriet by not telling her he’s the traveler she’s become enamored with.

Want more lies? Here are all our reviews of romances featuring lies and the lying liars who tell them.

Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (2004)

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: He eats donuts off her boobs

Character Chemistry: It’s fate

Plot: A comedy of errors ensues when Min and Cal (attempt to) resist the universe’s plan for them to be together

Overall: Couldn’t put it down

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: Kissing while eating donuts has never been so steamy

Character Chemistry: It’s instantaneous and angry, then alllll the sexy tension

Plot: Min’s ex tries to get Cal to bet over her—but the more they try to avoid each other, the more they end up attached at the hip

Overall: I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this book

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: It’s a very slow burn, but she does get tied to a couch

Character Chemistry: This is a push-you-pull-me that works marvelously

Plot: Min is about to approach Cal when she overhears that she’s the subject of one of his bets, so she accepts his invitation out of spite, and fate takes the wheel

Overall: I didn’t like all the stuff that happened in this book (and I wasn’t supposed to, either), but I really liked the book

Continue reading “Dueling Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (2004)”