CRASH by Harper Dallas

JJ Schneider has it all.

A high-octane career as a pro snowboarder. A ride-or-die crew. A seven-figure sponsorship deal.

None of it makes up for losing the love of his life.

It’s been a year since Raquel Sfeir walked away. From the man she loved. From the job of her dreams. She’s done with enabling extreme athletes to risk their lives for the next thrill… especially the one who chose his career—and its dangers—over her.

But when a life-threatening accident shatters JJ’s dreams as well as his spine, Raquel finds herself drawn back to the man who broke her heart.

This time, she’s not going to give him the chance. She’s going to get him whole and out of the house they bought together—and then she’s moving on for good.

Raquel won’t be anyone’s consolation prize. But JJ’s had a lifetime of pursuing impossible goals, and he’s determined to show the woman of his dreams that even hearts can heal.


Title : Crash
Author : Harper Dallas
Series : The Wild Sequence #2
Format : eBook
Page Count : 414
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : April 15, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

“I take a deep breath. Is it falling, if you decide to jump?”

First Harper Dallas gave us RIDE and then CRASH landed on my kindle. This book sucked me into it’s vortex and gave me that wonderful experience of devouring words that RIDE also delivered on. CRASH was a second chance romance but it wasn’t beautiful, it was painful, raw and hard fought for.

CRASH is set in the world of elite sports, with top athletes in the snowboarding world. I was already familiar with the protagonists from book one, particularly JJ. The laid-back JJ we saw in RIDE was not present here. JJ was a broken man both physically and psychologically and it was difficult to witness his struggle and circumstances. Raquel, his ex, found herself intertwined with his life again and it wasn’t a comfortable fit. The hurt between these two just rippled through the pages; I felt it all.

What was different about this second chance romance was that their love for one another was not the issue, I’ll leave the pages to tell you what was. I felt churned up and in turmoil with these two as they navigated the present, considered the future and remembered their shared past.

“Hope. It’s painful. It’s beautiful. It’s so much and God knows, it’s never enough. Because you always want more. Want to know what’s going to happen.”

If you loved Chase, Brooke, Hanne and Hunter from book one, there’s plenty of these characters to satisfy your need for more but it was Chase and JJ’s relationship that made this book extra special. Chase’s character development continued in CRASH and I soaked up these moments; this friendship was everything.

Harper Dallas has shown that her debut in RIDE was no fluke, this woman has talent and she can capture emotion, spinning it beautifully onto the page. I rarely cry at happy endings but I did with this one (that’s not a spoiler, this is romance, you guys, HEA guaranteed). Go click book one, if you’ve not read it and if you have, don’t hold back on CRASH.

TOP SECRET by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Bestselling authors Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy return with their first Male / Male romance in 3 years.

LobsterShorts, 21 Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.
SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.
LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?
SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?
LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21 Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?
LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit. SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries… LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?
SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me. LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing..


Title : Top Secret
Author Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
Format : eBook
Page Count : 319
Genre : NA contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Tuxbury Publishing LLC and Elle Kennedy Inc
Release Date : May 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I’m honestly just as surprised as you are by this rating.

I’m a big fan of this duo, as individual authors and also for their co-authorered HIM and US duology, so the news that this top secret m/m — a return to the genre AND to writing together after three years — was dropping had me super super hype. And thankfully there wasn’t a huge build up between the announcement and release. But this didn’t live up to their previous works and definitely didn’t feel as strong as many of their solo offerings have in the past.

I’m single, a little depressed, and I’m very horny, with a side of sexual confusion, too.

The plot is full of, like, click baity excellence. I mean that in a good way. It’s a sexual awakening story, with a texting element, and a connection that develops via aliases that completely contradicts their pre-existing relationship. So, all that and basically a hate to love to boot? Hell to the yes. And for the first.. I want to say forty percent? I was clicking that bait, I was riding that train, I was all about that bass. Or something.

I dreamt about sex with men once. Or twice. I never mentioned that to [my girlfriend]. But why would I? I’ve also dreamt of meeting a dragon who smoked clove cigarettes. The things my brain invents while I’m sleeping aren’t newsworthy.

