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… 😉

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 3. Title starting with the letter “E”

Other Possible Prompts: 14. A character with superhuman ability, 34. An author’s photo on the back cover, 37. Set in a rural area, 41. Involves a second chance, 42. An indie read, 43. Author who’s published in more than one genre, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I’m on a streak of some really *meh* books, which SUCKS because I was quite excited for this one! I was hoping for The Hating Game meets Payback’s a Witch, but no such luck.

Nine years ago, Vivienne and her cousin cursed her ex-boyfriend with a Bath & Body Works candle. After a wonderful three months, she broke it off with witch Rhys Penhallow and promptly labeled him a dickbag – but now he’s back, home to charge the ley lines that power the witchery of Vivi’s town, and the curse she didn’t really think worked apparently very, very much did.

Now, the pair have to work together to shut down living toys and ghosts, and other witchy antics haunting the little town as a result of Rhys’ curse, which he passed on through the ley lines. The proximity and the unresolved feelings make Rhys and Vivi’s relationship sizzle with some lightning intensity.

Without a doubt, this relationship was *sizzling*. The romance in this book is steamy and entertaining, if nothing else. Truthfully, I didn’t initially like Rhys and Vivi for each other…and I still didn’t really, by the end of the novel, but it mattered less because they never turned out to be super round or relatable characters so I wasn’t even mad. I felt like their backstories were generic and their reactions to things very neutral/unimaginative. I don’t know how else to describe it, other than I legitimately did not care about either of these characters, but Sterling writes some good romance *scenes*. That’s where all the magic happens.

I really want more from my witch books than The Ex Hex had to offer. I enjoyed Payback’s a Witch so much because it did a great job blending the romance and the witchy world; there was a lot of substance to that story and a lot of magic interspersed. That’s a series that will carry itself on the magic alone. The Ex Hex falls flat in comparison. I didn’t even really get the cozy vibe of a fall novel from this one, though I am reading it in 80 degrees…so that could be my fault. I just expect more from books about witches than Sterling was able to deliver.

I feel like I’m just entirely trashing this book here, but I evidently enjoyed it at least a little bit. And it really wasn’t that bad, it just wasn’t that good. The romance part was really solid, as I mentioned, but the rest of it was not stellar.

I think I will still pick up The Kiss Curse, especially because I really liked Gwyn’s character more than I liked Vivi. I had the potential to like Vivi more; I liked that she didn’t grow up as a witch, that she was coming into her own power in this book…but it was poorly executed. Gwyn had more warmth, character, and personality, so I’m excited to see her story play out on the page. Though I have to say, somewhat disappointed that we went from the f/f lead up created in The Ex Hex to whatever f/m magic is happening in The Kiss Curse.

And in conclusion, I would like to say that Sir Purrcival the cat was my very favorite character. He reminded me of my own kitties. I would be a witch in another life, and Eloise would be my Sir Purrcival.

Have a lovely week, friends!

The Godparent Trap by Rachel Van Dyken

The Godparent Trap by Rachel Van Dyken

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 6. Household object on the cover (pillow, houseplant, picture frames)

Other Possible Prompts: 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 15. A five-syllable title, 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, 52. Published in 2022

Utterly shocked by just how many prompts this one fits. Anyways, like I wrote on Goodreads, I’m giving the story of this one four stars and the writing two stars – so I’ll meet in the middle at three. Objectively, this is not a great book, but if I’m being honest with myself, I also couldn’t put it down? So that’s still worth mentioning.

After a fatal accident leaves their best friend and sister dead, Colby and Rip become the guardians of their godchildren, Ben and Veira. They move into their friends’ house and attempt to keep some semblance of normalcy for the kids – even though Colby and Rip hate each other’s guts.

The pair had a failed date years before that left a bad taste in their mouths, and their lifestyles couldn’t be more opposite one another – Colby is flighty and carefree, where Rip is strict and rigid. The two are like oil and water, but it seems their friends knew more than they did about themselves when they left their children to both Colby and Rip. The two battle their grief and battle parenthood, as best they can, together.

