GOOD GUY by Kate Meader – double review!

He’s a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She’s a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She’s also his best friend’s widow…

Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the Special Forces veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke.

The woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service.

Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart…


Title : Good Guy
Author : Kate Meader
Series : Rookie Rebels #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 322
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3 star review

I’ve really enjoyed all of Kate Meader’s Chicago Rebels series and this is a new series in the same team, so I’m not sure why this is a different series name, but I was down with more from this context. If you too have enjoyed the Chicago Rebels, you will enjoy the familiarity of the management, characters and team.

GOOD GUY was about the oldest rookie in hockey. Levi was out of the special forces (Green Berets) and back to hockey which was his plan before he enlisted out of college. Now in his early 30s, everyone had their eye on him, especially Jordan, a reporter tasked with getting the inside scoop. Jordan and Levi’s previous connection was a barrier and facilitator.

These two were like chalk and cheese, grumps and bubbles. It was definitely interested and there was tangible chemistry which I enjoyed. These two had banter and there was honesty.

“I can’t really help that I have resting scowl face, Jordan. I’m not the most expressive guy.”

In actual fact, I thought he put his heart out there, but I found Jordan hard at times. Jordan had her reasons and there was a whole misogynistic storyline that took on a life of its own towards the end. Points scored for that element of the story.

All that said, this start to the series didn’t wow me. I think I struggled with Jordan as a character and Levi was truly a good guy and perhaps they weren’t the fit I envisaged together. I found the hump in the road a bit predictable as was the solving of the problem.

I know I’m not done with this team and I have an inkling of who might be the next Rookie Rebel. I think Elle might be in a future storyline too as there’s lots of mystery there. This was an enjoyable read, even if I wanted a bit more.

Thanks to the author and netgalley for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 2 star review

So maybe I read this too soon after wrapping the original series, maybe I should’ve given that space.. and maybe I should round up my review of HOOKED ON YOU. Because GOOD GUY? Wasn’t great for me.

I think this story’s biggest downfall is it’s just trying to unpack a lot of things. Grief, death of a spouse, a rough upbringing, a desire to give back, sexism in the workplace, misogyny in general, internet culture, conflict of interest relationship, a sorta-but-not-really second chance romance if we consider ‘almost’ a second chance.. all that and cameos, and repercussions, from as far back as book one in the Chicago Rebels series, plus all the life updates for the couples from the original books. Phew. That was a lot to just sum up, never mind read about, whilst still enjoying the Cinderella story of this team of hockey misfits and a slowburn romance we’re somehow supposed to believe in.

I didn’t love Levi but he’s an all-around paragon of virtue and low self-worth so you can’t hate him. I didn’t love Jordan even though she’s a tough, hard working, woman in a male-dominated industry, who is focusing on a career previously set aside by marrying young and supporting her now dead husband — though, to expand, I didn’t love the reporter dynamic because even though we’re told she’s not got a malicious bone in her body.. she did some shady things, sat on a lot of information, and used not-quite-above-board tactics to get what she wanted..  all of which are couched in nicey-nice and conflicted feelings but.. nonetheless.. yeah, this dynamic was the extra bit that didn’t work for me — and to poop on her feels like pooping on women as a whole. I didn’t feel much chemistry, didn’t love the romance, the only bit I liked about them together was some of the brutal, forthcoming, honesty that defined most of their interactions.

What saved this book from being a total wash is the ever fun cast of side characters and hockey personalities that sprinkle the pages and the background. I’m not sure how I feel about what I assume is to be the next couple but I guess we’ll see.

This low rating, and disappointment, aside I would still recommend this author and these hockey books (and I might even investigate her firefighter ones as this is the second book she’s had cameos, and dropped some not-so-subtle backstory, about couples and people from those other works). They are fun and sexy and relevant and often quite funny. This is definitely the biggest outlier for this reader. So, take this review with a grain of extra salty salt — as always.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen

A future chieftain
Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince
When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard
Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?


