The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 25. A wealthy character, 37. Set in a rural area, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 46. A job title in the title, 52. Published in 2022

I FINALLY finished one of my Book of the Month picks!!! I ordered two in July, including The Bodyguard and You’re Invited. I couldn’t pick between the two, and I had skipped June, so I figured it was only fair!

Hannah Brooks, a very tiny, unassuming young woman, is a bodyguard. After the loss of her mom, Hannah finds herself desperate to escape her home state of Texas – only to be placed instead on a high-profile assignment right there in Houston: protecting movie-star Jack Stapleton.

Jack Stapleton has come out of hiding to be with his mother while she battles cancer, despite family tensions. When she asks him to move out to the ranch for the next few months, he can’t refuse – but he also can’t take a bodyguard with him…so Hannah is forced to play the fake girlfriend. Reeling from several losses, can she remember that none of it is real?

Not really my best synopsis work, lol.

I wasn’t really expecting this to be some heavy-hitting romance that I typically enjoy, but it sounded cute enough, and I’ve never read Katherine Center before. “Cute” pretty much nails it on the head. This book just kind of reads like a romcom movie; you could probably translate the whole thing to a movie script with a few quick tweaks. I’m not sure if this is the uzhe for her, but it I didn’t really mind it. Normally I might find that pretty annoying, but I think Center has some talent.

While I thought the romance scenes were cute (there I am with that word again), I think our main characters could’ve been a little better. They weren’t flat or bad, I just didn’t like them all that much? Hannah is…lacking in self-confidence. That’s the best way to put it. She lacks so much self-confidence that you actually start to buy into the whole mess. Like, I started to think she must be ugly and a bad kisser. I don’t really like that trait on people, where they’re lacking self-worth to the point of being personally destructive, which is where I think Hannah landed. It’s not charming, it’s cringey. Otherwise, she was fine. She wasn’t *actually* bad, she just liked to regularly remind everyone that she was.

Jack was kind of the opposite, which I’m sure was part of the point. Confident to the point of arrogance, nonchalant and easygoing in every scene. I liked him, but he said some kind of unforgivable stuff to Hannah, in my opinion. He played into her lack of self-confidence in a way that suggests toxicity. Not the best communicator, either. I don’t know, I definitely wasn’t falling for him in the pages – he just wasn’t *that* likeable. They were banking too much on a golden retriever personality.

So that’s kind of where it loses points in my book. I went in with really reasonable expectations, and it was easy-reading, but I just didn’t care for Hannah and Jack. Not liking them, though, is a personal preference, and may not end up being your experience. I recommend this book under the guise that you are aware it will not blow your mind, if that makes sense.

Hope you all have the most fabulous weekend!

Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner

Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Meryl Wilsner just keeps getting better and better. I thoroughly enjoyed Mistakes Were Made, even if it’s downright unrealistic and at times cringey. But with some suspended disbelief, I laughed and smiled and cried right along with them! This is definitely a fun one that picks up even more in the second half.

After a fabulous one night stand with an older woman, college senior Cassie Klein joins her freshman friend Parker for breakfast with her mother, visiting for family weekend…only to discover that Parker’s mom Erin is her one night stand. Fantastic or not, they obviously can’t keep this thing going now that they know their connection. But as time wears on and Erin and Cassie are thrown together again and again, their undeniable attraction to one another becomes hard to ignore.

But there’s still one big, huge, ginormous problem: Parker.

Like I said, suspended disbelief. It’s not even so much that this *could* happen so much as that it continues happening, over and over, throughout the book. That’s also why I say cringe. It’s hard to read some parts when you’re like, O M G Parker is RIGHT! THERE!. But I think that’s also part of the point and the draw…forbidden romance and all that. Honestly those usually freak me out, as this one did.

That said, Cassie and Erin were adorable together. Especially by the second half of the book, when things got really good, I just felt like it was evident in all their interactions that they were a good match for one another. It sweetens the story on a whole other level. Cassie is harder around the edges, but predictable and thoughtful, where Erin is warmer and softer, more effusive. In most of their scenes, even when they weren’t romantic ones, I could see how they complemented each other.

I liked Mistakes Were Made even better than Something to Talk About, probably because we went from a slow burn book, to being thrown into the fire with this one. But still, in some ways, the romance is slow to come. I just think this one gets *to the point* far faster, which is a lot of what was being complained about in reviews of Something to Talk About.

