PAUSE by Kylie Scott

An unpauseable new romance from New York Times bestselling, Audie Award winning author Kylie Scott!

When Anna wakes up from a coma after a car crash, she discovers life has gone on without her. Her husband has been unfaithful—with her best friend—and she’s been long since replaced at work. While her old life is a distant memory, her new life feels like an empty shell. Then she meets the stranger who saved her life during the crash, and he changes everything.

Leif Larsen—tattooist, joker, and player—has his own scars thanks to the crash that put Anna in a coma. Helping her move on from her failed marriage, and create a new life, sounds like a perfect distraction. So when he needs a new roommate, he invites Anna to begin her new life with him.

Although their lives may have been put on pause, together they just might find a way to heal.


Title : Pause
Author : Kylie Scott
Narrator : Andi Arndt
Format : Audible Audio
Length : 6 hours, 17 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Audible
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Accidents
Betrayal
Quick fulfilment

I feel like I’m the champion of Repeat by Kylie Scott, I loved that audio and I’ve since re-listened and re-read. So Pause had big shoes to fill and alongside that Leif wasn’t the easiest character like in Repeat having fouled up in his relationship choices bringing consequences.

Pause started with an accident and hospitals which felt reminiscent of Repeat but I didn’t mind that to be honest, as Anna’s story was different enough to feel new. The circumstances she found herself in however, were pretty vile.

I liked hearing about how Anna’s life unraveled and came back together, I perhaps wanted a bit more narrative about her recovery. Anna and Leif had chemistry but it felt pretty fast moving. I enjoyed the story but I wasn’t wowed by it.

This was a quick listen, I would say this is a perfect for a day or a weekend, with great narration. Andi Arndt excels at male dialogue, so while this is a single POV story, when Leif speaks, it feels so credible on the audio.

Thank you to Audible for the early review copy.

ALL RHODES LEAD HERE by Mariana Zapata

Losing people you love is hard.

Aurora De La Torre knows moving back to a place that was once home isn’t going to be easy.

Starting your whole life over probably isn’t supposed to be.

But a small town in the mountains might be the perfect remedy for a broken heart.

Checking out her landlord across the driveway just might cure it too.


Title : All Rhodes Lead Here
Author : Mariana Zapata
Format : Ebook
Page Count : 551
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : April 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Grumpster (hot cross-cinnamon roll)
Grief
New beginnings
Bats
All the feels

Mariana Zapata made my reading weekend and filled me up with all the good feelings, the journey, the investment and I would like to read this again…now?

All Rhodes Lead Here is aptly about a journey towards something. Aurora (Ora) was finally returning to her childhood home town to start afresh, a place of grief but once a place of happiness. This outdoorsy gal (me) loved that this book homed in on hiking, nature and wild animals as a backdrop. They brought hilarity but also danger.

One small step for Aurora De La Torre, one giant leap for the rest of my life. I wasn’t going to let anyone ruin it. Not even Game Warden Moody.

Grumpy Rhodes (hey, yeah – Zapata excels at the grumpster, so what) was a little rude, a lot stern and a great dad. Amos his teen was such a huge part of this story and his relationship with Ora was everything. Rhodes himself had a journey and all I will say is yes, slow burn and I’m a little singed around the edges from the sparks.

Whilst this story was about fresh starts, it was also a slow unravelling of Aurora’s past and there were two clever stories I needed answers on and I was invested the whole of the book on those past issues. Aurora was a gorgeous character inside the most, outside also but her heart was infectiously lovely.

I burnt through these pages in the way that Mariana Zapata knows how to lead me. I wasn’t disappointed in a thing and everything felt unique to this story. I loved it, I savoured and devoured it simultaneously, I will be re-reading and audioing as soon as I can. Go get!

HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING by Denise Williams

One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.

Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.


Title : How to Fail at Flirting
Author : Denise Williams
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus
Release Date : December 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Good guy
Finding your voice
Academia
Work complications

This book has left me so up in my feels, warm, fuzzy and satisfied ones. I feel like this book was written for me because it was a great romance and the protagonist was in academia. You can tell the author navigates this life because as a female PhD myself in a male dominated world, on the endless hamster wheel of teaching and publications, there are endless goal posts.

Naya was a superb heroine, flawed and strong, striving and trying to disappear at the same time; I just loved her. This book had definite triggers for some (check out other reviews for trigger warnings or DM me) but that sensitive context really had me drawn in to Naya’s past, her present and future.