First off, I just need to clear the air and say that Rip is literally the dumbest name I can think of. Rip (*shudders*). Rest in peace. Which honestly makes this story SO MUCH WORSE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT. One time I literally read it that way in my head and I outwardly cringed. Who in the hell came up with “Rip”?

Additionally, this book totally reminds me of Life as We Know It, that Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel movie. I do enjoy that movie, because Katherine Heigl rocks, obviously, but this book feels like *literally the exact same plot* and it would be unfair not to acknowledge that fact when talking about the merits of the story. Did I like it? Sure. Was it original? Yea, nope.

Which leaves me to the writing. Which, also, not stellar. There’s a lot of inconsistencies and a lot of implied time gaps that need to be filled differently. I have to note that I’m reading the advance readers copy, so hopefully some of that will work its way out before final publication, but there’s something about the entire tone and flow of the novel that feels disjointed and amateur-ish. Apparently Van Dyken’s written ninety books, so I’m not sure why I’m getting the amateur vibe…but it’s there. Trust me, it’s there. It feels a bit like some moments you’re on the floor with our characters, participating in the action and watching a scene unfold, and then at some points I am a figure just hovering above it all, not even quite able to hear the characters’ voices clearly enough.

I have to give credit regarding the characters, however. Both Colby and Rip (*shudders again*) are well fleshed out and are both likeable in their own ways. They’re certainly the most round and most understandable, whereas some of the supporting characters make odd choices or don’t feel real. But, I suppose, it’s best that our main characters feel the most relatable to the reader.

I just have to say, especially if you’ve gotten this far down into my review, this is objectively not a good book. Like I can’t recommend this to you on it being good literature. It’s fine entertainment for a few hours, but no, it is not a good book.

I hope all that is helpful! Thanks to NetGalley for the advance readers copy of The Godparent Trap, in exchange for my honest review. This book is set to release July 19, 2022.

Have a most fantastic week! 🙂

Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 52. Published in 2022

Other Possible Prompts: 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I think I liked this one while reading, but when I look back I’m far less impressed. Not to mention, the second half just grated on my nerves. Let’s jump into it!

After her fiance of three years cheats on her with their realtor, Dani finally snaps. She calls off the wedding and swears off guys altogether – but it really feels like her ex, Sam, got off scott-free. So, together with her cousin and her new landlady, she conspires to buy the lot next door to his house and build a girls retreat – a “spite house”.

As an interior designer, Dani takes the lead on the project, but she needs an architect. The grumpy and off-putting Wyatt volunteers himself, much to Dani’s chagrin – as the time they’ve worked together at their company has not left warm and fuzzy feelings – but once they start working together, sparks seem to be flying in spite of Dani’s no-man rule. If only her revenge wasn’t getting in the way…

I was really digging this romance through the first half, with lots of tension and quips with the “hate” start to their romance, but then they totally lost me through the second half. It started strong, but then I really saw Dani get needy, and Wyatt get truly horrible at communicating. Neither are terribly attractive features, and as a functioning adult, I couldn’t fall into a romance where these two clearly had some growing up still to do. It (spoiler alert) destroyed their good chemistry, and made me disinterested in their success as a couple. As a whole, I quite enjoyed the novel, but the romance does not carry it start to finish.

In fact, the drama of the house build carries the second half. I rooted for Dani in all aspects except her needy romantic self. Mia and Iris were my favorites, because their sass and wisdom make them great supporting characters, but Dani is pretty solid, too. Wyatt, however, was a no from me. I always want the grumpy ones to be Mr. Darcy types, but he falls flat. I just don’t want the chiseled asshole archetype anymore. No soft and squishy insides here.

The “spite house” itself is an interesting concept…but the antics became a little much for me. It overtakes so much of the novel, but I can’t tell if it’s *supposed* to make me uncomfortable or not. It did. It was too much. Too try-hard. Just a build a gorgeous house, block his view, and be done with it all – why do we have to make your ex so mad?? I’m the queen of boundaries, the queen of let it go – this was very much the opposite of establishing a boundary and letting it go.

