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 Threefold Tie by Aster Glenn Gray (2020)

Heat Factor: Scenes as couples are closed door, but they have one interlude at the end

Character Chemistry: I felt all their feelings very intensely

Plot: Three people who have all loved each other for some time are shocked into re-examining their relationship

Overall: What a great feelings book

Continue reading “Review: The Threefold Tie by Aster Glenn Gray (2020)”
Review

Review: Stronger Than Passion by Katherine McIntyre (2022)

Chesapeake Days, Book #2

Review of Chesapeake Days, Book #1

Heat Factor: 🍆🍆🍆

Character Chemistry: Let’s just say that I completely understand the bickering as a love language

Plot: Hudson and Nico hate each other’s guts and own rival restaurants, which makes it really challenging when they have to work together on a food and drinks collab for the hometown summer festival

Overall: If you’re at all interested in a charming small town romance between antagonistically rival restaurateurs who are positively thirsty for each other, look no further

Continue reading “Review: Stronger Than Passion by Katherine McIntyre (2022)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter (2022)

Heat Factor: It starts out really emotionally heavy and gets lighter and steamier as it goes.

Character Chemistry: In the beginning it’s hard to see how much they have in common beyond their mental health issues, but they do end up building a fun, relaxing relationship together.

Plot: Aja has a panic attack in a grocery store right when it’s about to close, and is helped by a stranger—who happens to be her Bingo buddy’s grandson. Both of them have serious mental health issues, and an instantaneous connection that develops into something more (whether they’re ready for it or not).

Overall: It was so heavy in the beginning I had a hard time rooting for anything but more therapy for the two of them—but they did end up creating a really beautiful relationship.

Continue reading “Review: Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter (2022)”
Review

Review: After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez (2022)

Heat Factor: How is Lopez so good at writing sex scenes that are emotionally kinda ugly but still so hot?

Character Chemistry: Boning → antagonism → cooperation → admiration → more boning, this time with feelings

Plot: Alex goes back to her hometown to take over the family bar, only to discover that her grandma is considering selling the bar to someone else. Also, there’s a scavenger hunt for some long-lost paperwork. And a ghost.

Overall: It prompted a lot of thinky thoughts, but the romance didn’t really hit for me.

Continue reading “Review: After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez (2022)”