Let’s talk Jake, a nerd, cute and a great guy. It took time to reveal his character and I liked that I felt in Naya’s position, trying to work him out, was he really a good guy? The cheese was perfection, the chemistry was firey and delightful and the on-page romantics were just right. I really dug how this story played out, the banter, the sweetness, the demonstration of caring.

The plot lines were wholly realistic but the romance and the relationship never got lost, in fact, it was the navigation of the relationship alongside real life that made this book. Davis…I have no words, what a disgusting creature he was, he totally gave me the chills and not good ones.

I crushed How To Fail At Flirting in less than 24 hours which is pretty good for this woman with a family. Life is full of interruptions but this book had to be pulled from my hands to go out for a walk, that was my sacrifice for the day.

Do yourself a favour and pick this book up. I simply cannot wait for Denise Williams’ next book.

Thank you to Piatkus/Little Brown UK for the review copy.

MAKE IT SWEET by Kristen Callihan

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Callihan comes a charming, emotional romance about redefining dreams and discovering unlikely love along the way.

Life for Emma isn’t good. The world knows her as Princess Anya on Dark Castle, but then her character gets the axe—literally. The cherry on top is finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She needs a break, and sanctuary comes in the form of Rosemont, a gorgeous estate in California promising rest and relaxation.

Then she meets the owner’s equally gorgeous grandson, ex–hockey player and current recluse Lucian Osmond, and she sees her own pain and yearning reflected in his eyes.

He’s charming when he wants to be but also secretive and gruff, with protective walls as thick as Emma’s own. Despite a growing attraction, they avoid each other.

But then there’s an impromptu nighttime skinny-dip, and Lucian’s luscious homemade tarts and cream cakes start arriving at Emma’s door, tempting her to taste life again…

In trying to stay apart, they only grow closer—and their broken pieces just might fit together and make them whole.


Title : Make It Sweet
Author : Kristen Callihan
Format : eARC
Page Count : 367
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : February 23, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Grumpy guy
Pastries and baking
Innuendo and double entendre for days
Funny and sweet

Make It Sweet was a satisfying contemporary romance with two protagonists steeped in fame but crashing to earth. This was a dual POV story and that really brought a richness to the narrative.

These characters were opposites in many ways and wary of one another but there sure was was chem-is-try. Once I got over the initially irritating cream innuendos…they made more sense as time went on, I was sold on this story. There were definitely shades of Game of Thrones context for the heroine Emma and I liked that visualisation in the background. Luc had struggles with his career and he was the type of man who found it hard to open up.

I think we read a lot of contemporary romance where the heroine is trying to ‘find herself’ and I enjoyed this turn of tables where it was the hero finding his direction.

Back to the chemistry I alluded to earlier, this read had quite a bit of heat and coupled with the baking context that made for some funny loaded banter and dialogue. I did settle into this and eye rolled/laughed my way through. I found it all endearing on the whole. I will add that Kristen Callihan knows how to write that kind of scene.

This standalone was a great romance, with a rich storyline, good side characters in addtion to the main characters and a lovely culmination. I just loved where it ended and it wasn’t an obvious ending.

Thank you to Montlake for the early review copy.

FIRST COMES LIKE by Alisha Rai

The author of The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral returns with a story about finding love in all the wrong inboxes…

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life? 


Title : First Comes Like
Author : Alisha Rai
Series : Modern Love #3
Narrator : Priya Ayyar & Neil Shah
Format : Audiobook
Length : 6 hours, 30 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Harper Audio
Release Date : February 16, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

First Comes Like was the clashing of two people, two cultures, two faiths, all in a romantic context. It was ambitious plan that worked. Added to this was a faux-mance storyline, catfishing, fame and fortune. I thought it was a clever plot.

I don’t think I’ve read a Hindu/Muslim romance before (probably shame on me for not searching this out) but it was nice to see and interesting to read this level of heat in that context. Alisha Rai executed this with careful handling and sensitivity to the protagonist Jia’s beliefs (I think, but I can’t currently see any own voice reviews and I’m interested in their take on this). I’ve been waiting for Jia’s story for rather a long time, since she was introduced in a previous series by the author.

There was a lot less of the three friends living together in this instalment which I missed. I essentially liked both the characters but I didn’t always feel their chemistry. The plot line was predictable but still good.

The narration was enjoyable in the main, I liked both narrators but didn’t enjoy when Dev’s character did Jia’s dialogue, his female intonation really didn’t work for me. I also wanted to feel a bit more from Dev’s character but in some ways, he was a little emotionally rusty and that facet was part of his development in the story.

