Series Review: Dearest (Lex Martin)

One of my goals for 2021 is to read some of the books that have been hiding in the depths of my Kindle for years. I decided to start things off with Dearest Clementine. I had no idea at the time that it would turn into a series binge. Here are my mini reviews for the Dearest series.

Dearest Clementine
Series: Dearest, #1
Author: Lex Martin
Publication Date: April 17, 2014
Publisher: Lex Martin
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Dearest Clementine might have been written in 2014, but six years later it doesn’t feel dated. It was a classic new adult romance set in college. I was immediately addicted to the story. There was a little bit of angst, a sweet romance, and an air mystery. Clementine was a broken character, but not annoyingly so. She opened up and learned a lot in this book. Gavin as her love interest was perfection. The friendships and side characters added even more fun to the book. I’m mad at myself for waiting so long to read Dearest Clementine!

Finding Dandelion
Series: Dearest, #2
Author: Lex Martin
Publication Date: July 9, 2014
Publisher: Lex Martin
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts:

Finding Dandelion didn’t start out on the best foot with me. This book is Clementine’s twin brother Jax’s book. His love interest is her newest roommate, Dani. At the beginning, before they are together, Jax’s promiscuous ways are highlighted. Honestly, I would have preferred to keep things on a tell rather than show way with that. Jax also continued to be an idiot throughout most of the book for different reasons. That being said, I LOVED Dani. Her story was fun to read. When Jax wasn’t being a turd, I thought the two of them were adorable together.

Kissing Madeline
Series: Dearest, #3
Author: Lex Martin
Publication Date: April 26, 2015
Publisher: Lex Martin
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Never did I think I would want a redemption book for Clementine’s high school ex Daren, but I’m glad I got one. It was the most mature of the three romances, and I could see how Martin’s writing grew from her debut to this book. Daren had definitely grown up and matured. I loved that he could look back at his younger years, see his mistakes, and own them. Maddie was a young woman who knew her worth and fought hard for what she wanted. I adored Daren and Maddie together. How they fell into love felt like a natural transition. All of the drama that happened in this book kept it moving quickly, too. It was a fun read — especially with that epilogue!

Review: Roommate (Sarina Bowen)

Roommate
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: January 12, 2020
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:
Wanted: One roommate to share a 3-bedroom house, split the rent, and ideally not be the guy I can’t stop thinking about.
I’m a man with too many secrets, so the last thing I need is a new roommate with a sexy smile and blue eyes that see right through me. Eight years ago, Roderick left town after high school. We’re not friends. I owe him nothing. But back then, I let one of my secrets slip, and he’s the only one who noticed.
Part of me knows I should run far, far away. But the other part wants him to come upstairs and spend the night. But if I let him in, I could lose everything.

Seeking: A room to rent in town. I’m tidy, have no pets, and I will feed you homemade bread.
I should probably add: Gay AF, and has no filter. It’s no wonder my new landlord is so wary of me.
A smarter man would ignore those hot glances from Kieran Shipley. The broody lumberjack wants more from me than another homemade pretzel, but if I push my luck, I’ll end up back on the street.
Too bad I’ve never been smart with my heart …


Being back in Vermont and on the Shipley farm was a pleasure. It’s a place where Sarina Bowen’s writing shines. (Although, it shines in all her settings.) In Roommate, we got to see another side to the Shipleys and farming. This time it was a Shipley cousin who gets a story.

Kieran Shipley was my favorite type of Sarina Bowen character: a little gruff, a lot quiet. Behind those qualities was a man who was loyal to his family despite their actions and a good friend. Kieran was someone who was searching for his place in the world, but tried to do it without ruffling anyone’s feathers. I immediately liked him and wanted him to end up happy.

The newcomer to this small Vermont town was Roderick. Roddy had once lived nearby, but had left to pursue his calling. Now he’s back, broke, and looking to start all over. Roddy’s character was a lot more upfront and comfortable with his sexual orientation than some of Bowen’s previous MM couples. I think he might be Bowen’s first openly gay character, and it took me a while to get used to that in terms of what I’ve been used to in the MM romances she’s told before. I liked that she went this direction. It made Kieran and Roddy’s story standout from her other MM romances. There were some of the same aspects in relation to Kieran’s story compared to her others, but Roddy’s was all his own.