I can’t decide if I want to recommend this or not. I think I do. I would read Anna Collins again, but this definitely doesn’t top my favorites. I’m curious to see how a second novel pans out.

A copy of Love at First Spite was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

That’ll about do it. Big “meh” vibes from me as of late. Enjoy the weekend!

How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 36. Recommended by a favorite author

Other Possible Prompts: 6. Household object on the cover, 25. A wealthy character, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Meh. That’s how I’m feeling about this one.

Grace is an interior designer, finally leaving her life of let-downs behind, pulling herself up by her bootstraps, and beginning the renovation of a lifetime on her very own home. Unfortunately, mega rich guy Noah next door won’t stop asking to buy it…to put in a pool, no less.

Looking to begin renovations on his own home, Noah seeks an opportunity with a design magazine to have his own reno featured and help him grow his name in the real estate business around California. Much to his chagrin, they ask Grace to do the designing, because the two have such an electric chemistry…but once the pair start the project, they realize they work well together in more ways than one.

Reading the synopsis you kind of get the impression this will be an enemies-to-lovers romance, but very little of this story fits that trope. I would definitely classify it as a slow burn, though, and those aren’t typically my jam.

However, I really liked the first half of this book: the slow burn and banter from the beginning of this novel sucks you right in. I was really enjoying it, until they actually got together, oddly enough. Sullivan nails the lead in, but their actual romance flops. Flops hard. It bored me and I became more invested in the reno and the family drama than in their picture-perfect romance.

I think it flopped hard because it lost the humor. To me, there’s just something authentic and funny in enemies-to-lovers stories because they’re constantly nitpicking or cracking jokes, and it makes the relationship more natural and real, even if it is strained. When Noah and Grace flip sides of this relationship, it loses its natural tone and takes on a far more forced one through dialogue and action.

Because of this observation, I can’t help but wonder how Ten Rules For Faking It plays out. That one’s been in my NetGalley ARCs for…a while, let’s say. Long enough that she wrote a second book, so. Reading the description now, it sounds like The Ex Talk but with less humor and more nervous energy. But because there’s no hatred, no banter, I can’t help but wonder if that one also falls flat.

I have to say, though, that reading this makes me want to redecorate my house! Bahahaha. The design details and that fun background story element makes the book enjoyable enough. Grace is a likeable character and Noah’s not all that bad either. They’re just boring.

I also have to commend Sullivan’s recognition of family strains. Both Noah and Grace have strained parent relationships from the start of the book, that come to a head by the end. I half expected to read that everyone made up and got over it – but (SPOILER ALERT) I’m really glad I didn’t. Not only does it teach you that some people will truly be there for you, but it also teaches that sometimes blood won’t be, not in the way you need. Plenty of people in my life have strained family relationships, and I’m constantly letting them know that their worth is not determined by this other person, and the decision to keep them in their life is theirs alone, and they owe no explanations. I like that that was represented in a novel, and particularly one about love, because it shows that you don’t need those who hurt you to be happy or successful – even if they are blood relations. You just need your close inner circle.

Overall, though, I don’t think I would recommend this one or pick up Sullivan again. I’m actually positive I’ll be skipping the first one now, too. This was a drag for me to get through and the payoff didn’t do it for me in the second half…so I think I’m all set with Sullivan’s work.

Have a wonderful week, friends!

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 31. Technology themed

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings (for now, anyways!), 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, 52. Published in 2022

Ali Hazelwood does it again! And by it, I definitely mean writing a book so good I’m willing to lose my valuable sleep schedule just to finish it. I’ve quickly become an adoring fan of Hazelwood’s and I’m feeling BLESSED that I was given this advance readers copy. BLESSED.

Bee, a neuroscientist, is absolutely floored to be accepted as the lead on a NASA project designed to help astronauts absorb more information when in space. For Bee, this is the ticket out of her crappy, post-grad life under a misogynistic boss… but she soon discovers her co-lead is her arch nemesis, engineer Levi Ward, and things become a whole lot more complicated.