Except there was an added drama element that should’ve made me sympathetic towards one of the characters but instead just irritated me. On the other side of the pairing, there was a different conflict element that made up so much of the lead’s indecision and stress and then, poof, said element literally became a non-issue at a convenient time and place in the novel. What? The transition from realizing who was on the other side of the phone just.. I don’t know, I feel like I missed it? Things both escalated very quickly and yet there was no sense of time passing, no sense of anything meaningful between them beyond boning, and I honestly think it’s because everyone was so underdeveloped. It felt very plot driven, with pitstops for drama, and that was definitely at the expense of the characters’ emotional growth and evolution. Honestly if half the background noise had been cut out it would’ve been far more enjoyable. And there would’ve been much more time for the snarky banter that I liked. Because it was those moments that really did highlight the leads’ chemistry, the sexual tension, the connection.

You’re a yellow lab.” 
I’m.. what?”
A dog. A big, happy dog chasing Frisbees on the beach with his pals. You’re a pack animal.
And you’re.. a pit bull?'”
Not even. I’m a tom cat in the alley. Just passing through.”

So, while TOP SECRET is full of delicious tropes, and an excellent early build, it does fizzle well before the climax. This lacked the fun that I had with THE DEAL, it could’ve done with some of the gravitas demonstrated in STEADFAST, and ultimately I wanted a connection like we had in HIM. These authors are so talented and can handle a range of topics and genres with humour and cleverness and consideration and still drown you in swoons. But I just didn’t get much of any of that with this one. 

BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo – double review!

Two best friends. A shared birthday. Six years…

ERIC: There was the day we were born. There was the minute Morgan and I decided we were best friends for life. The years where we stuck by each other’s side—as Morgan’s mom died, as he moved across town, as I joined the football team, as my parents started fighting. But sometimes I worry that Morgan and I won’t be best friends forever. That there’ll be a day, a minute, a second, where it all falls apart and there’s no turning back the clock.

MORGAN: I know that every birthday should feel like a new beginning, but I’m trapped in this mixed-up body, in this wrong life, in Nowheresville, Tennessee, on repeat. With a dad who cares about his football team more than me, a mom I miss more than anything, and a best friend who can never know my biggest secret. Maybe one day I’ll be ready to become the person I am inside. To become her. To tell the world. To tell Eric. But when?

Six years of birthdays reveal Eric and Morgan’s destiny as they come together, drift apart, fall in love, and discover who they’re meant to be—and if they’re meant to be together. From the award-winning author of If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo, comes a heart-wrenching and universal story of identity, first love, and fate.


Title : Birthday
Author : Meredith Russo
Format : ARC
Page Count : 275
Genre : YA contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Flatiron Books
Release Date : May 21, 2019

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


Hollis’ 5 star review

BIRTHDAY blew me away.

I don’t think we have much choice in who we turn out to be, as much as we might want to.

I honestly don’t even know what to say. But my god. I was choking back the sobs by page thirty and that more or less was what I did throughout the rest of the book, too. And just thinking about the journey makes me want to cry.

What do you do when you can’t swim up, you can’t swim down, and staying put will suffocate you?

As always I went in with only a very very vague idea as to what to expect and as a result I was totally unprepared for.. everything. I loved the subject matter, I hurt from the agony of some of Morgan and Eric’s experiences, their struggles, but their enduring connection, the evolution of it, was just so heartbreakingly beautiful. Equally lovely was the way in which the story was told. I’ve read a book or two like this before but never has it suited the story as well as it did for this one.

I don’t know if anyone will love me the way that I really am.

I should have so much to say about this because I loved it so much but I’m honestly just at a loss and a puddle of feelings, so. Here’s a great book with a terrible review to recommend it. And know that I will absolutely be picking up Russo’s debut (IF I WAS YOUR GIRL) and anything and everything else she releases.

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


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I’m not going to cover old ground here having come to this a few months after Hollis but oh my, this book took me on a journey, a very emotional one.

Birthday is laid out as Eric and Morgan’s stories on each birthday from about 12 to 18, there is no narrative in between but there is definitely a catch up on what’s gone on during the gap. Eric and Morgan are an example of an unconditional friendship in their younger years, not an easy one but a giving one. I loved both these characters individually but also in their ‘ship’ journey. (Hollis look away from the use of that word – one off).

As the story evolved there was a bully-Dad who I hated with a passion, some arse-hole family and friends and some decent people on the periphery. My heart was in my mouth, then it was breaking, then it was hopeful, then it was angry…are you feeling my experience, it was pretty emotional. I messaged Hollis at one point to threaten her if this didn’t end well, as she rec’d it to me. Bad friend that I am.