Kieran and Roddy had a sweet romance. It was almost a slow burn. Their attraction and relationship built naturally. They took their time getting to know each other as roommates and co-workers before moving onto anything romantic. That worked well for both Kieran and Roddy’s histories.

One of the things that made Roommate fun was seeing those Shipleys and friends from past True North books. Kieran’s branch of the family was a new experience, but I loved how Griffin, Audrey, and Zara framed Kieran’s life. I loved their reactions to Kieran and Roddy. That being said, this book is a standalone and can be read without reading the True North series.

Kieran’s immediate family members weren’t my favorite. I had a feeling why and it was proven correct. I didn’t have much respect for them. That didn’t really change by the end, sadly. There were some things I appreciated about them, but they kind of just sucked.

I’m so glad Sarina Bowen took us back to the True North world with Roommate. It was a special story and it deserved this magical setting. I loved how it was inundated with old characters who surrounded the new characters with love and acceptance. It was a joy to read.

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Review: A Righteous Man (Jay Crownover)

A Righteous Man
Author: Jay Crownover
Publication Date: December 27, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Salinger Dolan.
You know his name.
You’ve seen his face.
You’ve spent money on the endless amount of useless crap he endorses.
Of course, you’ve heard the stories.
You know the ones…The one that claimed he was hard to work with and totally unprofessional on set.
The one where he got caught doing drugs on the set of the most popular, family-friendly show in America.The one where he ruined the reputation—and career—of America’s sweetheart.
There’s more truth to those stories than his fans want to believe because Salinger is the kind of thoughtless, careless, dangerous Hollywood bad boy the paparazzi and fame-hungry starlets can’t get enough of.
Eventually, the shine of his flashy lifestyle started to fade, and Salinger realized the only thing he’s famous for nowadays is his bad behavior and well-documented struggle with addiction.
The former golden boy is beyond tarnished, and the only person who can help him get his glow back is the one woman who wants absolutely nothing to do with him.

Maren Copeland.
You might recall her name.
It’s possible you vaguely remember her face.
You’re probably wondering where she went. After all, you’ve heard the stories…The one where she exposed Salinger Dolan’s drug use all those years ago.
The one that said she tried to ruin his career because she was envious of his popularity.
The one about how she went from being everyone’s favorite to a pariah overnight.
Maren Copeland is now known as the comeback queen. After years of hard work and purposely avoiding entanglements with problematic heartthrobs like her first co-star, she’s on track to revitalize her career and rearrange her priorities after a very messy and very public divorce.
For the first time in both her professional and personal life, she’s the one calling all the shots.
Unfortunately, the path to get her where she wants to be leads directly to none other than Salinger Dolan.
He’s the one and the only person she swore she would never work with again.
Once upon a time, he cost her everything. He’s back to make amends and promised to give her anything she wants if she’ll just give him a chance to prove he’s grown up.
She doesn’t trust him.
She knows she’d be a fool to believe he’s changed.
After all, what are the odds that a spoiled, entitled brat like Salinger Dolan could become a righteous man?


A Righteous Man is exactly the type of book I’m hoping for when I pick up a book by Jay Crownover. It was the same as the books I love from her, but different. Her writing captured me from the beginning right along with Maren and Salinger’s story.

Maren and Salinger were an unlikely couple that came together perfectly. It wasn’t that Maren was significantly older than Salinger. She was, but that was backseat to their sordid history. Salinger had basically ruined her life at one point. I don’t know that I would have been able to leave it all in the past the way Maren did. I was impressed by the range of emotions she went through to come to terms with everything she had been through and would go through. 

Salinger was a force. He was capable of doing bad, but luckily had the support to make changes for the good. Salinger’s recovery from drug addiction was something he fought daily and I liked how that was portrayed. I enjoyed his pursuing of Maren and especially his need to apologize and redeem himself in her eyes.