In the years since she met him in grad school, it doesn’t appear Levi has gotten any better or grown to hate her any less. But under the circumstances, they create a shaky truce for all that extra time they’re spending together, and Bee soon discovers she may like Levi a little more than she originally thought.

This book has so, so many of my favorite romance tropes: workplace romance. Enemies to lovers. The mean one falls for the sunshine one. UGH. I’m so obsessed with this whole book and also now Ali Hazelwood, not me most definitely following her every career move…

This book is The Hating Game but STEM and on speed. I cannot convey my love for it enough. You know when you read The Hating Game and then you started reading contemporary romance in droves, forever chasing the high of reading Sally Thorne’s stunning debut in a single night? No?? Well if not, please know this has been my life for like, five years (I honestly thought it was three years, but didn’t want to misquote, so I checked my Goodreads history and yeah…five years. Five years chasing the high of Lucy and Josh. Also have you seen the movie?? LOVED it). I finally found its equal in Love on the Brain, and I am a forever fan of Hazelwood’s now.

I LOVED Bee. Much like my Lucy, Bee was just an introverted, intelligent, but wonderfully quirky gal who absolutely made the story for me. I connected with Bee and her struggles, even not being a science person myself. You don’t have to understand neuroscience to connect with Bee’s passion for her work. Also, her research assistant, Rocío, reminds me completely of my best friend. Their friendship felt so similar to my own that I found myself dying laughing at their bits. Every character in this story is so well fleshed out and felt like someone I know in my own life, which made it so much more fun.

I didn’t immediately love Levi, but you grow to understand him and it puts him in a new light. Honestly, from the start, he does come off like kind of an ass. But he’s supposed to, and Hazelwood’s way of shifting his character into a new space in the story totally works, and I come to love him, too.

There’s also this added element and depth from these two Twitter accounts in the story. Bee runs an account called @WhatWouldMarieDo, referring to Marie Curie, where she commiserates with other women in STEM fields on the sucky parts of being a woman in STEM. Together with an another account named @shmacademics, the two use their thousands of followers to start a movement in the academic world. I loved this part of the storyline, and once you read it, I think you’ll quickly get a feel as to why.

The drama and climax of this story kind of took me by surprise by I TOTALLY loved it! You will not expect the outcome, and maybe you won’t even suspect the problem…but it’s just so juicy.

So, yeah, I’m kind of recommending this all around. Like pick this up immediately. Pre-order this puppy. Cannot tell you enough; currently screaming my love for it from the roof. Like I said, I was *blessed* with this advance readers copy from the publisher through NetGalley, and Love on the Brain will release August 23, 2022…but if you have any chance of getting your hands on it before then, highly recommend doing so. 😉

Have an AWESOME week friends!

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I know I said I would read everything and anything written by Tessa Bailey, but I *almost* didn’t read It Happened One Summer. The description of this book sounds like a superficial spin-off of Schitt’s Creek, which I have absolutely no interest in…however, this book was pretty dang good. It has Tessa Bailey’s charm and warmth, and even if it wasn’t something I would normally love, she wrote it, so I couldn’t help myself.

Piper Bellinger is an LA it-girl. Her job includes attending parties and making connections, and she’s paid in likes and follows. After another breakup in a string of bad relationships, she ends up in jail for throwing an epic party…and her stepdad sends her and her sister away to the town they were born to learn the value of money and hard work.

Brendan is Westport born-and-raised fisherman, and he’s never seen anything as ridiculous and over the top as Piper. But as annoying as she might be, she’s starting to get under his skin in a good way, as he notices her warmth and heart. While Piper’s stuck here the next three months, fixing up her late father’s bar, he’s determined to make her want to stay forever.

