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FORESTFALL by Lyndall Clipstone

The stunning sequel to Lyndall Clipstone’s Lakesedge, for fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely

At the lake’s edge, I made my promise. In the forest, I will fall.

The curse that haunted Lakesedge Estate has been broken, but at great cost. Violeta Graceling has sacrificed herself to end the Corruption.

To escape death, Leta makes a desperate bargain with the Lord Under, one that sees her living at his side in the land of the dead. And though he claims to have given her all he promised, Leta knows this world of souls and mists hides many secrets.

When she discovers she is still bound to Rowan, Leta goes to drastic lengths to reforge their connection. But her search for answers, and a path back home, will see her drawn into even more dangerous bargains, and struggling to resist the allure of a new, dark, power.

Title : Forestfall
Author : Lyndall Clipstone
Series : Lakesedge #2
Format : Physical
Page Count : 416
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : October 11, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 

Micky’s 3 star review

Life under
Unwelcome family

This rather dark fantasy du0logy continued with Forestfall and after book one which I enjoyed, I was pretty invested in this story. I don’t know why in retrospect but I really didn’t expect the love triangle we got, partly because I thought I knew where the female MC’s allegiances were; I was wrong.

This story continued in the land of the Lord Under and I did like reading about life there, where Violetta found herself and the family of the Lord Under. I didn’t like the separation between her and Rowan but we were set up for that previously.

Violetta’s conflicted feelings, her actions and the fast-paced journey to resolution didn’t hit the high I felt with book one but I was glad to see this duology to it’s end. I found it less dark than book one, probably because the corruption lost it’s fear in me as a reader.

Overall, this wasn’t as strong as book one for me, but I am glad I followed it to its conclusion.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.

CURSED by Marissa Meyer

It isn’t true, she wanted to whisper. To lean forward and nuzzle her cheek against his temple. To press him against the wall and mold her body to his. I am not his. I will never be his.

Serilda and Gild cannot break the curses that tether their spirits to Adalheid’s haunted castle. There they remain trapped for eternity. On the night of the Endless Moon, the Erlking means to capture one of the seven gods and so be reunited with his lover, Perchta, who has been banished to the underworld.

But it soon becomes clear that the Erlking’s hunger for vengeance won’t be satisfied with a single wish, and his true intentions have the power to alter the mortal realm forever.

Serilda and Gild have no choice but to thwart his plans, all the while solving the mystery of Gild’s forgotten name, and freeing all the ghosts kept in servitude to the dark ones. As the evil forces gather, it seems only their love is strong enough to sustain them . . .

Title : Cursed
Author : Marissa Meyer
Series : Gild #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 539
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Faber Children’s
Release Date : November 8, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 3 star review

This is a conflicted opinion again from me regarding this duology and I find myself coming out in the 3’s again, which makes me sad. There’s things I love about this duology and a couple of issues that override the love which I’ve outlined below.

I liked:
The characters, from His Grim to Serilda, Gild, the children and more
The storyline was strong
I liked the darkness and gore that surfaced regularly

I struggled with:
The overly long, convolutions of what is a solid plotline in the main
Deep description
Both of these issues made it a very pacey read

The struggles are exactly what I felt with book one when I was hoping to be lifted into a more steady and straight forward pacing.

Thank you to Faber Childrens for the eARC.


Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.

Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash their hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.

To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder, what if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right? 

Title : Two Wrongs Make a Right
Author : Chloe Liese
Series : The Wilmot Sisters (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 326
Genre : contemporary romance / retelling
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : November 22, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★

Hollis’ 2 star review

I wish I could say that most of the fault with this one lies with me for literally having read a banger of a contemporary romance right before this one. But also.. this just wasn’t all that great. Now, again, that could be me as I’ve had a rocky road with Liese’s other series, lots of twos with only a few three stars as stand outs, but this one felt really rough — particularly in the case of the writing, especially in the beginning, but said roughness wasn’t limited to just the writing, nope. It also really stretched the concept of a Much Ado About Nothing retelling. I guess that’s why it’s called a reimagining?