This romance could have been super angsty and depressing, but thankfully that wasn’t what Crownover wanted to deliver. It was a beautiful, sweet, and fun romance. It’s going on my list of favorite books from Jay Crownover because of all of that. I loved what she did with Maren and Salinger, and I would love for her to give us another romance in this world. (Jeno and Arrow…hint, hint.) 

Review: The Strike Out (Meghan Quinn)

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The Strike Out
Author: Meghan Quinn
Publication Date: January 4, 2021
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

It started with one night out with the boys.

She was the hot diner waitress putting herself through school.

I was the rich, arrogant player everyone misjudges.

On paper we didn’t match.

Yet all it took was one day. One single day to change her mind.

She wasn’t planning to spend her day off with me.

She wasn’t supposed to fall for my charm.

But one day, one smile, turned into several nights of her calling out my name.

I’m not the guy she should end up with. I’m jealous, possessive. Not here for a long time – just a good time.

She’s changed me.

But, for some reason, I feel her slipping through my fingers and no matter what I do, I fear I’m going to strike out with the one and only girl I’ve ever fallen for.


FINALLY! It’s Holt’s book! The one I’ve been waiting for since the Team Player 2 Anthology came out and teased me with it. I can honestly say it was well worth the wait.

Holt was everything I remembered him being based on that novella. He was funny in an inappropriate way at times, but he was loyal, sweet, and all in with Harmony. Holt was constantly making me crack up one moment and then swoon the next. He’s one of my new favorite MQ heroes.

Harmony was skeptical of Holt and had every reason to be. I loved how she didn’t immediately fall for him and gave him something to chase. I want to say more about her character, but it would give too much away about the plot. I’ll just leave Harmony with I liked her for Holt. A lot.

Holt and Harmony had an entertaining relationship road. I loved the way they got to know each other and how their story progressed. I fell completely in love with them as a couple. This book could have been longer and I wouldn’t have complained at all. There was one moment in the book where I got whiplash. I had to go back and reread the last chapter to see if I missed anything because I didn’t see the twist coming. I was maybe kind of expecting it, but then I wasn’t. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I felt like a scene was missing. The information was quickly there with it being told, but I would have loved to have see if play out in real (book) time.

The Strike Out was another Meghan Quinn hit. It fit this baseball series perfectly. I loved being back at Brentwood, seeing some old faces (Carson, Knox, Jason…to name a few). It was just such a feel good read.

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Series Review: VIP (Kristen Callihan)

Earlier this year, I binged the Game On series. It was my first time reading Kristen Callihan’s writing and I fell quickly in love with it. I knew that I wanted to binge her VIP series. I’m so excited to have finally been able to do that and share my mini reviews of each book with you.

Idol
Series: VIP, #1
Author: Kristen Callihan
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Plain Jane Books
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts:

Idol pulled me in right from the beginning. I expected no less from Kristen Callihan’s writing, but it was still a pleasant surprise since so many rock star feel the same. Idol stood out. I loved the emotional connection between Killian and Liberty. It wasn’t just all about the music, and that gave them a stronger base — especially since they also had sizzling chemistry. The whole story was fun to read and I couldn’t wait to keep reading about the Kill John guys.

 Managed
Series: VIP, #2
Author: Kristen Callihan
Publication Date: November 14, 2016
Publisher: Plain Jane Books
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I was surprised the second book in this series was about the band manager, Scottie, and not one of the musicians from Kill John. That surprise quickly turned to happiness because Managed was EVERYTHING. I LOVED the way Sophie and Scottie’s story started out. It had me smiling so much. Things only got better from there. The proposal Scottie had for Sophie was sweet in a way and it melted my heart. I loved them together. I couldn’t get enough of this book.

Fall
Series: VIP, #2
Author: Kristen Callihan
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Plain Jane Books
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts:

Fall had a lot to live up to after reading Managed. It wasn’t quite as good in my opinion, but I still loved it. I liked getting to know Jax/John better and understanding his attitude and struggles with depression. I loved the brightness Stella helped bring to his life. She was the light to this story despite her own set of problems. John and Stella were a great couple.

Overall thoughts:

I loved the VIP series every bit as much as I loved Kristen Callihan’s Game On series. I’m so sad that there isn’t another book out yet. I am so curious about Rye and Brenna’s story! I also want to know more about Whip!