I thought I would hate this book. If you read the description of It Happened One Summer, it sounds like Piper is a rich and spoiled brat who’s going to be hard to love. However, I don’t think the description does her any justice. She’s warm, kind, hardworking, and much more – but I don’t think her life in LA helped her showcase those skills or practice them. Life in Westport gives her purpose and helps her character develop significantly, to someone I can actually like and enjoy a story with. That’s something I’ve always loved about Bailey’s characters.

Another thing Tessa has always done well is her supporting characters. The town of Westport is full of life and memorable faces, from Brendan’s crew mates to Piper’s father’s old friends, to her own grandmother. Tessa’s built a comforting little setting here that you just can’t wait to come back to!

Brendan and Piper’s romance was cute af. I loved Brendan’s gruff demeanor, and I think every girl dreams of being spoiled and adored just the way Brendan adores Piper. It’s wholesome, sweet, and undistracted: there’s nothing I hate more than a love triangle or something similar, but these two are absolutely devoted to each other.

Tessa Bailey proved once again that she is an absolute master. I dared to doubt her briefly, but I was wrong. I’m a committed reader now!

I literally can’t wait for the next part of this story, Hook, Line, and Sinker. Piper’s sister Hannah and Brendan’s friend Fox are getting their own story, and omg did I love them and all their little parts in this book! I hopped on NetGalley before I even finished this book just to request it. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

Pick this one up for sure! Even if you didn’t think you would like it either. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Have a great week friends!

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This one was a surprise! I actually really loved The Ex Talk, in spite of the premise I wasn’t too crazy about. An enemies-to-lovers has a real draw for me (even if most of their dislike was made up)!

Shay’s whole life revolves around public radio. After losing her dad, who was obsessed with radio and turned their quiet lives into a show, she goes into public radio to tell stories about humans and life. Ten years later, she’s still producing the same afternoon show, Puget Sounds, wishing she was a host. Everything is right with the world: except her special hatred for her coworker, Dominic, whose fresh out of his masters program and thinks he knows everything.

When public radio’s slow death threatens all their jobs, Shay suggests they try a new show: The Ex Talk. Exes come on the air to talk about how their relationship imploded, hosted by exes. Shay and Dominic’s manager leaps on it, suggesting the pair pose as exes and host the show together, despite having never dated…and it’s all downhill, sparks flying from there.

I didn’t think I would like this one, to be truthful. It rode around in my car so long that the emails started coming from the library (yes, the library I work at) pleading with me to bring it back. But finally, I started it, and I honestly couldn’t put it down. I tore through half of it in an evening, and the rest it of it every moment I could over the next few days. I loved Solomon’s writing and sweet representation of her characters. It was a breath of fresh air.

I felt that Shay was really well developed as a character: her experiences with her dad dying, her relationship with her mom, her changing friendship, and her struggle to truly “grow up” were both relatable and very well written. I feel like Shay’s the kind of gal I’d be friends with in real life. She overworks, she thinks pets will fix her problems, and she has a strong dislike for people who waive their master’s degrees around. Dominic, on the other hand, was not as developed, but I think that derives from only having Shay’s perspective. We’re in her head, while Dominic we only get from her interpretation of him. Honestly, though, they’re the most complete people I’ve read in a romance in a while, and I liked that there was more at play here than their love story. Family drama and reckoning with their loneliness as a result of their jobs and lifestyle was a great cultural tie in that I think we all need to read sometimes.

The one thing about this book I wasn’t *really* digging was all the radio talk. Felt like a lot. I’m not a podcast person, and podcasts play a pretty big role in this book. I actually feel like I missed some character development I would’ve picked up on if I knew more about the subject matter. It was still unique, cute, and definitely latches onto a trend of the moment though, and I didn’t mind it!

All in all, a great read I would recommend. The romance is just too cute, and the storyline too fun. A copy of The Ex Talk was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (For clarification, I received the ARC but ended up reading my library’s paperback copy). Check it out!!

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eve Brown may not be my favorite Brown sister, but Talia Hibbert’s wit and sweet-as-pie characters are still irresistible. This earned a solid four stars from me.