I do think there is a mild case of utopia in this story in that I am not sure an Eric exists for trans teens at that age but I do hope and believe that an Eric can come into their life at a later date. That said, I loved how the story developed and I wouldn’t change a thing.

This is the kind of book that I want everyone to read, to open their mind to feel the personal journey of individuals. This is the kind of book that helps me as an educator working with young people who sometimes knock on my office door and break their hearts over major things like this. Go read it.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE by Sandhya Menon

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?


Title : There’s Something About Sweetie
Author Sandhya Menon
Series : When Dimple Met Rishi (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Simon Pulse
Release Date : May 14, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, don’t pelt me with rotten fruit, but I have to get this out of the way : THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE was very.. sweet. Kind of gooey. I wonder if it was a deliberate choice in order to balance out the less-than-fun fatphobic elements of the story or if that’s just the author’s preference (I’ve read WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI but it was a few years ago and I can’t remember what the sweet factor was like, so, anyway..).

Resisting fatphobic messages was one thing — but what about the insidious, internalized fat phobia she carried around?

I was really keen on this one because of the aforementioned fat issue. As per the summary, Sweetie was toted to be big and beautiful and trying to be braver, bolder, in the face of her mother’s criticisms and constant need to hold her back for fear of what others might say or do. And this definitely lived up to that. I actually really really adored Sweetie. I liked how she pushed herself to take risks, to stand up for herself, how she was confident in herself despite the fact that everything (society, media) and everyone (family, peers) would have her believe there was something wrong with her. But I also appreciated her moments of doubt, of frustration, with her body — we all have that one area, or more, no matter our size, that we just dislike — that just proved she was human, too. 

“The word ‘fat’ isn’t inherently bad or gross. It’s people who’ve made it the way. ‘Fat’ is just the opposite of ‘thin’, and no one flinches at that one. So, to me, ‘fat’ is just another word that describes me, like ‘brown’ or ‘girl’ or ‘athlete’.”

As for Ashish, this is where the connection to the first book came. He’s Rishi’s little brother; confident, cocky, not-quite-connected-to-his-culture, and also recently heartbroken and reeling from the fact that for all his cool player ways he actually loved his ex, and doesn’t know how to move on. Desperate to change things up, get his groove back, he follows in Rishi’s footsteps and has his parents set him up with someone they approve of. And in comes Sweetie. Nothing like the previous girls he dated and yet.. 

Ashish was one of those naturally flirty people. It was, like, his resting state. He had resting flirty face.

I loved their connection, I loved their differences, I loved their individual sets of friends, and all the diversity within the pages. I’ll admit that some of the monologue-y impassioned speeches or wise observations were a little much, and kind of over the top, and not hardly what I think we’d see from sixteen and seventeen year olds. But they were passionate and wise and accurate. So, thumbs up, but maybe a little too much and a few too many. 

There’s your typical ‘hide something for good-ish reasons and have it blow up in your face’ drama, which is hardly limited to YA and happens in all romance, and some issues or conversations did feel repetitive, plus Sweetie’s mother as the sole hold out only to have the eleventh hour epiphany was kind of.. shrug. Again, typical, and I would’ve liked to have seen more gradual awareness in that transition but alas. The romance, too, is definitely a fall hard and fall fast situation and, again, ooey gooey sweet, but I still liked it.

He was doing his trademark smolder-smirk; she could see it in her peripheral vision. It was thirty percent smirk and seventy percent smolder, and she didn’t even have fire protection in the car.

If you want a diverse, feel good, YA contemporary that’s heavy on the romance and heavy on self-acceptance, this is the book for you.

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

STEPSISTER by Jennifer Donnelly – double review!

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.


Title : Stepsister
Author : Jennifer Donnelly
Format : Paperback arc
Page Count : 352 pages
Genre : YA Fantasy, retellings
Publisher : Hot Key Books & Scholastic Press
Release Date : May 14, 2019

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

Steel your stomach for the start of this book because it delves in all twisted up and the story that ensues is every kind of unexpected. The protagonist of this book, Isabelle, is the kind of character that you have to grow to admire. She’s an ugly stepsister with past behaviour and characteristics that speak of inner ugliness. Interestingly, her physical appearance isn’t particularly sketched out, leaving the reader to imagine.

