Recommended Read, Review

Review: Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale (2010)

Heat Factor: The time they have sex when they’re seventeen is a little too real

Character Chemistry: It’s obvious to everyone but her that he’s head over heels

Plot: First love reunited

Overall: This book is ridiculous

Continue reading “Review: Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale (2010)”
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.

Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Fixer Upper by Lauren Forsythe (2022)

Heat Factor: There’s no whoopie and there’s actually very little overt sexual tension but somehow I am still TOTALLY invested in this book.

Character Chemistry: They’re meant to be, and it’s adorable. Think “13 Going on 30” meets “Failure to Launch” with a hint of “Bridget Jones’ Diary”

Plot: Dylan and Alyssa were BEST friends growing up, until Alyssa confesses her love for Dylan and ghosts him overnight in embarrassment. When she and her two friends create a side business for nudging reluctant partners in the “right” direction for their clients, Dylan ends up being the job…only Alyssa doesn’t think he needs any fixing. At all.

Overall: This one might be a tiny bit smut adjacent, but it’s AMAZING and I’m completely obsessed with it.

Continue reading “Review: The Fixer Upper by Lauren Forsythe (2022)”
Dueling Review, Rant

Dueling Review: I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (2022)

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: The first kiss happened around halfway, and then I called it quits.

Character Chemistry: Textbook definition of a toxic relationship.

Plot: Hudson bribes Kian into doing a fake relationship with him by promising an introduction to a guy who can get Kian his dream job.

Overall: DNF at the halfway point.

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: I mean, it was nice and steamy. 

Character Chemistry: I could see the chemistry but there were so many aspects that didn’t seem to get worked out, that I didn’t necessarily buy in all the way.

Plot: Kian agrees to pretend to be Hudson’s boyfriend again despite his better judgment so that Hudson can get Kian a job that is supposed to launch his journalism career.

Overall: I ended up with very mixed feelings about this one.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: They have very playful sex.

Character Chemistry: Horny, not healthy.

Plot: Hudson inexplicably dumped Kian three months ago, but now he’s back asking Kian to fake being his boyfriend again because he never got around to telling his parents they broke up.

Overall: This should have been a 300 page grovel and IT WAS NOT.

Continue reading “Dueling Review: I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (2022)”
Dueling Review, Rant

Dueling Review: Love’s Serenade by Sheryl Lister (2018)

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance, Book #3

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: Some cursory details.

Character Chemistry: They seem to have a chemical attraction that supersedes all of Miles’ bad behavior.

Plot: Miles woos Leigh, plus they write a song together.

Overall: The music details were fun, but that’s the only nice thing I can say.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: Nothing too involved – it’s kinda lavender

Character Chemistry: Ugh

Plot: Miles abandons Leigh then changes his mind 3 years later and that’s just supposed to be fine

Overall: DNF at 45%

Continue reading “Dueling Review: Love’s Serenade by Sheryl Lister (2018)”