Review: You Have a Match (Emma Lord)

You Have a Match
Author: Emma Lord
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the beloved author of Tweet Cute comes Emma Lord’s You Have a Match, a YA novel of family, friendship, romance and sisterhood…

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.


This was a weird reading experience for me. I think it might have been my mood. When I started this book, I was really into the writing and the story. The whole finding a sister through DNA intrigued me. It kind of lost me after a while, though. Like I said, I’m not sure if I fell out of the mood of wanting this type of story or if I got bored in the middle. It picked up once everything major went down. I liked learning about Abby and Savannah’s parents and their decisions. I wouldn’t have minded hearing even more about everything that went down with in the past. That was probably what I was most interested in. It made the story end on a high note for me. I liked the lessons Abby learned.

Review: The Office Party (Whitney G.)

The Office Party
Author: Whitney G.
Publication Date: December 18, 2020
Publisher: WGW Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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.

Georgia: Why haven’t you sent me a ‘LOL’ about the brand-new vibrator I got you? I really do hope that you use your boss’s face as a muse, like my note says. 🙂

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…


Once again, Whitney G. has graced us with an incredibly entertaining holiday romance. This novella was so sassy and fun! It made me smile and laugh on more than one occasion — which is impressive since I read this book in one sitting. I loved the evil boss vibe Garrett had going on and the way Savannah reacted to him. I loved all the texts, emails, and chats that were included along with both Garrett and Savannah’s POVs. The whole “regifting” thing was plain awkward, but it made the story move from funny to fire. These two had amazing chemistry!

The Office Party is the office/enemies to more trope Whitney G. does best. It worked well a novella, but could have been fleshed out even more to be a more in depth story. I didn’t necessarily need that for it to be a better book, I just wouldn’t have minded more time with workaholics Garrett and Savannah. I”m greedy like that. The Office Party is a fun, flirty holiday romance that’s sure to keep you warm this winter holiday season.

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Review: The Relationship Pact (Adriana Locke)

The Relationship Pact
Series: Kings of Football, #3
Author: Adriana Locke
Publication Date: December 17, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

How hard can it be?

That was the question rolling around Larissa Mason’s mind just before she asked Hollis Hudson to be her fake boyfriend.

It was only supposed to be for five minutes, after all.

Granted, that was also before she felt his hand on the small of her back as he charmed the heck out of her family.

She hadn’t heard his laugh yet either.

And it was definitely before she saw the football god shirtless. Otherwise, she would’ve had an idea of just how hard some things could be.

It turns out that pretending to be in love with a crazily handsome, somewhat enigmatic, and absolutely unforgettable tight end (that has an amazing tight end) is easy.

Reminding herself that just because opposites attract doesn’t mean they’re forever is much harder.

What they have isn’t love—it’s a relationship pact. Right?


This fake relationship romance had my hear aflutter. Hollis and Larissa had reasons for a fake relationship and avoiding real relationships, but their connection blew that to pieces. They clicked emotionally from the start. Hollis was deeply scarred emotionally from his past. Larissa had a distrust of athletes. Together they worked through those things. I loved how they knew when to push each other and when to pull back.

One of my favorite things about this book were all the side characters. I loved how they impacted both Hollis and Larissa, but especially Hollis. They were all a great support system and added a special element to the story. This is my first complete book by Locke, and meeting some of these characters made me want to read their stories.

The Relationship Pact was truly a sweet romance where I loved every minute of it. The only thing keeping my from giving it a full 5 stars was the final epilogue. I needed more answers for Hollis than I got. I know they weren’t necessarily important for Hollis and Larissa’s romance, but I wanted to know to fully wrap up his side of the story. Other than that, this romance was perfection for me.

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    About the Author:
USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author Adriana Locke lives and breathes books. After years of slightly obsessive relationships with the flawed bad boys created by other authors, Adriana has created her own. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, sons, and two dogs. She spends a large amount of time playing with her kids, drinking coffee, and cooking. You can find her outside if the weather’s nice and there’s always a piece of candy in her pocket.