Title : The Merciful Crow
Author : Margaret Owen
Series : The Merciful Crow (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m super glad I’ve just bemoaned all the disappointing YA fantasy so far this year because the universe sat up, said, ‘oh yeah?’, and tugged the rug right out from under me.

Bookies, I present to you : THE MERCIFUL CROW. I knew nothing about this before beginning (#TeamNoBlurbs) and was delighted at every turn the story took.

This world is made up of Castes centered around various birds : Crows at the bottom, Pheonixes at the top. We see the world through the Crows’ eyes; they are mercy killers, resistant to the plague that sweeps the nation, able to draw power from teeth (it sounds weird but it’s so cool), and overwhelmingly reviled by everyone else. They are spit upon, treated abominably, and yet every dying soul calls to them for mercy. They keep the realm safe because without them plague would run rampant, everyone would die. And yet..

Fie and her father’s band of Crows are called to the kingdom to dispose of two bodies. This is a rare event because royals, for whatever reason, haven’t been struck down by the plague in centuries. And when they are moments away from burning the corpses.. it turns out they are far less dead than everyone thought. And that one of them is the prince.

THE MERCIFUL CROW then goes on to weave a breakneck tale of disaster, betrayal, acceptance, more disasters, more betrayals, and on and on. This world was so rich and fascinating and holy forking hell was it diverse and delicious. Skin colour, sexuality, talk of periods.. Owens tackled them all without ever feeling like she was checking off a box for including one element of another. I loved that so so much. It felt effortless. Infact her writing in general was smooth and fierce and fraught with emotion. Just like her characters. 

My one complaint is that, and it might be my fault for missing it though I’m not sure I did, I’m not entirely clear why there is a plague in this world. It was never explained. But I thought every other bit was. Jasimir, the prince, was mostly a naive, spoiled, shit — as one expects — but through him we get a closer look at the prejudice and discrimination and ignorance of this world and the thoughtlessness (which is the kindest form of treatment they ever receive) towards the Crows. How the whole world is built on hating these people.. and yet relying on them. How no one has thought to question why or wonder about them. Or treat them as something more than trash. It was insidious, underlying every interaction or belief, and the author did a fabulous job at making this treatment abhorrent without ever making the story depressing. Just tense and brutal.

As for Fie, our lead and sole POV, she was.. wow. Brave and angry, fierce and uncompromising, full of doubt as she remained strong. She burned herself out, sacrificing not only for her people but for two individuals who hadn’t known her name, hadn’t cared about her Caste until they needed her; time and time again she pushed herself. For a promise, for the hope of a better future, even if it meant she wouldn’t see it herself. 

We also had a love interest and I won’t say I saw it coming but.. I did. And that was okay because I was totally onboard, totally shipping it, and the fact that we had some excellent exchanges around consent as well as discussion around sex itself..? Hello hi here for more of this in YA please.

When it comes to the ending, I’m also a huge fan of it. This is apparently a series (duology? trilogy? don’t know) and yet the ending was perfect. I am so satisfied and yet curious and excited and maybe a bit worried. Nothing has really resolved and yet it doesn’t really feel like anything is left hanging, either. It’s a great balance. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be clamouring for book two.

I’m totally shocked this is the author’s debut and highly anticipate this’ll be something of a surprise hit for many readers. You definitely need to keep this one on your radar. I totally recommend.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JULY 30, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!
As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


DARK AGE by Pierce Brown. Does this book need any further introduction? The fans have been waiting and it’s finally here!

THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen is one of the few YA fantasy releases that lived up to the hype. Owen weaves a breakneck tale of disaster, betrayal, acceptance, more disasters, more betrayals, and on and on. This world was so rich and fascinating and holy forking hell was it diverse and delicious. Look for Hollis’ review on the blog tomorrow!

HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK by Kristin Rockaway is a fun story featuring all the pitfalls of app-dating, online culture, and toxic workplace culture, particularly as a woman in tech. Hollis’ review will be posted today!

BRAZEN AND THE BEAST by Sarah MacLean is book two in her Bareknuckle Bastards series. I absolutely loved the first book and I cannot wait to get my hands on this one. I’m forever looking forward to more of this series as the author has even teased book three and I’m already dying for it.