But, as a warning, if you expect a modernization of the play? Or even something that looks like Ten Things I Hate About You? Don’t. This homage is a sprinkle instead of a full shower. And truthfully I’m not even sure why the author bothered (except to lean into a whole Shakespeare-retelling themed series, I guess) because it really just reads like a forced hate-to-fake-dating-for-reasons-which-leads-to-love between a quirky colourful female lead and the starchy stiff-upper-lipped giant of a man who is actually Perfection Personified, including his giant donkey kong dong, neither of whom had much personality outside of their tropes and some various representation (autism and anxiety, respectively) and the bit of emotional baggage from past relationships they either have to work through, confess to, or use as window dressing.

Please note I’m not downplaying the existence of the toxic and abusive relationships that are depicted. I actually thought the one playing out in the background was one of the few things that felt authentic; except I wish the villain of the piece, the supposed Claudio, was less.. one-dimensional? I feel like the author tried to be subtle in the beginning, despite Beatrice not feeling all that warm and fuzzy about him and the relationship, and then we veered right into evil villain monologuing after only one awkward slash concerning scene. Which, hey, speaking of which, I wish Jamie, aka Benedick, had actually done something with the information he had, the behaviour he had witnessed, because I kept waiting for that shoe to drop and it never did. And I’m honestly still shocked by it.

Additionally, I was pretty annoyed by Beatrice’s hypocrisy. Sure, she was right about one half of the couple being shady but judging the quickness of someone else’s relationship only to later on accept, without blinking, the bee thing (IYKYK)? After a month? How is that any better?

I realize I’m being a little harsh but honestly I’m left feeling extra (extra) annoyed by how the conflict was resolved at the end and that could be colouring some of the tone of this review. Because so much of it was just stupid and or bonkers or both. Ahem.

I will say, there was something included in the sex scenes that I don’t see enough of on page and that was cool. No, I’m not spoiling.

But anyway, I couldn’t recommend this. If you want tension with the fake dating, you won’t get much. If you want the dynamics that existed in the “source material”, you won’t find them. Witty clever banter? Missing! Have some lame chess puns instead. But if you want a fake dating romance between opposites with some mental health/neurodivergent rep, I mean.. this is an option. And maybe it was cute in the middle. I don’t know, I will admit nothing. Will I read on? Probably. Because that’s just how I am.


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.

Queen of Myth and Monsters by Scarlett St. Clair is book two in the vampire fantasy series Adrian x Isolde.

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

ASTRID PARKER DOESN’T FAIL by Ashley Herring Blake

An interior designer learns to rebuild her love life from the ground up with zero blueprints in this new romantic comedy by Ashley Herring Blake, author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.

For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants? 

Title : Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail
Author : Ashley Herring Blake
Series : Bright Falls (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 368
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Piatkus
Release Date : November 22, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 4.5 star review

So basically what I learned from skimming reviews of this book is that this one worked where Delilah Green Doesn’t Care didn’t. But the opposite is also true. Those who loved the first in this series, didn’t have a great time with this one. But I’m happy to call this a win (book one was fine for me! lots of potential. just had some issues). And the main reason why? Astrid fucking Parker.

Once again, Blake comes in clutch with her stars. Astrid Parker stole my heart just like her stepsister did. And broke it, too. Much feels were had, some tears were shed. I could agonize over exactly how to describe how much Astrid got to me but honestly she was just great. Her whole self-discovery, her reflection, her relationship with her mother.. everything just worked. And speaking of things that worked, this time I was also on board with the love interest, too. Especially because when something is stirred up as potential conflict.. Jordan, while understandable harbouring some doubts, doesn’t stew and isolate and suspect. She goes to Astrid and they have a conversation sans any drama and conflict (and, actually, there’s a second scene that in any other book would’ve ended with a big blow up and didn’t.. huh). Like adults, gasp. And that’s yet another point in this book’s favour; the immature childish behaviour that plagued Delilah Green Doesn’t Care? None of it existed in this one. Huge plus.

Worth noting, too? The third act breakup actually works. And no, this isn’t me having a character growth moment; I am perfectly fine with the plot point if it makes sense without feeling manufactured or stupid or due to miscommunication. And Blake did it well with this story. So, hah.