We meet Isabelle at a late juncture in the traditional Cinderella story, from the initial opening you will never be able to guess where this story goes. In fact, the book’s biggest strength is the ability to tell a unique story when it is a retelling. Both Isabelle and Tavi, the other stepsister are quirky, determined characters, with Isabelle in particular, showing strength and tenacity. The backdrop for this tale is that France is at war and the battle is getting closer and closer to the main characters’ dwelling.

There is a clever underlying story of Fate and Chance, two beings with the power to influence the lives of Isabelle, warring over her destiny. This made for interesting manipulation of the story and characters that Isabelle met. Tanaquill, the fairy queen, could not have been less Disney-like if she tried and I loved that aspect and the quest she sent Isabelle on.

Whilst my enjoyment of STEPSISTER is clear in this review, I didn’t fully connect to the characters outside of Isabelle. Sometimes I struggled with the pacing, but it always picked up again fairly quickly.

I am impressed by Jennifer Donnelly’s creativity and writing of STEPSISTER and I would definitely be interested in seeking more from her in a similar vein. STEPSISTER will appeal to those readers like myself who like a side of twisted with their fairytales.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you Hot Key Books.


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

History books say that kings and dukes and generals start wars. Don’t believe it. We start them, you and I. Every time we turn away, keep quiet, stay out it, behave ourselves.

I was completely unprepared for how quickly, and how hard, I would fall in love with STEPSISTER. This book immediately opens up with a warning about how this is a darker take on the well-known tale and it is definitely that. But it’s not close your eyes and hide under the cover scary; it’s just hammering home the stark truths and unpleasant realities of societal expectations, a woman’s fate in this world (and our own), and the bleakness of war. And I mean there’s also the fact that the stepsisters lop off pieces of themselves in order to win a prince, which, hey, fun times!

Ella is the beauty. You and I are the ugly stepsister. And so the world reduces us, all three of us, to our lowest common denominator.”

This is the story of what comes after Cinderella, Ella in this story, gets her prince. What befalls the ugly stepsisters and the wicked stepmother. In this case, it’s being shunned. It’s being ridiculed. It’s shame and regret. It’s accepting their choices and living with themselves.. or trying to. It’s about a wish to be pretty, thinking it’ll solve all your problems, because discovering and facing the truth of oneself is so much harder.

How many times had she cut away parts of herself at her mother’s demand? The part that laughed too loudly. That rode too fast and jumped too high. The part that wished for a second helping.

Donnelly’s writing captivated me. It bowled me over. There were passages that made me want to cheer because of the beautiful feminist observations, parts that made me laugh because wow the second stepsister was freaking hilarious, and also parts that made me cry — embarrassingly one of them had to do with mice. But I own that.

I have that feeling.”
What feeling?”
The feeling that you want to own someone body and soul, spirit them away from everyone else, have them all to yourself forever and ever and ever. It’s called love.”
No, it’s called kidnapping.”

The elements of this story are familiar because we’ve heard, or watched, the tale. But never from this perspective, never in this way, and there was a freshness, a realness, to this retelling that just.. got me. Strength and shame and beauty and wonder and forgiveness. Intelligence and cleverness and agony — physical and of spirit — and heartbreak. It seemed to flow effortlessly and honestly the only thing keeping this from being five stars is the big fancy HEA. I don’t think it was a wrong choice but maybe it was a little too right, if that makes sense? I would’ve liked half a step back, I think.

I wanted books. I wanted math and science. I got corsets and gowns and high heeled silk slippers. It made me sad [..]. And then it made me angry. So no, I can’t make myself likeable. I’ve tried. Over and over. It doesn’t work. If I don’t like who I am, why should you?”

I didn’t have much in the way of expectations when I picked this up; I had heard of it but not been endlessly beat about the head with hype. And it definitely deserves some. Totally recommend.

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

SERIOUS MOONLIGHT by Jenn Bennett

From award-winning Jenn Bennett comes a swoon-worthy story with a compelling mystery at its heart 

Raised in isolation and home-schooled by her strict grandparents, the only experience Birdie has had of the outside world is through her favourite crime books. But everything changes when she takes a summer job working the night shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

There she meets Daniel Aoki, the hotel’s charismatic driver, and together they stumble upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—is secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell, and in doing so, realize that the most confounding mystery of all may just be her growing feelings for Daniel.


