Review: With You All the Way (Cynthia Hand)

With You All the Way
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

A Forever for a new generation. Fans of Sarah Dessen , Jenny Han, and Nina LaCour will devour this exploration of family relationships, romantic relationships, and everything in between from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Ada’s sick of being the invisible good girl in her family. She’s just caught her boyfriend cheating on her after she said she wasn’t ready for sex, and she’s had it up to here with her perfect, beautiful older sister trying to give her advice, especially when that advice includes staying a virgin until she’s truly in love.

But all of that pales in comparison to what Ada discovers when her mom drags them to Hawaii for an annual surgeons’ conference: her mom is having an affair. Just like that, Ada’s whole world comes crashing down, all because it seems like no one can stop themselves from falling into bed with people they shouldn’t.

So Ada decides it’s time for her to do just that, and get sex over with. But what she thinks is one of her best laid plans doesn’t actually leave room for the truth: That feelings, romantic or not, always get in the way.


The How and the Why was one of my favorite books I read in 2019. I loved Cynthia Hand’s writing style, so I couldn’t wait to read With You All the Way.  These two books have proven to me that Hand is a master of creating and writing complex family dramas. She tackles family dynamics in a fascinating way. This book was completely different than the first one I had read, but just as important and addictive.

With You All the Way was like driving by a car crash. Maybe that’s not the best description because it wasn’t brutal or sad. It was more just drama I couldn’t take my eyes away from. It reminded me of a really good MTV teenage TV drama. Ada, the main character, is on a family trip to Hawaii after having broken up with her no good, cheating ex. Her feelings are all over the place. She’s fighting with her perfect sister and discovers her mom is having an affair. Everything is a mess and Ada’s trying to work through it all. Somehow, having sex for the first time is the answer.

I’m going to cut right to the chase: sex. It’s one of the biggest topics woven through With You All the Way.  Ada is considering having it or not having it throughout the entire book. You can imagine all the possible scenarios going through Ada’s mind. Should she or shouldn’t she have it? I appreciated all of her inner dialog and questions in relations to what her body versus mind was telling her. I also appreciated the way it was dealt with and the conversations it opened up. It was a very positively written view of what having sex with or without love could mean.

I mentioned the family dynamics before. That’s the other big topic in this book. There’s so much going on between all of the family members. There is talking, arguing, keeping secrets… Each and every family member (besides sweet, little Abby) has their own thing going on. I liked the way each interaction created something to further Ada’s choices throughout the story.

I don’t know what else to say about this book. I enjoyed it so much — even the awkward moments when I wanted to shield my eyes. I loved the non-stop drama. I guessed where the story was headed, but that didn’t bug me because the journey to get there was so entertaining. Plus, I liked all the messages it dealt.

Review: Love at First (Kate Clayborn)

Love at First
Author: Kate Clayborn
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From Kate Clayborn, the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, comes a sparkling, tender novel about bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love . . .

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw–or rather, heard–the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting–maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .
 


What a delightful slow burn romance! Everything about Love at First was charming. I loved the enemies vibe it gave off from the beginning. I could feel the spark Will and Nora had through the tension from the moment they met. All the ways Nora tried to fight Will’s determination to rent out his apartment were clever and entertaining. I loved seeing how their attraction turned to more despite their difference of opinion on the apartment. Once it grew from enemies to more, I fell even more in love with the story. Will and Nora were so good together!

I also loved all the side characters. Nora’s “family” was hilarious. Each apartment owner had such a distinct personality that added so much to the story. Same with Will’s doctor friend and his ex-wife. I loved how well they all fit into the story and made Nora and Will stronger characters.

There wasn’t anything I didn’t love about this book. Kate Clayton is one of my new-to-me favorite authors of 2020. I instantly fell in love with her writing in Love Lettering and it became even stronger with Love at First. I would highly recommend this book to romance fans.

Review: The Ex Talk (Rachel Lynn Solomon)

The Ex Talk
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.


I had a hard time figuring out my feelings about The Ex Talk. There were things I really loved about it, but the things I didn’t nagged at me. Here is what I loved and what I didn’t about this book.

What I loved:

  • The Seattle vibe. A lot of the times books set in Seattle focus too much on the well known landmarks and not on the actual vibe the city and the people have. The Ex Talk hit the vibe spot on.
  • The enemies to lovers trope. The banter was real, people. So was Shay and Dominic’s chemistry. I loved it!
  • The public radio thing. I liked both the setting part and The Ex Talk show itself.
  • Shay’s reactions to the conflicts she encountered.
  • The evolution of all the different types of relationships Shay had.
  • Overall, the writing was very good.

What I didn’t love:

  • The whole lying about being exes for the radio thing. That ethical conflict bugged the heck out of me, even if it made for an interesting story.
  • There was a section of the book from 15% to about 30% that I had to push myself to keep reading. I don’t know what was up with the section. Maybe too much set up toward the plot? All I know is that once I got back on track at 30%, things flew again for me.
  • Shay was annoying at time. She could be very self-centered.