Weirdly, for a story that centered around this whole renovation show event, those scenes and the associated characters really don’t stand out in hindsight. They were fine, sometimes fun, especially when there were instances of Astrid and Jordan squaring off for the views, and being encouraged by the showrunner, but it just shows how strong the main characters were to just totally outshine the majority of the plot scenery. Their dynamic, their chemistry, was just that strong. Ten out of ten.

Truly, I have little to no notes about this one. I am just soaking in this good feeling. Definitely recommend. And very glad there are more books to come in this series.


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.

Sweep of the Heart by Ilona Andrews is a new instalment in the Innkeeper Chronicles series, this time back with the couple that started it all.

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

A FIRE ENDLESS by Rebecca Ross – double review!

The stunning sequel to A River Enchanted finds the human and faerie realms threatened by an immortal enemy whose defeat can only come through fire, song, and heartrending sacrifice.

East and west. Humans and spirits.

The tenuous balance of the Isle of Cadence is under threat from Bane, the spirit of the north wind.

In the west, Adaira struggles to find her place. And, though magic blooms there, the spirits suffer beneath Bane’s harsh power, felt in every gust of wind.

In the east, Jack Tamerlaine is adrift without Adaira, until he acquires a mission destined to lead him back to her. But among the Tamerlaines sickness is spreading and Torin desperately strikes a bargain with the spirits – a folly at any time.

With their very land at risk, all will need to join together to confront Bane. Yet none can challenge the north wind without paying a terrible price, and the sacrifice required may be more than they can bear…

Title : A Fire Endless
Author : Rebecca Ross
Series : Elements of Cadance (book two)
Format : Hardcover / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 512
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Voyager
Release Date : December 8, 2022

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

Micky’s 4.5 star review

Sweeping storyline
Clan battles

Having liked book one but not loved it, A Fire Endless pretty much added a 100 x boost to my interest in this world, the characters and the story. I got swept up straight away with Cadance and the clans with my love for Adaira, Sidra, Jack and Torin increasing. I said when I read book one that it gave me vibes from Marillier’s Sevenwaters tales and that remained true.

There was so much to this second installment of the tale and the storyline was strong, complex and magical. I really enjoyed how the fae-folk (spirit) realm crossed over with the human realm and how those fae-folk characters came into more focus. Kae and Hap were particular favourites. In terms of my favourite human characters all the kudos has to go to the women of this piece, namely Sidra who I adored and Adaira whose strength and leadership was epic.

The story of the blight, the Breccon clan and life in that castle was just gripping. The story was told in such a personal way, through the eyes of characters readers already care about, that the pages just flew by even though there were a lot of pages.

The sense of family in this book is so prominent; blood and found. That’s the overwhelming feeling I’m left with at the end. I feel so satisfied about the duology overall and I recommend to all my fantasy reading friends.

Thank you to Harper Voyager and InstaBook Tours for the review copy.

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I definitely thought this finale was going to supersede my love for book one in this series but unfortunately the ending took a bit of the wind out of my sails and I can’t quite round up on this one. But almost everything up until the 70% mark was really doing it for me.

I said in my review for book one that I had hoped for more of the clans, which I thought would be an easy ask knowing we’d be on the other side of the island and the conflict, and I mean.. we did a little? But honestly, other than the woad/tattoos and the different living conditions for each side of the island, these clans didn’t feel any different. Beyond the fluffier vs harder characteristics. I wish I had felt a more real difference between them that set them apart. Something that would’ve made the likelihood of these two sides ever coming together, could the clan line and conflict with the spirits be solved, more of an uncertainty.

And my other ask was more romance and that, at least, we did get. Once our silly couples were reunited. Because yes we had not just one separation but two! But it did add to the strength of these characters as individuals which, oh, hey, I forgot to mention how surprising (and refreshing! but also can we n o r m a l i z e this more so I can stop being surprised by the refreshingness?) it was to have lairds and leaders and captains be women. We love to see it. Especially when there’s nothing noteworthy about it; Ross never made a fuss, her characters never made a fuss, but I am now making a fuss — in a good way.