Title : Serious Moonlight 
Author Jenn Bennett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : 16 May 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

The comfort of sinking into Jenn Bennett’s words and characters is a treat. SERIOUS MOONLIGHT was a gentle tale of first love, freedom, mystery, mistakes and self-discovery and I simply enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Birdie who’s name is fortuitous, is a young woman finally flying from the cage. She’s lived with her protective grandparents for most of her adolescence but now it is her time. Birdie had had some tough grief experiences but she was embracing her first job and other firsts with some trepidation but also courage. Birdie was endearing, sweet, an over-thinker and lacking in confidence but there was character growth to enjoy.

Daniel was a beta-male, the type of guy that makes me swoon for days with his unsure genuineness. I loved him, his cheekiness and belief in his and Birdie’s connection. These two bonded over a mystery almost of their own creation, sleuthing through Seattle with conversation and touches. This story revealed more and more about each character so that I felt ‘in this’ with Birdie and Daniel, getting to know and love them. Grandpa was one of my favourite side characters along with the colourful Mona.

“No one but Daniel had made me feel so much in such a small amount of time. And I didn’t want to walk away from that.”

This is no insta-love story, don’t be mistaken, there is credible build over time of friendship, camaraderie and fumbling. There is fantastic diverse characters and characteristics naturally bubbling in this read, much to revel in. Just give this sweet book a read and sit back and bask in the fun.

Thank you Simon & Schuster UK and netgalley for this early copy.

UNBROKEN by Jay Crownover

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series comes a captivating novella about a rugged rodeo star who will do anything to protect the people he loves.

When rodeo star Crew Lawton loses everything in a bad bet, he has no choice but to take a new job to pay off his debts – even if it means becoming the face of an expensive male skincare line. Crew is used to getting sweaty and rustling in the dirt, not posing for photo shoots. And he’s certainly not used to being bossed around by a woman who doesn’t even know the difference between bulls and broncs. But Crew owes money to dangerous criminals, and he’ll do anything Della says in order to pay them back and keep them far away from his family in Loveless, Texas…

The launch of her new men’s line for her family’s company means everything to Della Deveaux, and she’s not willing to let some rugged, arrogant cowboy ruin her campaign. Crew Lawton is the last man she would have chosen to represent her chic, sophisticated brand. Unfortunately, her father already invested millions in Crew’s stupidly handsome face. Yet the more time they spend together, Della and Crew realize that opposites doattract. But when the time comes for Crew to face his past mistakes, will he be able to protect his family…and the woman he’s come to love?


Title : Unbroken
Author : Jay Crownover
Series : #0.5 Loveless, Texas
Format : eARC
Page Count : 160
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Forever Yours
Release Date : May 14, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This novella was a good series starter, it set the context and the family well for the series that is up and coming. UNBROKEN brought a cowboy, Crew out of his failing broncho-riding world and into New York for a makeover related to sponsorship deals. Della was the product lead and therefore responsible for his transformation. I liked their opposites dynamic.

Is this a cowboy book? Kind of, yes but envisage cowboy in the city (not unlike sex in the city!). I am looking forward to and expecting future books to be more cowboy-orientated and we shall see if this becomes the case. Suffice it to say there was enough cowboy-ness to meet my expectations. I think I’ve used the word cowboy enough now.

As can be the case with novellas, the characters were sketched more briefly and their relationship developed quickly. They definitely had chemistry and the heat was written really well. Instalove was circumvented, I’m glad to say but I would have preferred a full novel for this couples story to really do it justice. I’m hoping to see more from this couple as the series stretches out into the full novels. I will definitely be continuing on with the series.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you Forever Yours and Netgalley.

THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren


Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.


Title : The Unhoneymooners
Author : Christina Lauren
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Gallery Books
Release Date : May 14, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Sadly, THE UNHONEYMOONERS was not as funny as I had hoped or had heard it was going to be. To put this into perspective : I don’t have a single highlight to quote for you. Not. one.

The first half is definitely the highlight, though, with snarky hate banter between Olive, the twin sister/maid of honour, and Ethan, the groom’s brother and best man. The circumstances surrounding their pretend relationship and forced proximity are OTT and outlandish but also kind of slapstick-funny and I enjoyed their stiff-acting and all the weird improbabilities that occur while they go on their sibling’s honeymoon. But there’s a weird element that gets introduced that I didn’t like, a shitton of gaslighting and, almost, blame for something the heroine should not have been blamed for once something is revealed, and, of course, with the climax comes a whole host of drama that explodes all over the readers’ and Olive’s faces.

