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: Ingrid Doesn’t Remember Anything

It’s a running joke here at TSR that when Ingrid reads a book, she remembers it for as long as she’s reading it, and then it’s gone from her head. This came up recently when we all decided to put together a list of Old School romances we barely remembered (here and here) and Ingrid didn’t remember anything. So, without further ado, here’s a list of books that Ingrid does remember.

This one’s formatted a little differently than usual because Ingrid actually remembered something first and then went hunting for the book.

Ingrid Remembers: She’s a newly divorced mom living in a beach house and the guy next door has a hammock she can’t keep her kid out of?

The Book: More Than Neighbors by Shannon Stacey

Ingrid Remembers: She’s got a one-handed brother and he’s kind of a real old school “daddy” type?

The Book: The Prize by Julie Garwood

Ingrid Remembers: She’s Helen of Troy and he’s a big deal for some reason, and they run around in ancient times and it’s all very something?

The Book: Wow. It’s Helen of Sparta by Amelia Carosella.

Ingrid Remembers: It’s like a romance but also it’s incredibly creepy, involves ghosts, and has a kind of wainscoting, Victorian house meets beach cottage vibe?

The Book: True Love by Jude Deveraux

Ingrid Remembers: It’s a really buttoned-up, recommend it to your Grandma series but then this one involves a woman who’s doing something that stirs up the townsfolk (but I don’t remember WHAT?? Maybe she’s just a redhead) and he’s trying to be Frank Lloyd Wright in the smallest pioneer town ever?

The Book: Quinn: A Sweet Western Historical Romance by Shanna Hatfield

Ingrid Remembers: One of her parents is like a senator or the mayor or something but the town is tiny so why would that be a big deal? 

The Book: It Had to Be Him by Tamra Baumann

Saturday Smutty Six: “All I remember about this book is… (group edition)” with partial covers for Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small, Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James, Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas, To Catch An Heiress by Julia Quinn, Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught, and The Raider by Jude Deveraux

Saturday Smutty Six: All I Remember Redux: Two for One

In honor of our Old School reading this month, we decided to look at our reading archives and see what turned up. Unfortunately, we read these books so long ago, we don’t remember much. Luckily, this week we found some books that at least two of us read, so you’ll have just a little more information. Maybe we can interest you in these books based on what we do remember?

All I remember about this book is…

Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

Erin: …Oh. My. God. Holly and I read this book twenty years ago and still remember all the highlights. Skye gets married and then ends up in a harem and then somehow gets back to England but then Niall is married and I have no idea how they manage to finally get married but I think Niall’s sex addict wife dies of the pox?

Holly: …there is so much sex in this book. The bit that stands out to me is Neil’s wife (who looks like Skye) (also, this is probably the only book in which I remember the MCs’ names, including books that I read last week) is a nymphomaniac who can’t get enough luvin’ from her husband so she starts working in a brothel and has a book of sex positions. Men come in, pick a position, and she’ll do them. She and another whore have a sex-off one night. She dies of syphilis. It’s very convenient because now Neil is free to finally marry Skye as husband #4. 

Also the scene where Skye’s amnesia goes away is very striking. Husband number #3 and Neil get in a fight at court and when Neil falls down she remembers *everything.* So much drama!!!!

Also also, Skye’s nails are always buffed to a beautiful pink.

Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James

Erin: …they have an interlude at a masquerade party and are parted for years. When they’re reunited, she remembers him, but he doesn’t recognize her, though they do fall in love and marry. When she says that the wedding night sex is better than before, he gets all ragey that she’s 1) not a virgin and 2) apparently had sex with his twin brother (she didn’t). Also the climactic moment is YIIIIIIKES because even though he said he was over the whole her sleeping with his brother thing (she didn’t and he wasn’t), when he gets home from a trip he finds out she’s pregnant, assumes it can’t possibly be his, and sends her off to the country where she nearly dies. It’s a lot. 

Holly: …I REMEMBER THIS ONE. Just that he gets all ragey, and then finally recognizes her when she appears at a ball in her masquerade outfit from the very beginning and he realizes it was her the whole time because of course he’s really been looking for his mystery whore for years.

Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas

Holly: …I was horrified at how *old* the heroine was (she’s 30). She hires a sex worker for a 30th birthday present to herself. (It seems, from the blurb, that there’s some mistaken identity stuff that happens, but I don’t remember that part.) She was curvy and had red hair so I pictured my high school principal and was horrified and did not enjoy the reading experience. Might like it better if I read it now that I’m not 16 anymore.

Erin: …I read this one, too! All I remember about this one was that she hired herself a delicious man treat because she was so old and things did not at all go the way either of them planned.

The Raider by Jude Deveraux

Ingrid: …he’s real hot at nighttime and during the day he’s disgusting and pompous.

Erin: …the hero returns to town and gets himself out of a pickle by pretending to be fat, stuffing his clothes with pillows, and has to keep up the charade whenever he goes out. The heroine thinks he’s ridiculous and disdains him, but he’s secretly a dashing spy attacking the British. Also something happens at a bucolic lighthouse-y spot at the dramatic climax.

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

Holly: …the reading experience stuck out to me more than the actual book. I distinctly remember the chair I was sitting in when I read it (the blue armchair that used to be by the fireplace). My sister got it from her sister-in-law, who was a McNaught superfan. And my reaction was: what even is this utter rapey garbage? The titular Whitney is a doormat and the hero is terrible and leaves her in his country house and then thinks she’s cheating on him but she loves him anyways. 

Erin: …OMG he’s so sexy on the stairs! OMG, she’s so daring standing on the horse! OMG, her dad is terrible. Something about chess. OMG, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS MAN?! OMG, HOW IS SHE GOING TO FORGIVE HIM? I guess the baby scene at the end was kinda sweet?

Holly: Of course she stands up on her horse. That’s like, bodice ripper heroine behavior rule #23.

To Catch an Heiress by Julia Quinn

Ingrid: …I literally only remember that he thinks she’s a spy with a name that reminded me of Carmen Sandiego.

Holly: …so I’ve read the sequel literally 86 times so I know that it’s about Caroline and Blake Ravenscroft and Caroline collects words. There’s some stuff in a tower.

Have you read any of these books? Do you remember them better than we do? Let us know in the comments!

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Back to Old School: Hottie McScottie Week

The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux (1980)

Heat Factor: It slipped in. Consent optional. Do you need consent if you’re married?

Character Chemistry: He is large, grumpy and swarthy, and she is fair, smol and pure. How can they not fall in love?

Plot: One damn thing after the next, caused by miscommunication and stupidity.

Overall: They’re mad at each other, but they don’t know why they’re mad at each other, and they won’t stop doing dumb things to each other.


The Bride by Julie Garwood (1989)

Heat Factor: It’s the sexiest one we’ve read so far in the Old School read-a-thon

Character Chemistry: It’s The Taming of the Shrew, but who’s taming who?

Plot: Jamie’s like, “You told me to handle it! So I handled it.”

Overall: This book is absolutely delightful.

Content Note: These books contain rape, ablism, and racism and we discuss this content in our review. Also, sorry, Ranulf of The Black Lyon is not actually a Hottie McScottie, but he’s got highlander energy.

Continue reading “Back to Old School: Hottie McScottie Week”

Review: Met Her Match by Jude Deveraux (2019)

Summer Hill, Book 2

Heat Factor: For two people who hold off on hanky panky, this sure got scalding hot.

Character Chemistry: I can’t handle how much I wanted them to get together

Plot: Terri ends up unexpectedly shacking up with Nate, a new resident to her sleepy lake resort town and fiance to the town golden girl. Terri’s a strong, capable woman who has shouldered the weight of her mother’s poor reputation as well as the loss of her mother as a young child. There’s mystery. There’s a sexy friendship a-brewing. There’s humor. It’s wonderful.

Overall: Despite an early on aversion, this book was straight-up satisfying.

Continue reading “Review: Met Her Match by Jude Deveraux (2019)”