So, again, yes, I had a good time. My vengeance-filled heart wishes the remaining villains of this piece got their comeuppance, but no they get to walk free and continue to be assholes (probably) because the good guys are too good, but other than the ending, that’s really my only complaint. I did see the big reveal coming a miiiiile away but I wasn’t mad about it because I did think it was a clever part of the story. And I did enjoy spending time in this world. I will definitely be picking up Ross’ other series, though I do hope that pairing spends a little more time as enemies than this one did.

If you’re looking for something that feels like a fairytale, with a Scottish/Celtic setting, a strong romance element, a magical riddle to solve, and more, I would definitely suggest you give this fantasy duology a go.

SHADOWFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

“Evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it’s good.” — MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever. — Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister’s murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh — a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.

Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master’s penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac’s journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world . . . or destroy it

Title : Shadowfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 617
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Dell
Release Date : January 18, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 

Hollis’ 2.5 (but rounded up) star review

Despite chomping at the bit back in June, after all the good intentions my buddy and I had to read (more or less..) one of these a month, here we are.. six months later. Whoops? We had the best of intentions but life, y’know?

For me, I was anticipating this book like crazy. Not only because of that intense cliffhanger in book four but this is the book I remember going cuckoo for cocoa puffs over. It wasn’t that I hadn’t loved the first four but book five stood out in my memory. Because so much happens. And, true to that memory, it does. A lot goes on in this book. And, thankfully unlike the last one, things aren’t rushed, Moning lets them breathe a bit with that sizeable jump in page count. And yet, weirdly, maybe we had too much time?

The pacing was a little off in this one. I almost missed the chaotic headlong rush from one action scene to another. Because this was easy to put down, to hope maybe we’ve skipped along by the time I’d picked it back up, as if it was a movie playing on in my absence. There were still some really good parts, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t hold me in thrall like it once had.

Where the book did succeed, a hundred percent? The red herrings. The lead up to how Mac was connected to everything was really good. I’ll admit the whole dreaming of the Cold Place her whole life thing felt a little bit like an afterthought to make it work along the way (unless they were reeeaaally subtle and I missed them but I’m thinking no) but I thought everything else was too good to give it too much side eye. Also, for those keeping track we’re now at Mac 5.0 and she was basically the meme of the goth girl and her sparkly pink sister side by side but instead mixed together in a blender. Or something. I have vague memories that Mac’s identity issues don’t continue to be so wrapped up in her outfits going forward but I have a feeling that’s just wishful thinking.

Also, speaking of lead up, I think I loved the psych-out moment about how Mac’s sister actually died a lot more this time. Moning did a good job making things a lot more than they seemed and therefore a lot more emotionally and morally complex. Also, on a related note, thank christ Rowena is finally dead. She has a character who had long outstayed her welcome and truthfully she was too much an evil villain caricature which didn’t fit considering how layered and complex all the other dark siders are, so. That was lame from start to finish.

Next up, Barrons and his men. We finally get a little understanding of that whole mystery (I remembered learning a lot more, maybe that’s to come?) and his motivations for wanting Mac’s help with the book. And truthfully I had completely forgotten this and I fell a liiiiittle in love with him for it. As much as I’ve enjoyed his character this second time around — even if the alpha male on steroids thing isn’t totally my jam anymore so therefore I’m not quite gagging for him the same way — and his secrets, and honestly I do love the dynamic he has with Mac despite, well, despite Mac sometimes, the words-without-words conversations got hella old hella fast in this one. I would be a lot more in love with his ability to finish her sentences or answer questions she has if it happened a lot less infrequently. As is.. just have a damn conversation people!

Now that the main Fever arc is over and we’re heading into where things (as far as I recall..) get weird(er), I do have a little trepidation over the whole Dani thing. I had definitely expected one event to happen in this book but it didn’t so that’s still to come. However, in some ways, I am looking forward to what happens to her because she is not really written all that well. Between the fecks and the weird obsession with her virginity and her mail blasts and more it’s just a little tiring. I just hope the whole switchover lands a little better than I remember it doing.

Seeing as my buddy and I hoped to have finished this series by the end of 2022, I have no idea when the rest of the series will be conquered but look forward (I guess..?) to more of these in the new year!