Kate Meader has a brand new series opener with GOOD GUY which is a hockey romance series that is spinning off from the Chicago Rebels series. This one features a sports reporter and the rookie who is a Special Forces veteran? That’s checking a lot of boxes!

A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham is set mainly in the US in a small Scottish transplant of a town thats rather quaint. The story centres around two couples, one more at the fore, both American women, both Scottish men and the build-up to some highland games. Definitely a fun read.


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK by Kristin Rockaway

Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.


Title : How to Hack a Heartbreak
Author : Kristen Rockaway
Format : ARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : women’s fiction
Publisher : Graydon House
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

What I loved most about HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK was Melanie. Our lead character is doggedly using the author’s version of Tinder, Fluttr, to try and find a connection. An enduring one. Not just for the night, though she’s willing to compromise, at least, on The One. She’d be fine with The One For Now. Unfortunately she’s constantly stood up or fielding dick picks. And by day, she’s working in a toxic start-up culture populated by frat bros who treat her, and her role as technical support, with sneers and abuse. Worse, she’s forever undermined as a coder just for being a woman.

This was far from the lighthearted rom-com I thought it would be. It actually read’s a bit less like a romance and more women’s fiction. Melanie has to face up to her own issues of paranoid and insecurity surrounding potential love interests, issues that harken back to her past, all while not letting the world around her drag her down. Even when it does.. repeatedly.
Rounding out the mix, though, is a great group of girlfriends who I would totally read more of. I don’t always just assume we’ll get follow up stories for members of the girlgang but in this case.. I’d love to read more about Whit! And get Lia a happy ending, too.

This story was smart, filled with clever and ingenious ladies, and yet didn’t shy away from the toxic internet and dating culture, whether it be through trending hashtags, reddit threads, or otherwise. I felt this perfectly reflected everything about my world but was still made interesting, too.
While the romance wasn’t my favourite thing, and I don’t know if that’s maybe because some of Melanie’s paranoia about Alex rubbed off on me as a reader, I did enjoy everything else in the story. And the writing. Like I said, I would totally read more of this group, and this world. Or whatever else Rockaway has to offer.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham


The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same… 

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?


Title : A Highlander Walks Into A Bar
Author : Laura Trentham
Series : Highland, Georgia #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : St Martins Paperbacks
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

I think I shot myself in the foot a bit with this read because I had self-hyped it such a lot. I loved the title, I loved the synopsis and the cover is pretty cute too. However, for me, this was just a cute, okay read; it didn’t blow me away like I wanted. That said, I want to tell you what worked and some of things that didn’t.

Firstly, it’s important to understand going into this that it is set in the US not in Scotland, if you’ve read the synopsis, you’ll know this. It is a story of two couples coming together in a mirrored way. Rosie and Izzy (mother and daughter) run an estate that is a piece of Scotland in Georgia, US. Izzy’s mother returns from a Scottish trip with a highlander as a ‘souvenir’. Soon enough, his nephew Alasdair comes to investigate who has captured his uncle’s interest and what her intentions are. From this, Izzy and Alasdair find themselves thrown together for practical reasons.

I found Rosie and Gareth’s story incredibly cute, even though their story was very much in the background. The secrets and lies were less appealing and made for something of a predictable plot point. I found Izzy to be a character that was rather difficult to get to know and this was a barrier to liking her overall. Alasdair was infinitely more likeable. The chemistry between Izzy and Alasdair made for the best part of the book.

My main issue with this story was pacing and the slow sense of the story moving along. I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt a difficulty pushing through but it was pretty consistent. I’ve read and loved Laura Trentham’s books before, so I know this isn’t her normal style of pacing.

The story wrapped up in an amusing and sweet way, also laying the foundations for book two. I am undecided whether I will continue with this series.

Thank you to netgalley and St Martins Press for the review copy.

HOW TO BUILD A BOYFRIEND FROM SCRATCH by Sarah Archer

Dating is hard. Being dateless at your perfect sister’s wedding is harder.