This series has been generally enjoyable for me and while this one didn’t blow me away, I still appreciated the journey and especially the cross of cultures and faiths.

Please check out some own voice review on this book.

Thank you to LibroFM and Harper Audio for the early audio copy.

YOU DESERVE EACH OTHER by Sarah Hogle

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.


Title : You Deserve Each Other
Author : Sarah Hogle
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus, Little Brown UK
Release Date : February 11, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Snicker, giggle, howl on the regular
War of the Roses
Hate to love has never been so sweet

I burnt the midnight oil to finish this one because I just could not leave it with a few chapters left. You Deserve Each Other was unputdownable and so very satisfying. It brought beautiful escapism to my life, with light and deep in equal parts.

I adored the two main characters, Nicholas and Naomi and I even loved reading about the evil mother-in-law to be. Nicholas was such an awful mother’s boy, it was both hard and incredibly funny to read those aspects. Naomi eventually made use of this part of his life and character to wage a war of the Roses.

I have an abundance of odious fiance. How am I going to get rid of him? I cannot marry this mama’s boy.

The house move brought unexpected fun to the story. I didn’t see where that was going until after but I really loved visualising their house, the land and the pond. The pond <insert many laughing emojis here, winky face>.

The read came with lows and highs and the highs were often accompanied by my snigger-snort. The escapades these two went to, to get the other to dislike them while in reality chemistry was building. This was sloooow-burn territory folks, so buckle in for some delayed sparks.

Expect high jinks, hate and love in percentages and a crescendo of feelings. Also, plan this read in for a full day of uninterruption or you will end up like me, staying up on a school night and sporting matchstick eyes the next morning. Either way, you won’t regret it.

Thank you to Piatkus, Little Brown UK for the review copy. 

MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU by Samantha Young

The cozy comforts of an English village bookstore open up a world of new possibilities for Evie Starling in this charming new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young.

At thirty-three-years old Evangeline Starling’s life in Chicago is missing that special something. And when she’s passed over for promotion at work, Evie realizes she needs to make a change. Some time away to regain perspective might be just the thing. In a burst of impulsivity, she plans a holiday in a quaint English village. The holiday package comes with a temporary position at Much Ado About Books, the bookstore located beneath her rental apartment. There’s no better dream vacation for the bookish Evie, a life-long Shakespeare lover.

Not only is Evie swept up in running the delightful store as soon as she arrives, she’s drawn into the lives, loves and drama of the friendly villagers. Including Roane Robson, the charismatic and sexy farmer who tempts Evie every day with his friendly flirtations. Evie is determined to keep him at bay because a holiday romance can only end in heartbreak, right? But Evie can’t deny their connection and longs to trust in her handsome farmer that their whirlwind romance could turn in to the forever kind of love.


Title : Much Ado About You
Author : Samantha Young
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus, Little Brown UK/Berkley
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★. 5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
American meets Brit on north-east coast of England
Small village
Farmer Roane
Chem-is-try
Bookshop & books
Shakespearean side-plot line
No dramarama

Reading Much Ado About You was one of those easy delights that your mind sinks into and wishes it to last. The writing was witty, started with a hilarious car-crash dating experience and featured a 30-something heroine (Evie) who was pretty relatable.

Evie’s story was about taking stock of her life, her work situation, love life and coming to terms with single-dom. On a whim, she travelled and rented out a bookshop for a month’s holiday which is just about every bookworm’s dream. She quickly bumped into Roane’s dog, Shadow and was embraced into village life. The people around Evie and Roane, local farmer, were rich, colourful and had lots of character. Roane himself was genuine and that kind good guy that I like reading about.

Becoming friends with an English farmer was definitely a new experience. Who cared if he could grace the front cover of “The World’s Hottest Farmers” calender?

This book had a great, low drama story and I really appreciated the lack of predictability in that aspect and not being dragged through a roller coaster relationship; still, it wasn’t plain sailing.

The story was told over a number of months and for some that might seem quick for a relationship to develop, but this was a relationship based on a genuine friendship connection. The way the relationship was told made me truly believe in the time frame for more to develop. I loved these two together, I wanted them to work and I enjoyed the slow burn of their attachment.

I can see myself re-reading this and recommending it for a great easy romance that delivers on plot and characterisation. Go check it out!