KUSHIEL’S CHOSEN by Jacqueline Carey

Mighty Kushiel, of rod and weal
Late of the brazen portals
With blood-tipp’d dart a wound unhealed
Pricks the eyen of chosen mortals

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.

When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren’t far off the mark.

The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre’s brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown… and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.

Title : Kushiel’s Chosen
Author : Jacqueline Carey
Series : Phèdre’s Trilogy (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 678
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Tor Fantasy
Release Date : April 6, 2002

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 

Hollis’ 3 star review

As I said in my review for my reread of book one, I couldn’t actually think of where the story went next. I thought everything I had remembered was contained to book one. But, like has happened before, once I was in this instalment.. it did start to come back. Not all, but some. Having said that, I imagine that’ll be my experience for book three, too, because from here.. I don’t know what comes next. Maybe I’ll remember that one, maybe I won’t. It’s just funny to experience the “nothing nothing noth– oh, wait, here we go” switch.

Now, the question for book one was whether the enjoyment was nostalgia or not and actually in hindsight I don’t think it was the latter. I do think that’s a strong book, with adventure times and romance and intrigue, and this one has much of that as well but somehow didn’t quite land the same way. At least not until closer to the end where things were juicier and the confrontations that had been building for hundreds of pages finally happened.

Part of this feeling could also be attributed to the fact that our lovebirds are at odds and then separated for the majority of this. While I thought their wee confessions in book one kind of out of sync with events, this time? This time their reunion, their feels, everything was perfect. Which I guess means it was worth them going through all those horrid motions up until that point.

And speaking of motions.. the whole Melisande/Phèdre thing perplexes my adult brain. Like, I get it but I don’t get it. And I have to think that ends in book three, though at this time I cannot remember, but like talk about a toxic dynamic and I want to be free of it. But as much as it makes me want to pull a Phèdre and smash my head against the wall, I do have to admire the powerplays and countermoves between these two women. I know this book isn’t that old but it is ancient as far as modern publishing is concerned and I do love that Carey made this main conflict between two women and gave it so many complex layers.

Actually, much of what Carey did, starting with book one, seem to differ much from a lot of fantasy that was written at the time. And even, sadly, up until recently. I couldn’t have predicted how this series would hold up but, again, despite some of the content (which you’ll either run with or run away from), it doesn’t seem to stumble over a lot of the pitfalls of the time. Or, again, it’s nostalgia leaving me blind to them (I will do some review reading once I’m done the third book). This isn’t really a series I would push on anyone but hey, if it sounds like you’re thing and you have time for an epic (or three..), why not try it out.

LOVELIGHT series (1-3) by B.K. Borison

Hi, happy friday, readers! To save you from back to back spam of some weird mostly not enthusiastic reviews, I (Hollis) thought to give you a round-up of the Lovelight series (at least, the ones out so far) by B.K. Borison.

Title Lovelight Farms
Author : B.K. Borison
Format : eBook
Page Count : 416
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : self-published
Release Date : November 10, 2021

Hollis’ review

Pretty sure everyone has seen this book make the rounds the last little while but oddly enough it wasn’t FOMO that had me downloading it. I blame my KU renewal.

But anyway, what is left to say about this contemporary romance set at a Christmas tree farm over the holidays? Not much! It was definitely sweet and festive and swoony. These two besties enter into a fake dating situation in order to help sell the story to an influencer’s feature on small businesses in the hopes it might win the farm a big cash prize; something the farm desperately needs after a string of seemingly unrelated (the look on my face when the main character thinks this, I swear) incidents have been bleeding them dry. As a bonus, once Luka agrees, it allows Stella to live out her secret feelings without risk to her heart or her friendship (elle oh elle, like, what).

Beyond the whole sabotage bits, there was another element at work to this whole sham plan that had me going “but this won’t make sense!” but thankfully the author worked it into the story instead of actually not thinking it through. Even though it still bit them in the ass. Honestly, Stella is a bit spacey, huh?

And speaking of Stella. That third act conflict? I nearly chucked my kindle across the room. I’m just glad it didn’t last longer than it did and the emotional confessions of it all worked well I guess but damn. It was brutal.

