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.

Anyways!

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!

The 5 Love Languages Military Edition by Gary Chapman & Jocelyn Green

The 5 Love Languages Military Edition by Gary Chapman & Jocelyn Green

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 24. Addresses a specific topic

Other Possible Prompts: 4. Title starting with the letter “F”, 5. Chapters have titles, 7. A non-fiction bestseller, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name

A family friend gave this book to Nate and I several months ago; they said if we were going to get married, we should definitely read this book. Apparently gifting this book to other couples is part of the sort of cult following around it, but we appreciated it nonetheless! I read it first and I’ll be handing it off to Nate next.

Just a military spin on the classic five love languages (words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch), this book walks you through each of the five love languages, what understanding them means in your relationship, and how to discover you and your partner’s love languages. Being military focused, this edition focuses primarily on military couples, and includes examples of how to speak your partner’s love language during deployments or the special circumstances of a military marriage.

Nate and I are not even married yet let alone experiencing some of the problems expressed in this book, but I almost think that puts us in a better position to read it! Knowing this information before you get into a tough spot where you are hurting is really valuable. Your relationship could always be better for understanding these principles. And besides, when we tell people how long we’ve been together (usually following the “why aren’t you married yet?” question), they typically inform us we’re basically married anyways.

Military relationships move at a different speed, on a different wavelength, but we’ve been fortunate enough to have that sense of relative normalcy for much of our time together. Because of that, some of the stories didn’t really relate to us yet, particularly regarding deployments. We just haven’t had that experience yet, though I think this book will be good preparation!

The concept of love languages is something I’ve only had a relative understanding of prior to reading this book: I knew about the love languages, but I don’t think I understood anything about how you’re supposed to use them in your daily married life until I read this. While I can’t speak to its effectiveness personally yet, I do plan to try some of the tips in this book, and I think this book is a very well laid out guide for getting started incorporating this into your relationship.

My one complaint as a reader would be the “preachiness” aspect of some parts of the book; the organization is very clear, but there are times when the book feels like it’s patting its author on the back, or trying to sell you on the idea instead of providing straight facts or accounts. They’re pretty easy to look past, though, to its credit.

I did really like this book, and I think it changed my perspective on love and relationships, and even the way I see my own needs. My own love language is acts of service. I often feel like a nag asking for help constantly with things around the house, or things I really need done. Truthfully, I derive my energy from a clean and organized environment, so those pieces of my life are absolutely crucial to my individual success. Not only does it feel like being respected when he helps me do these things, it helps me feel loved and more able to give love in return. I always just thought I was crazy. To see this as a love language, instead of annoying personality quirk of mine, is actually kind of nice. I think it will be really helpful in reframing my requests for “love”, too.

Further, it changed my opinions on relationships, because it does truly take work in a marriage. I’ve always loved that what Nate and I have feels effortless, but I think that comes partly from the fact that my secondary love language is quality time, which I believe is his primary love language (he still needs to read the book and fill out hins profile, but I’m pretty confident!). So, we both give and receive love in a similar language and even a similar dialect. But there will come a time in our lives, especially with the military as a third party to it, where that may not come naturally. It’s just a great thing to be cognisant of.

Alright, enough harping on about my relationship. I did think this book was a valuable read, and I’ll be happy to pass it on to another couple when the time comes!

Have a great week friends.

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!

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! 🙂