Meet Kelly. A brilliant but socially awkward robotics engineer desperately seeking a wedding date…

Meet Ethan. Intelligent, gorgeous, brings out the confidence Kelly didn’t know she had and … not technically human. (But no one needs to know that.)

With her sister’s wedding looming and everyone in the world on her case about being perpetually single, Kelly decides to take her love life into her own hands – and use her genius skills to create Ethan.

But when she can’t resist keeping her new boy toy around even after the ‘I do’s’, Kelly knows she needs to hit the off switch on this romance, fast. Only, when you’ve found (well, made) your perfect man, how do you kiss him goodbye?


Title : How To Build A Boyfriend From Scratch
Author : Sarah Archer
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Harper Collins
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


2.5 – 3 stars

This title is called The Plus One in the US but here in the UK, we like to really spell it out and to be honest, I prefer the UK title and cover. HOW TO BUILD A BOYFRIEND FROM SCRATCH was such an up and down read for me. I struggled to get through the first 20%, then it became rather interesting and from there I had wavering interest that peaked and troughed.

This book is pretty much what it says on the tin, full of quirkiness in terms of the heroine, Kelly. Ethan, said boyfriend was really interesting but he just didn’t get enough word time. I longed to get more insight into Ethan, who or what he was, how he was evolving and more than anything the dynamic between Kelly and Ethan. I just felt deflated that the focus was more often than not on Kelly, her work and infuriating family relationships.

There was some fantastic dialogue and banter between the characters, especially Ethan and Kelly when we actually saw them together and those moments were gold. It told me that this author has such potential in terms of narrative but it was inconsistent.

“Is Confibot giving you grief again?
Want me to give him a talk, mandroid to mandroid?”

“So did you see how that was supposed to be funny” she asked him as they walked to the car afterward.
“I think so,” he said. “Breasts are funny, anuses are funny, penises are funny, and testicles are funny.”

I had an issue with one throw-away comment by the mother with regards to downs syndrome which I found offensive, as the author didn’t deal with it. Therefore, she should not have written this in her narrative.

So reading my review, which to me seems full of contradictions, you can probably see how conflicted I was reading this. I loved the idea of the book, I enjoyed some of the content, there were pacing issues and I didn’t enjoy other elements. I wasn’t overly satisfied in the end.

Thank you to Harper Collins UK and netgalley for the review copy.

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.


Title : Evvie Drake Starts Over
Author : Linda Holmes
Format : Paperback arc
Page Count : 304
Genre : Women’s fiction, romance
Publisher : Hodder Paperbacks
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Linda Holmes took a story that was rather ordinary and turned it into something quite special. Evvie Drake was like many women, many people; she didn’t feel good enough, she felt the guilt of life and her past and she was afraid to live and be happy.

Evvie had reasons for being this way, but she also had a lot of secrets, not the bank-robbing kind, but secrets that she didn’t tell anyone. Evvie was grieving and yet she felt that she wasn’t. She had lost her place in life, her autonomy and her sheer existence seemed about keeping an appearance of a widow and not hurting other people. The pacing of this story was perfection, as was the timeline. Nothing happened in an instant, time passed tangibly and the changes and evolution in her life were realistic. Evvie as a character was flawed and endearing.

Evvie had an amazing friendship with Andy, I loved how they were so genuinely there for one another. Everyone needs an Andy in their life, but their dynamic changed and that was pretty tough to read. Andy however, brought Dean, her tenant into her life. Dean was a uncomplicated man but he had some difficult problems to work through and he needed a break from New York. Small town Maine brought that escape for him. A slow friendship between these two developed and it was everything unputdownable. I devoured this storyline and these two together and apart. Their romance was one of the most believable stories I’ve read in a long time in contemporary fiction.

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER is a debut, a fantastic one. Linda Holmes has shown in one book her ability to craft believable characters you want to read more about, pace the story with refinement and leave you unable to put the darn book down. I am going to be recommending this book all over because I believe it is that good. You don’t need to know any more than this is a book that needs and deserves to be read widely.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.