If you like small towns, close knit friend ensembles, and (at least in this first book, but from the looks of the covers the trend might not continue for the rest) holiday cheer, you can’t really go wrong with this one. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, particularly as I don’t think I ever really liked Stella that much — which goes to show that some good writing and a great vibe and a fun cast can make up for a main character even with only a single POV to read from I guess! — but here we are.

Main trope : best friends to lovers + fake dating.

Title In The Weeds
Author : B.K. Borison
Format : eBook
Page Count : 410
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : self-published
Release Date : April 18, 2022

Hollis’ review

In some ways this romance was better than the first, the issues that had me side eyeing or wanting to chuck my kindle against the wall were absent. But at the same time, I don’t think I felt as much about this one? I should’ve. Borison did some nice things with the characters, the story, their conflicts, and concerns. I had no real complaints. 

I am still enjoying (if not loving..) the small town vibes (the phone tree is somewhat invasive and gossipy but in a mostly sweet way). I enjoyed seeing more about the workings of the farm and Beckett’s role and all the players involved in running it. I enjoyed how the three main players (Layla gets her book next) interact with each other and support each other. I was shocked (in a good way) by a late-stage conversation (which I won’t spoil) between Beckett and his father and that whole dynamic. And I enjoyed seeing a character like Evie represented, someone who has seen such success through social media, who started out with certain intentions and got lost along the way, and how she found her way back to happiness with her new direction. 

Though, what I h a t e d? Was how Beckett lured his lady love back post-third act break-up. I won’t spoil the how but suffice it to say, ugh. My least favourite kind of reunion catalyst.

But it was easy to put the kindle down whenever I was trying to lose myself for an extended time. That could maybe have been more me than the story, though. Because in rereading everything above.. it sounds great. Big stars. Yet despite that, and maybe this is why it was easy to set aside, I just don’t think it’ll stick with me. Which I think is true for book one, too, in hindsight.

Again, maybe more 3ish+ but still refusing to commit to a rating.

Main trope : opposites attract.

Title Mixed Signals
Author : B.K. Borison
Format : eBook
Page Count : 339
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : self-published
Release Date : August 30, 2022

Hollis’ review

Okay, I realize maybe I haven’t mentioned it before in reading these books but these characters (ladies AND menfolk) are the clumsiest ever. I swear, people are knocking over things in every scene. Humans are not that clumsy. This is not endearing. It makes me concerned for the peripheral vision of everyone in this town. Is that kind of thing contagious? Glaucoma? Tunnel vision? Whatever.

Sticking with that tune, I have to say that while this started off great, and pretty much right through had lots of lighthearted loveliness and no real angst, this veered off track by the third act breakup. For all that we get some foundation on the love troubles these two individuals have, I don’t think there was enough substance there to explain why Layla had her freakout. I know that usually the big conflict is manufactured or shimmied into functioning as a plot piece but this one was real thin. As it was the shortest book, by almost a hundred pages, this could’ve easily been solved. Additionally, the same could be said for Caleb and all his lovelife woes. Sure, these two are just meant to be a perfect fit but none of his concerns ever manifested and it just seemed like a lame excuse to get these two together. 

Also the whole losing power thing the night before (that’s as much as I’ll say and even that is maybe less vague than I should be..) was a little much. While I enjoyed the whole town coming together in book two, in this one, it just felt shoehorned in. Like we needed to get it done for the sake of having set a standard and checking it off the list. But maybe it’s just me being crotchety again.

I’m not mad I spent time in this town, at Lovelight, and I hope Boriston does something fun and different with the next pairing she’s set up (book four to come) but I’m glad for the break. Maybe I’ll be happier then.

This one might be a 2.5 rounded up to 3. Or maybe a solid 3 no extra. What even are ratings.

Main trope : fake dating but this time they weren’t friends first so it’s different?

Is this a series you’re interested in? And, if so, are you still interested despite these reviews? If you have KU, you have nothing to lose by at least trying book one; especially if you’re looking for a festive read to get you into the festive mood for the season.

Notably, I don’t normally specify the tropes outright this way but considering these are companions I thought maybe it would be helpful incase you want to read one more than the other.