All the supporting characters in this one were also fantastic. Parker, their mutual friend Acacia, all the neighborhood kids, Erin’s best friend Rachel…I loved all of them and thought they were well utilized to provide additional context to Erin and Cassie, when they weren’t forthcoming in their own narrative. It felt a lot like everyone knew Cassie and Erin better than they knew themselves, which isn’t entirely inaccurate when you figure out why.

I definitely enjoyed this one. I think this will be released to much love and fanfare. Highly recommend you grab a copy when this releases on October 11, 2022 – and thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review!

Have a great week!

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 6. Household object on the cover, 12. Set on at least two continents, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Alright, Below Zero is officially my favorite of the STEMinist novellas! I loved Hannah’s story the best, even if I’m still leaning towards Mara being my favorite character overall.

Hannah meets Ian in grad school, when her new friend Mara connects the two for a informational interview about his job at NASA. After several hours bonding over code and Mars, Hannah decides to make a move, and the two share a hot few minutes before she has to break the news to Ian that she “does not date”. The two go their separate ways, until five years later, Hannah finds herself working at NASA as well.

Now, Hannah finds herself stuck at the bottom of a crevasse in Norway with no hope of rescue. The very project she’s testing was vetoed by none other than Ian, and he’s the last person she’d like to see right now, but he’s the only one coming to her rescue…and it might be time to ask herself why that is.

It will never cease to amaze me that Hazelwood can create such round and developed characters in what, essentially, amounts to a short story. In a mere one hundred pages, I know enough about Hannah and Ian to see why they fit together perfectly, and everything that’s keeping them apart. It’s true talent, and every one of the novellas in this series is a great example of that talent.

I like that all three of the novellas started in the present, and rewound to how we got there. It was unique in its storytelling and not even hard to follow, which is what I would’ve expected. In other such works I think it certainly could’ve been, but the back and forth is clear and helps shed light on the characters and the current story. Not to mention, all three of them hooked me from the very beginning by using this technique.

Hannah and Ian were my favorite pairing for a couple in the series, with Mara and Liam a close second. I just love the “desperately pining” trope on Ian, and Hannah’s more detached personality in combination with that – her reluctance to give in to him makes it all the more meaningful when she can’t shake their connection.

This story is definitely the “sexiest” of the three – even with this slow burn – in my opinion. I think Mara’s story is awkward and cute, Sadie’s more cut and dry, but Hannah’s is a hot rush to the finish line. They all have a different tone to match the different characters’ personalities and relationship styles, and all of them are a great match. I loved this one the most for that, personally!

Yeah, so, what did we learn this week? Ali Hazelwood is an icon. Die-hard reader here, friends. Have an awesome weekend. 🙂

Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

On to the second novella in the STEMinist series! I didn’t enjoy Sadie and Erik’s story as much. It lacked some of the charm I typically enjoy, but there are still scenes that made me smile and laugh right along with the characters.

Nearly a month ago, superstitious Sadie walked into the local cafe for her pre-pitch croissant – only to discover the last one had just been sold. After a significant meltdown over her engineering job’s impending doom, Erik hands over the croissant, and sparks a conversation, that sparks a date, that sparks an incredible night together. The following day, Sadie discovers she lost that pitch…to Erik’s company. For an identical pitch to hers at a lower price, after she had explained her ideas over dinner.

Now, Sadie and Erik are stuck in an elevator in a power outage at their shared office building. It seems the time has finally come to talk out what transpired after their incredible first date.

I don’t think the descriptions of Sadie and Erik really match the illustrations on the front, so that was a bit disorienting while I was reading. The kind of guy I was picturing Erik to be is not the kind of guy on this cover art – he looks very sharp-angled on the cover, and I didn’t think of him that way. Same with Sadie; this cover makes her look edgy with borderline RBF, but she’s really a big softie with a lot of structure and rules. So these definitely weren’t the characters I was expecting.

The classic trapped-in-an-elevator trope could have been used more. We go in and out of the present story and the past that informs their current relationship, and their present predicament could’ve been more…fun, I guess? Obviously, she’s mad at him during this time in the elevator, but Hazelwood doesn’t play it up to its full potential. I’m thinking like, The Hating Game elevator scene. Unusual move for Hazelwood to not play into it.

I just wasn’t terribly attached or connected to Erik or Sadie. I actually really liked Mara from Under One Roof, even within the fewer pages of the novella versus a full novel…I felt no such way about these two. I admire Hazelwood’s ability to write different kinds of characters, but clearly I feel most connected to the nerdy, introverted, messy types she’s been writing. Erik, similarly, I found to be cold and annoying with little to redeem himself. I prefer her other male characters: cold and broody, no social skills, but somehow squishy on the inside?