Eve is tired of being the perpetual disaster – after another failed attempt at entrepreneurship, her parents tell her it’s time to settle down and pick a career. But this feels like the ultimate affront to Eve, who has never truly loved any of the career paths or educational opportunities she’s taken. Upset, she takes to the road, drives and drives, until she pulls over in a quaint little town and sits right down for an interview as a chef at a bed and breakfast.

Jacob, the bed and breakfast’s owner, is unimpressed. Eve is sporadic and doesn’t take things seriously. Then, of course, she hits him with his car…so there’s that.

Despite his distaste for her, she does cook well, and he needs her to cook for a food festival coming up to draw more patrons to his B&B. Hopefully, she can make it before she flakes.

Talia Hibbert’s voice when she writes feels like a friend talking to me. The flowery language of Get a Life, Chloe Brown is what I fell in love with in the first place. To be truthful, Dani has been the sister I relate to the most, but I’ve loved all their stories for their unique voices. I just don’t feel like other romance writers are consistently writing with this adorable wit and humor.

As far as the story goes, again, it’s one of my favorite tropes: enemies to lovers, there’s a bed and breakfast involved, AND there’s baking?? I’ll take ten. And Talia does a great job with it, and a great job with character development centered around this scenery. I can see increased confidence in them, see increased self awareness, that makes the characters feel warmer to me.

I also love to see characters with autism represented in this light. I love characters typically misrepresented to be shown as human to begin with, obviously, but Talia has been so good at this throughout her series: fibromyalgia, anxiety, and now autism. Her characters are real and human, and they’re treated as such. None of these things become the focus of the person or their story, but just one of many things that makes them unique and who they are: just like it should be. Not a dominating character trait or a fault to the romance, but one of many pieces of the characters we know and love.

Overall, a solid four out of five stars from me. I’m hooked on Talia’s writing, and now that the series is over, I can’t wait to see what she does next. New to the Brown sisters? You can check out my review of books one and two here. Highly recommended, *chef’s kiss* series.

A copy of Act Your Age, Eve Brown was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Unfortunately, Hogle’s second novel did not live up to the first! I laughed out loud, cried real tears, and devoured You Deserve Each Other in a single night (see my review here – it was actually my first on this very blog!). I’m starting to suspect every romance author’s first book bleeds authentic feelings because it’s based somewhere in truth. That novel is probably one of the best I’ve read in the genre because it was hilarious, but also terribly real.

Maybell Parish hates her job, and daydreams her way out of it hour by hour. She dreams of a man that doesn’t exist, a cafe in the sky that plays Fleetwood Mac, and the perfect escape to a manor of her childhood. Then, she inherits that very manor.

Unfortunately, she’s not the only one. The groundskeeper, Wesley, has also inherited the manor, and has very different ideas about what the old run down home should become. It’s an endless battle for both as they make some Frankenstein version of bed and breakfast/farm, while the sparks are flying and the anger brews.

Twice Shy doesn’t hit home quite the same way Hogle’s first work did. I loved the premise: it’s one of my favorite tropes, and the little details were very well done. I still cried, don’t get me wrong. But I just don’t think the arc of this romance made for as good of storytelling as the traditional arc…let me explain.

One of my biggest issues with this book was the lack of the falling apart. Every romance reader knows, when the pages in the right hand start to dwindle, when your kindle says somewhere around 83%, when things start to feel too good…it’s going to hit the fan. It’s about to go down. Hogle…skipped this part? I got to my 83%, 87%, 93%… and I was still waiting. Not to be accused of dishing spoilers, but problems are minor, and the response even less underwhelming. The part of the book that usually brings me gut-wrenching anxiety was missing, and I was surprised to find myself craving it anyways. This story just didn’t sit as well with me without the challenge.

I will, of course, still pick up Hogle’s books in the future! I think she’s got a lot of wit and creativity, and I want to see more like You Deserve Each Other. This was still a cute, quick, light read full of dreamy scenes and imagination. It’s the perfect escape. It just didn’t live up to the full potential I hoped it would have.

A copy of Twice Shy was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.