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Review: The Romantic Pact (Meghan Quinn)

The Romantic Pact
Series: Kings of Football, #2
Author: Meghan Quinn
Publication Date: December 10, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I haven’t seen her in three years.

I haven’t talked to her since the kiss.

So why am I on a plane, flying across the world to spend a week with her in Germany?

One word: Pops.

My life’s a mess.

My possible football career is hanging on by a thread.

I’m driving the roads of Germany in honor of Pops with the one girl I can never have.

And I’m sharing a bed with her, the girl I’ve measured everyone else up to, while desperately trying to not to touch her.

We made a pact growing up, never to get romantic with each other – never fall in love.

And I’m about to break that pact. For good. 


Only Meghan Quinn could write a book about dealing with the loss of a beloved grandparent and getting a second chance with a childhood friend/crush like The Romantic Pact. Somehow it ended up being both touching and hilarious. I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh at times. It was magical.

The Romantic Pact is a holiday romance set along The Romantic Road in Germany. It’s not always easy to visualize settings I haven’t been to or seen before, but Meghan Quinn brought Germany to life for me. Every stop had a special sentimental quality to it that added to the experience. I ached for Crew and Hazel as they revisited Bernie’s path, but also grew happier for them with each moment they spent with each other.

Crew and Hazel were such different people. Crew was all about football, while Hazel was all about his grandfather’s farm. I loved each of their characters for a different reason. They almost wouldn’t seem like they would be a good fit, but their personalities meshed so well. I adored their easy banter and friendship while getting caught up in their chemistry.

What I loved most about this book was everything. Yes, everything. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t love. It was the magical setting, Bernie’s involvement in everything, the romance and friendship between Crew and Hazel. Heck, it was even the biggest problem they faced and how it resolved. All of it was simply perfect. A+ to Meghan Quinn for giving us such a unique and special holiday romance novel.

    

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About Meghan Quinn:
USA Today Bestselling Author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. Author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.

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Review: The Pass (Rebecca Jenshak)

The Pass
Series: Smart Jocks, #5
Author: Rebecca Jenshak
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

I’ve been in love with her for two years.

The first time around, I screwed things up. I hesitated and the moment was gone.

I passed when I shouldn’t have.

Not a total loss. I gained a best friend instead of whatever we might have been.

Sydney is hands down the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’ll do anything to keep her in my life. Even bury my feelings deep inside.

But one hot summer together at the lake filled with lots of teeny-tiny bikinis and I’m ready to risk it all for a second chance.

It’s time to take my shot.

(This is Shaw and Sydney’s story!)


As best friends to more books go, this one is a new favorite of mine. It was just so stinking cute and fun and sweet and everything I needed a contemporary romance to be at this moment. I liked how it started off (even if it did frustrate me a bit) with the missed possibility of Sydney and Tanner hooking up and then being locked into friendship. I loved their friendship first and foremost, and it made the switch to romantic relationship all the more fun. The lake house setting was perfect and made me crave summer. There wasn’t a ton of sports in this sports romance because summer break, but I did love that Sydney and Tanner were both collegiate athletes with a lot to think about going into their senior year.

The only thing I didn’t like in this book was Tanner’s sister, Tara. She was a witch and never quite redeemed herself to me. There wasn’t much drama for Sydney and Tanner other than what Tara created. That was a good thing in my quest for an angst free contemporary romance, but also left a bad taste where Tara was concerned. Her only road to redemption in my mind is a book of her own where she wins me over. Other than how mad Tara made me, The Pass was sweet best friends to more perfection. I’m so happy Rebecca Jenshak decided four books just weren’t enough for this series. I won’t complain if more than five are needed.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐚𝐬𝐬 𝐛𝐲 𝐑𝐞𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐜𝐚 𝐉𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐤 𝐢𝐬 𝐋𝐈𝐕𝐄!! 

Rebecca Jenshak is a self-proclaimed margarita addict, college basketball fanatic, and Hallmark channel devotee. A Midwest native transplanted to the desert, she likes being outdoors (drinking on patios) and singing (in the shower) when she isn’t writing books about hot guys and the girls who love them.

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