Not my favorite, but I’m not discouraged. Below Zero is up next for me, and it sounds like I’ll enjoy that one more. Hazelwood is still a glowing writing talent, even if this story didn’t speak to me personally. It’s definitely not bad, just didn’t stand out to me!

One more of these novellas for you – coming Friday! Enjoy the week!

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 6. Household object on the cover, 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 25. A wealthy character, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Buckle up for the next three posts friends, because you’re about to get the entirety of Ali Hazelwood’s STEMinist novellas! I’ve been hesitating to read these, but truthfully I’m not even sure why. I’ve loved everything Hazelwood has published, this included. Let’s jump into it!

After Mara’s mentor passes, she is surprised to learn she has been left a home in Washington, D.C. – and even more surprised to find it’s only half a home, the other half owned by her former mentor’s nephew, who immediately tries to buy her out. Unfortunately for Liam, Mara has a job with the EPA and needs to room with him in their new shared space until she has the money to move out and pay an armload of student loans.

Immediately like oil and water, the two employ antics of all kinds to drive the other away. While they can’t stand each other, there is also undeniable physical tension since the very start. As their time as roommates nears its end, will Mara have the courage to move on?

This book, out of the three novellas, seemed most up my alley (no pun intended!). I love the enemies-to-lovers, forced-to-share-a-space tropes that this book falls into. And I was immediately hooked: the prologue had me diving in headfirst to this adorable and sexy novel of an environmental scientist, her big oil lawyer roommate, and all the hilarious antics between them.

Each chapter is packed full of those perfect awkward moments I’ve now come to associate with everything Hazelwood writes. She crafts the scene you always wish for and never get, and she delivers in the most hilarious and sexy ways. Think “there’s not enough seats left, I’ll have to sit in your lap”, or “my shower was broken so I used yours, and you walked in on me naked”. The absolute wildest of stuff, but you’re laughing like a maniac the whole time you’re reading because it’s just too perfect.

This book is no exception to her incredible talent as a romance writer, but I do (of course!) wish it was longer! I’d read this as a full-size novel. Instead, we get the fun-size. With some writers, I might’ve prefered this adorable, bite-sized, action-packed book where every new scene is relevant and important, but in all my experience reading Hazelwood, all her books are like that. Even when they’re 300, 400 pages. So yeah, I would’ve read even more. I would have loved the additional time to fall into the delightfulness of this novella, and every little moment of Liam and Mara.

I genuinely think Hazelwood is one of the best romcom talents out there right now, so don’t let the younger, more immature cover art sway you against reading them. That’s what kept me from reading The Love Hypothesis for so long, and I regretted that choice! These are great books and I’m pumped for even more releases.

Enjoy your weekend, and your brief respite from my next novella review…it’s coming… 😉

Fangirl, Vol. 2: The Manga by Rainbow Rowell & Sam Maggs

Fangirl, Vol. 2: The Manga by Rainbow Rowell & Sam Maggs

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 8. Involving the art world (both writing and manga art style!!)

Other Possible Prompts: 4. Title starting with the letter “F”, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 43. Author who’s published in more than one genre, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Ahhh, Fangirl. The comfort food of books. This story is one of my favorites to absorb around the holidays, in particular, but given this recent release of Volume 2 of the manga version, I’ll read this in the dead of summer. Or pretty much anytime at all!

This second book picks up mid-emergency dance party – a first sweet moment between Cath and Levi. Their flirtation builds in this second book, with Levi requesting that Cath read him her fanfiction, and Cath helping him study for class. Levi is always hanging around her dorm room, it seems, but Cath doesn’t really think it means anything… and Levi belongs to her roommate, Reagan, right?

Even when I read volume one, I felt like the decision to make Fangirl a manga series was an odd one, and this book doesn’t really shake that for me. Of course, I’m still enjoying it, because Cath is every book nerd ever and this story is the warm hug we all need. But, I’m definitely not a manga reader in my everyday life, and I don’t necessarily think the art style translates well with the tone of the story. Manga to me speaks of action and harsh lines, something sharper. Fangirl is a warm, soft hug.

That said, Maggs is a fabulous artist. This is certainly no criticism of their work. It’s impressive art that I do certainly still enjoy from that objective point of view.