That said, I really liked the supportive backbone of family that is woven throughout the story but wish we’d had more of the Torres’ and extended clan because they were fabulous.

I definitely had a good time reading this, at least up until around the midway point, but THE UNHONEYMOONERS won’t be making it onto my list of CLo favourites.

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

RED, WHITE and ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?


Title : Red, White & Royal Blue
Author : Casey McQuiston
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : contemporary new adult romance, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Griffin
Release Date : May 14, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

Do either of y’all know what a viscount is? I’ve met, like, five of them, and I keep smiling politely as if I know what it means when they say it. Alex, you took comparative international government relational things. Whatever. What are they?
I think it’s that thing when a vampire creates an army of crazed sex waifs and starts his own ruling body.

I can’t even tell you how happy I am that this book was everything I wanted it to be — and a million things more.

Oh my god, this is like all those romantic comedies where the girl hires a male escort to pretend to be her wedding date and then falls in love with him for real.” “That is not at all what this is like.

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE is the happiness and sweetness we deserve; not just right now (though maybe especially right now?) but in general. This is one of those rare gems of a story where there isn’t a single character to dislike. Where there is representation in so many fabulous forms. Where there is silliness and drama and charm and swoons and just enough angst to make you hurt and the best kind of ending — the one that makes you cry and cheer and cry some more and hug your kindle to your chest. The kind of ending you’ll relive because you know, absolutely, one hundred percent, that you’ll be reading this book over and over again.

I never thought I’d be standing here faced with a choice I can’t make, because I never.. I never imagined you would love me back.

Royals, politics, biracial rep, bisexual rep, grief, addiction, anxiety.. McQuiston somehow spins it all into a delightful tale that will make you laugh and shed tears and wish you could be friends with the characters within the pages.

Wait, are you watching videos of Justin Trudeau speaking French again?” “That’s not a thing I do!

This is pure fun and totally heartwarming, with tons of real world tongue-in-cheek dialogue (that, hey, it’s nice to laugh about, all things considered), and I’m so happy that release day is (almost!) finally here so I can go about shoving this book in everyone’s face.

I don’t think this election is going to hinge on an email server.
You sure about that?
Listen, maybe if [he] had more time to sow those seeds of doubt, but I don’t think we’re there. Maybe it it were 2016.
^– probably too soon but h o n e s t l y.

Highly highly recommend.

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


PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND OTHER FLAVORS by Sonali Dev

Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider
·       Never do anything to jeopardize your
brother’s political aspirations
·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.
A man who has never felt at home anywhere.
And a choice to be made between the two.


Title : Pride, Prejudice, and other Flavors
Author : Sonali Dev
Series : The Rajes #1
Format : e-arc
Page Count : 496 pages
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : May 7, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This read was the most unusual Pride & Prejudice retelling I have encountered and where it shone was in the complexity of the plot and characters of the family, so true to the original. However, this is a authentic piece of fiction in it’s own right, you recognise the foundation of Pride and Prejudice but the Rajes family are new and fresh for your perusal.

Trisha Rajes was a savant-type neurosurgeon but she was also everything socially awkward, quirky and sensitive in her non-professional life. I lost count of the times her dialogue and inner monologue made me laugh out loud. Believe it or not, although talented, Trisha was pretty insignificant in her family and she longed for closer ties with them.

“Because it was a fact universally acknowledged that she was an approval slut when it came to her family.”

When Trisha met DJ (Darcy James), also known as ‘Bicep-Chef’ she was all clumsy tongue, arrogance, superiority and foot in mouth. This situation continued whenever they met and that was often. Trisha’s connection to DJ was complex and emotive, there was a story with such heart in the background to this retelling. DJ was definitely the one with the quick quips and speedy rebuttals but really he was no better behaved than Trisha.

“What was it about this woman that made him want to be a prick? Oh yeah, it was the fact that she was a callous snob and she made him feel like – what was the phrase? -ah, the hired help.”

The family element in this story is strong with lots of dysfunctional connections but bonds that desired more. Nisha and Yash were my favourites, with HRH my least favourite. There were short periods of description and back story that sometimes felt like I was pushing through but this story was so worth it.

If you fancy a classic retelling that is out of the ordinary, then Sonali Dev will inspire you, make you laugh and generally entertain the heck out of you.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins.