Review

Review: Did Not Finish by Nicola Marsh (2022)

Heat Factor: fades to gray 

Character Chemistry: Not sure we get enough push-pull when he hates her (but really not) and they hop into bed by 35%

Plot: Mia is a professional reviewer and aspiring writer who wins a spot at Axel’s writing workshop. Axel is furious with Mia for writing a mean review about his alter ego’s book because he needs the extra income stream. They get snowed in.

Overall: Their fight seemed a bit ridiculous when they were so ethically messy from, like, page one

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Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom (2018)

Once Upon a Time in Texas, Book #1

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: I found the sexting shockingly effective

Character Chemistry: Maggie is in lust with the Big Bad Wolf, and moving from animosity to friendship to love with Travis. Except they’re the same man—and she doesn’t know it.

Plot: Maggie and Travis have mindblowing, slightly kinky sex as anonymous strangers at a costume party. And then Travis discovers that they’re neighbors slash she thinks he’s destroying her business. Too bad the sexting is so fun.

Overall: There were a few rough patches at the beginning, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: I’d definitely say it borders on a slow burn IF you don’t take the sexting into consideration.

Character Chemistry: There are a lot of relationships going on and they all had pretty good chemistry. Maggie and Travis seemed to sync really well.

Plot: Maggie and Travis hook up in disguise at a costume party—Travis knows Maggie’s identity, but Maggie is in the dark. When they end up at odds as neighbors and work competitors, they end up finding a deeper connection.

Overall: It was a cute cowboy-to-be book that felt realistically small-town.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: It starts early and doesn’t really slow down if you count all the sexting, but I wanted the story to get on with it because all the character interactions were more fun

Character Chemistry: I was more invested in the all the dynamics of the small town characters than in the romantic relationship between Maggie and Travis

Plot: business competitors, antagonistic anonymous neighbors, anonymous hookup, forced to work the same contract, sexting deception, custody battles, and liens

Overall: If we hadn’t agreed to buddy read it, I probably would have DNFed by 25% simply for all the gender essentialism, BUT I think it was maybe Trying To Do Something, and, as Holly said, it turned out pretty cute in the end.

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Recommended Read, Series Review

Series Review: Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu (2018-2020)

Heat Factor: Kisses! 

Character Chemistry: It’s not like they’re without their problems, but this is a really lovely relationship

Plot: Bitty goes to college and learns how to be himself. And he falls in love with the NHL-bound hockey captain. 

Overall: I read everything within 24 hours. Absolutely delightful.

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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

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Recommended Read, Review

Review: For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa (2022)

Heat Factor: It’s a nice amount of heat…think spice in chocolate.

Character Chemistry: Dead serious, this is the BEST enemies to lovers set up I’ve read in a long time. Meticulously done.

Plot: Nina and Leo are co stars on a culinary reality show–when Nina reaches her breaking point in dealing with Leos’ crap and quits. In order to save their respective restaurants after the messy episode airs, Nina and Leo decide to embark on a fake relationship to stir up good press. Only, it gets REAL. Real juicy.

Overall: The second I saw the tiniest hint that these enemies were actually going to fall for each other, my jaw dropped. It was just deliciously done–and honestly, extra points for the bold and punny title.

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