This is one of my favorite chunks of the book to read normally, so naturally I really liked this one. It’s really, really short though. I bought the Kindle edition and read it on there, and I couldn’t believe when less than an hour had gone by and I was already done. I thought the other one had taken me a bit longer, and I figured that, given the time between books, there would be a lot more content here than there was. From what I understand, there will be two more volumes.

These are my major thoughts, which I’m sure seem very critical for a four star rating, but truthfully it’s very difficult to mess up Fangirl. It’s just one of my favorites, and I can’t imagine reading it and not getting that warm and cozy feeling from it in any form. It’s a cute story, with great characters, and the perfect ambience. I can’t wait for volume three.

Have an awesome week, friends!

Fumbled by Alexa Martin

Fumbled by Alexa Martin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 13. Includes a club

Other Possible Prompts: 4. Title starting with the letter “F”, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 25. A wealthy character, 36. Recommended by a favorite author, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 50. A person of color as the main character

After all that rigamarole, Fumbled ended up being my June vacation read! I was getting ready to leave and realized I was finally ready to pick up the second book in the Playbook series, which I had bought almost immediately after finishing Intercepted. I can’t recall much of the first book, but I think I may have liked it better than this one.

Ten years after she was rejected by her boyfriend, his family, and her own for keeping her baby at sixteen, Poppy now lives a solid life with her son, Ace, in Denver. She definitely doesn’t think about her ex and the father of her child, NFL player TK Moore, anymore. Until, that is, he walks into the club she works at, and she covers him in the drinks she’s carrying. Just like that, he’s back in her life and leaving her reeling about whether to tell him that she went ahead and had their baby ten years prior. The chemistry is still there, but with all the lies and secrecy between them, can they ever move forward and be the family Poppy really wants?

One thing I picked up pretty early on is their attitudes. I know Poppy is supposed to be pretty fiery and sassy, but I just found her downright rude at times. The same can be said of TK. It’s kind of hard to like people or root for characters you think are being unkind or impatient with each other or others. I don’t remember feeling that way about Intercepted, but it’s been so long I can’t recall…and I don’t have a review to go back to.

While I usually love romances with kids in them by default, Ace is one of the few bright spots in this book! I loved his sass and how Martin really hit the mark on what a nine year old boy acts like. He’s sweet and his familial chemistry with both TK and Poppy is adorable and enhances character development. Additionally, I loved all of TK and Poppy’s friends, particular the girl crew Poppy acquires throughout the book…but Poppy and TK themselves were just not my favorite characters.

I wasn’t sold on their chemistry, and felt that some of their behaviors and communication was toxic. I think it’s become increasingly important to me that my romance demonstrate good, healthy relationships, and I simply cannot recommend them very highly when it just doesn’t click right. For those reasons, I wasn’t all about TK and Poppy, and wasn’t all that invested in their story. Even the steam couldn’t really save this one for me.

And finally, a very niche complaint: Poppy’s reaction every time she was called a stripper. Was she technically a stripper? Nope. Was her indignant reaction every time her club-waitressing was referred to as such very woke? Also no. There are multiple confrontations involving this very scenario and Martin *almost* takes it far enough to let Poppy tell her verbal opponent that there is nothing wrong with being a stripper, but never *quite* that far. Truthfully, if she was aware that there was nothing wrong with being a stripper, these comments about Poppy would not have become such a central part of the storytelling. The scenarios are designed to niggle and create tension – but Poppy should’ve told them to shove it where the sun don’t shine.


I hope you all have a great week, but I don’t think I’m recommending this one. I’m not sure I’ll continue with this series when there’s plenty of other good, steamy romances with more social awareness inside and out!

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 25. A wealthy character, 36. Recommended by a favorite author, 37. Set in a rural area, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

This may also meet prompt 34: an author’s photo on the back cover based on my other copies of her books, but I had the ebook of this and I can’t be certain!

I actually received the ARC of this book after I hit the request button so fast I strained a finger, but once I actually read the description of it, I wasn’t really sold. I like Jimenez’ books a lot, and absolutely adore The Friend Zone most of all, but this one didn’t sound up my alley. And honestly it really wasn’t. Where I would give both of her other books five stars, easily, this only got three and a half out of me.

After getting stranded in a ditch in a random town, ER doctor Alexis is pulled out by handsome stranger Daniel and pulled into the wonderful little town he lives in. Fresh out of an abusive relationship and feeling the pressure of her job and family expectations, Alexis is looking for nothing serious, and can’t believe Daniel wants her in his life at all. But she’s glad for the reprieve in the little town of Wakan, with charming Daniel, a baby goat, and his B&B.

When things begin to look too serious, Alexis has to make a decision: does she continue the family legacy, even when it doesn’t bring her happiness, or does she throw away everything for a guy ten years her junior?

The ten year age gap thing really kept coming up and definitely was not crucial to the story…I think in the beginning, Alexis (who primarily goes by Ali, though I do not understand that jump) is worried about looking less than perfect in front of Daniel, but it’s more related to her past abuse than to being older. This was like a weird, forced part of the storyline that I didn’t care to be reminded of.

I really liked Bri, Ali’s best friend and one of the supporting characters…I’m really glad her story is coming next spring. I can’t wait to read that one because it sounds like she has a good sense of humor, which is what I think was really missing from Ali. She just *wasn’t* genuinely funny. Both her and Daniel had these very dumb inside jokes that just did not charm me. I don’t understand why this is, because Jimenez is clearly very capable of writing humor? All of her other books have had a natural warmth to them that this one just didn’t, in my opinion.

I loved the town of Wakan, and the description of the bed and breakfast. I could see both of those settings very easily in my mind. Ali’s natural surroundings, like her home and the hospital, were much harder to visualize. I’m guessing this is done purposefully; they are cold environments she doesn’t connect to or experience her life through, but it makes the story kind of jarring at times.

While this book does switch perspectives, I find that most of my criticism is with Ali and not Daniel. Daniel was likeable and warm; he fits well into his surroundings and comes off in the story as caring but not obsessed with Ali. I think this narrative is more about her, even if he does have issues of his own. She’s the one coming to terms with all of the change in her life. And the two of them, in turn, have some sparks and connection, but it’s not totally visible to the reader. I’m not watching it unfold but more reading about the after-effects. Daniel provides Ali with warmth and consistency after her abusive relationship, and Ali wakes Daniel up to all the possibilities available to him in life. Other than that, I’m only being informed that they somehow fit perfectly.

This book wasn’t bad, it just didn’t really do it for me. The subject matter, the lack of humor, and the *meh* romance don’t rate it high on my list, but I will definitely continue to read Jimenez’ books. The talent is still there, but I’d pass on this plot for a better one.

A copy of Part of Your World was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was published April 19, 2022.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 18. Jane Austen-inspired

Other Possible Prompts: 15. A five-syllable title, 28. Award-winning book from your country, 34. An author’s photo on the back cover, 36. Recommended by a favorite author, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

This was an unexpected gem to add to my pile! I recently grabbed Count Your Lucky Stars at the library, then realized I was jumping into the middle of a sort-of series. Instead of reading anyways, I borrowed the digital copy of Written in the Stars from Libby on a complete whim. I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it this much!

After a disastrous first date, whimsical and laid-back Elle and strict, type-A Darcy both realize they are not a match – but to get him off her back, Darcy tells her matchmaking brother Brendan that she’s seeing someone: Elle. Much to Elle’s surprise. After she finds out, she agrees to fake date Darcy for two months: to get Brendan to stop trying to bring her speed dating, and to get Elle’s family to realize that her job as an internet-famous astrologist, and her life in the city, is really nothing to scoff at.

As with every fake dating scenario, things get real. The more Darcy and Elle learn about each other, the more comfortable they become with one another, and it seems they may actually be enjoying each other’s company. Beyond their mutually-beneficial fake dating arrangement, are there enough sparks to start something real in the wake of heartbreak?

This book is just surprisingly enjoyable. I shouldn’t be surprised, I knew it won awards and tons of people loved it upon release. The writing is smart and sweet. The cover art kind of threw me for a loop because it’s so juvenile to me…but the book content isn’t juvenile. It’s a mature and ~steamy~ romance. I guess this book could also fall under “don’t judge a book by its cover” because that is certainly what I’ve done, every time I’ve walked past it in a bookstore. I know most romance books these days do tend to look like this, with the illustrated people on the front…but this art style just isn’t my jam, lol.

The sparks between Darcy and Elle are HOT. Their personalities fit together absolutely perfectly, much like their Pride & Prejudice counterparts. And while Written in the Stars does draw some influence from the Austen classic, it’s certainly a story all its own. Truly, the names and maybe a *few* familial relationships are the only good comparison. Elle and Darcy write their own story here, and it’s a great one!