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

THE OFFICE PARTY by Whitney G

I can’t believe that I pulled my boss’s name for our company’s annual Secret Santa tradition…

As the devil incarnate, this infuriating, cocky bastard never gives us the holidays off, and he honestly expects us to be grateful for his generous alternative: The Office Party.

It’s a mandatory, all-expenses trip for two weeks at a surprise luxury resort—where we still have to work twelve to fifteen hours a day.

I’m so over this…

So, I put zero percent effort into his gift. I tear the tag off whatever my sister gifts me, add a five-dollar amazon gift card, and hand it off to him.

It’s not until my sister sends me a text that I realize how terrible of a decision that was.

If that’s not bad enough, this year’s “luxury trip” will be in my hometown–the place I’ve avoided for years. At the resort that my grandmother owns…

If the universe gets me out of this, I will never ‘regift’ anything ever again… 


Title : The Office Party
Author : Whitney G
Format : eARC
Page Count : 117
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : WGW Books/Indie
Release Date : December 18, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

This short Christmas steamy novella was classic Whitney G and it was perfect for a one-sitting with a cup of something and a snack. It gave all the hate-to-more, heat and Christmassy vibes all in one and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The male MC was the boss and his top executive was the female MC, Savannah. I was glad that the boss was less of an a-hole than many of her books and the pretend hate was just a load of fun. Savannah ended up pulling her boss’ name in the secret santa.

Whoever pulls Mr West’s name in the Secret Santa game this year, can you please gift him ten hours of psychological therapy? Then again, can we all pitch in for that anyway?

I would love to see Whitney G do a little role reversal in future books where the female is in a position of power rather than the hero. I like her brand of characters but I’d also like to see some variety on occasion.

So go forth and make your afternoon or evening’s free time with this short gem to get you into the season.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS by Robyn Carr

A Christmas Miracle in Virgin River

Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life, and gave her three more years with him. Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby to safety in Fallujah four years ago then disappeared. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

When Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River she finds a man haunted by his past and afraid to look to his future. Not easily scared off Marcie pushes her way into Ian’s reclusive life to see beyond his pain to the man he once was. The man he can be again.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young woman who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.


Title : A Virgin River Christmas
Author : Robyn Carr
Series : Virgin River #4
Format : eARC
Page Count : 296
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Mills & Boon
Release Date : November 1, 2011

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I have a happy sigh over here because I am the worst to please when it comes to Christmas stories; they rarely work for me. I knew this one had a chance because I’ve become a fan of this series, both book and TV.

What was fabulous about this Christmas story was that the Virgin River characters were very in the background and the main characters were two new recruits to the series. This story was very focused around marine (combat) experiences which fit with Jack and Preacher’s legacy well.

Marcie was a widow of a marine searching for the best friend and Sargeant of her late husband. Ian was that man but really he was a wild bear of man, nomading in the wilderness, in a very sparse cabin. Their story was just beautiful and their forced proximity was aided by flu, snow, Doc and Mel. Marcie won me over with her determination and big heart.

There was a scene in the book where Marcie recounted her late husband’s death and I had quiet tears just dripping down. This book truly had all the feels. I really hope that these two characters will feature further in the series because I am such a fan.

Thank you to Mills & Boon for the review copy to fit with the season.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND by Natalie Normann

Cosy up in front of a fire and discover Christmas the Norwegian way…full of romance, cosy traditions and hygge!

In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.


Title : Christmas Island
Author : Natalie Normann
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 340
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : One More Chapter
Release Date : November 30, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

The idea of Christmas Island hit all the seasonal buttons for me and in November, I find I’m primed ready for a Christmas read. I’m also a Norwegian descendant, so that all added into my buzz for this read.

Christmas Island was a very low-key, low-drama tale, set on a wet and somewhat uninspiring island off the coast of Norway. This was the story of Holly, an English doctor escaping a work issue and coming for the season to her brother’s house. The hero of this piece was Tor, a hermit-come-introvert with a wild cat. All the potential was there for this couple but I felt zero connection or chemistry to them or betweeen them and that made me super disappointed.

The meet-cute in this book happened immediately in the book and it was the best thing about the story, so once that element was over, everything afterwards felt anti-climatic. The plot was very meandering and lacking in excitement.

I felt disappointed by the setting for the book. There was a fair bit of emphasis about the bleakness of the setting and it didn’t inspire that lovely Norwegian Christmassy feel I was seeking.

So overall, you can see how this book didn’t work for me. I wanted more plot, more couple-connection and a more of a sense of seasonal warmth. Hopefully it’ll work more for others than for me.

Thank you to One More Chapter for the early review copy.