I was a little nervous when I first started the book that the astrology part would take a front row seat, but it’s not really like that. I think if you’re into all that, the horoscopes and house and Mercury in retrograde or whatever it does, some of the jokes or dialogue may be enhanced by your knowledge, but it’s definitely not necessary to have a working knowledge of the stuff to enjoy the read. Heck, Darcy doesn’t even have a working knowledge of it.

The romantic plot and scenes were very endearing and well-written; I was easily able to fall into their story. I liked Darcy and Elle as characters, even through all their faults, and I think that speaks to how well rounded Bellefleur presented our heroines. Preference wise, I preferred Darcy, but only because in some scenes or in her own interior monologue, Elle can come off a bit clueless to her own situation, or needy and whiny. It’s not that I don’t think she has valid reasons to be upset (her contention with her family is a major part of the book, and a big hurdle for Elle to cross in her romantic life as well), it’s that her way of being upset is just a little…annoying. I still feel bad about it though.

Honestly, this is one of the best romances I’ve read in while. I definitely think I’ll be giving book two a try…I believe that’s Hang the Moon, so I’ll need to put that library loan off a *teency* bit longer.

Give this one a try, if you haven’t already! I’m definitely a little late to this party.

Have an awesome week!

My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey

My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings (it’s literally 1998 as I write this…I know it won’t last, but I think it’s fair to count it if I read it before it had that many!)

Other Possible Prompts: 2. Featuring a library or bookstore, 5. Chapters have titles, 22. An unlikely detective, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 49. Book title starts with the same letter as your first name, 52. Published in 2022

UGH IT’S SO GOOD. I knew My Killer Vacation was a must-read for me, being a combination of all my faves: Tessa Bailey, romance, murder, the-grumpy-one-likes-the-sunshine-one…but oh. em. gee. She knocked it out of the park with this one!

After arriving with her brother at Cape Cod for their vacation, Taylor promptly discovers a body. In their rental house. Not the best way to start a vacation – unless you’re Taylor, and want to help solve the murder. When bounty hunter/PI Myles Sumner shows up to investigate the strange circumstances, Taylor inserts herself into the action, and right into Myles’ life. Taylor wants to be braver, and solving this case is a great way to test her limits…just like getting in bed with Myles would be.

Despite his dedication to a no-strings life on the road, Myles can’t help but be swept away by Taylor. Everything she does draws him closer to her, in such unexpected ways. But when it seems that Taylor and her brother have become targets of the killer on the loose, Myles is caught between protecting her – putting him even closer to her magnetic body – or getting back to his life on the road as soon as possible.

I just need to clear the air first here and point out that the main character’s name is Taylor Bassey. Tessa Bailey. Taylor Bassey…not that we’re not all living vicariously through your stories, Tessa, but could we make it a little less obvious? I actually laughed out loud when I read her full name the first time. Girl, I don’t blame you though.

I had 100% intended to read this book on my vacation, a quick plane-ride read, but it evidently didn’t get that far. I couldn’t help myself, bought it, and read it in under 24 hours. I couldn’t put it down. Tessa just manages to suck you in right from the first page, with everything she writes. This would have been an awesome vacation book, though. I’m a little bummed I had no patience!

I loved Myles. Taylor was great too, but Myles was just…ugh. So good. He slides into the gruff and overprotective role really well, whereas Taylor acting “braver” as part of her storyline is a little more jolting and harder to work into. But I liked both of them, and I think that’s super important. Nothing worse than a romance where you don’t like either protagonist. These two fit together seamlessly and pushed each other in all the right ways.

The romance was sweet but ~sizzling~. They did not lie about that. Tessa’s books have that extra oomph in the steam department that other romance out there right now simply does not. And she *consistently* delivers. Even other authors that I enjoy on occasion, other than maybe Lyssa Kay Adams (which, by the way, where you at Lyssa??), cannot so consistently produce romance this good with such good connection and good steamy sizzle. I will always be here, singing Bailey’s praises.

The Cape backdrop was also kind of fun and definitely reminiscent of her recent releases. I love that we’re always on the coast in one way or another, and she builds a fun atmosphere out of them.

The only weird thing to me was the epilogue… and looking back, it’s not so out of touch with the story as it is jarring and kind of funny. A little weird, but funny. You’ll see what I mean; I can’t spoil it for you!

I’m still processing how great this book is, and how sad I am that I’m months away from another Bailey. I just absolutely loved this one and it made my whole week to have it on my kindle at all. Please pick this up!! This honestly might be my favorite one since Fix Her Up, and I loved that one.

Have a great weekend!