Honestly, I think if things hadn’t gotten slow for me for a chunk of this book, I might have rated it higher even if I didn’t love everything about it. It was a good, unique book.

Review: Swoony Billionaire: The Kline Brooks Collection (Max Monroe)

Swoony Billionaire: The Kline Brooks Collection
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys
Authors: Max Monroe
Publication Date: January 31, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

Meet the swooniest billionaire of all time in one awesome and hilarious romantic comedy collection (all for the price of one novella, too!)

This collection includes the following three books:
*New York Times bestseller Tapping the Billionaire
*Tapping Her
*And a BRAND-NEW novella, Be My Billionaire Valentine

This is the perfect indulgence for new and old readers alike!

A favorite book boyfriend of all time, Kline Brooks sets a different kind of standard.

If you’re the type of woman that prefers crotch selfies to small talk, this hero isn’t for you.

If you HATE laughing, this hero isn’t for you.

If you want your male leads to grunt, thrust like jack rabbits, and have one-track minds that prefer a nice pair of t*ts to brains every hour of every day for the rest of forever, well…then, this hero still isn’t for you.

But.

If you enjoy a good swoon, a hearty laugh, witty banter, some hot as f*@% f*@%ing, and an awesome HEA, then dive into this collection and never come up for air.

Kline Brooks isn’t the kind of man you regret. 


If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kline Brooks and Georgia Cummings, you are missing out. I have been a fan of their books and the Billionaire Bad Boys series for years now. When I saw they were releasing the series in collections for each couple, I knew this would benefit readers who hadn’t yet read the books. That’s because this collection combines Tapping the Billionaire (Billionaire Bad Boys, #1) and the novella Tapping Her (Billionaire Bad Boys, #1.5) all in one place for one cost. As an added bonus, you get the brand new novella Be My Valentine along with them!

That’s really what I’m here to review — Be My Valentine. This novella was so much fun!!! It took us back to the early-ish days of Kline and Georgie, after Tapping Her. I loved their attempted Valentine’s Day celebration. I laughed so hard! (I mean, how can you NOT when Thatch is involved?) I also swooned hard, too. Kline is probably the sweetest of the Billionaire Bad Boys and it came across well here. The novella was a great addition to Kline and Georgia’s story.

If you’re new to this series and are curious about Kline and Georgie and what I thought of the rest of this collection, here is a link to my reviews for Tapping the Billionaire.

Series Review: In the Company of Killers (J.A. Redmerski)

I have mini reviews for the In the Company of Killers series for you today. This series isn’t for everyone. It’s dark, violent, angsty, and suspenseful. I would say it’s rated R. I would caution potential readers that it is truly dark with many, many trigger warnings. It’s about a woman who breaks free from a Mexican drug and sex trafficking ring with help of an assassin, if that explains a bit. Every character in messed up in a deeply disturbing way.

Killing Sarai
Series: In the Company of Killers, #1
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: June 8, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I’ve had Killing Sarai on my Kindle for years because friends raved about it. I’ve put off reading it for two reasons: 1. The series is SEVEN books long and 2. It’s super dark. Sarai escapes a Mexican drug lord who has abused her for years and ends up in the hands of professional killer Victor. This isn’t a love story between Sarai and Victor (as much as I might have wanted it to be), but a thrilling ride of violence and death to those who deserve it most. Killing Sarai was intense and addictive. I didn’t want to put it down, but was also scared to find out what came next. I wouldn’t say I loved reading it because it was torture in some ways. I guess all I can say is that I’m committed to reading at least the second book. (Let’s be real — I’ll end up reading the entire series.)

Reviving Izabel
Series: In the Company of Killers, #2
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: December 4, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Not going to lie. I thought I might take a break in between Killing Sarai and this book, but I couldn’t. I HAD to know what was going to happen to Sarai and Victor after the ending of the first book. Reviving Izabel surprised me in ways only the Nine Minute Trilogy by Beth Flynn has. Twists and turns came out of nowhere. When Victor warned Sarai not to trust anyone, I think he was really speaking to the reader. Man! This book was intense and blew my mind. I’m scared to find out what comes next in the third book, which is bound to be even darker since it is about their friend(?) Fredrik.

The Swan & the Jackal
Series: In the Company of Killers, #3
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: March 3, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Once again, MIND BLOWN. I was warned The Swan & the Jackal was darker than the first two books, but I don’t know that I was prepared for Fredrik. I don’t think anyone could actually be prepared for him or what he was willing to do to find Seraphina. Dude was disturbed. Knowing the reasons behind his actions… Well, that was just heartbreaking with a side of nauseating. Fredrik is one of those characters I knew I shouldn’t love, but can’t help it because he’s more vulnerable than I expected. So, yeah. Shock and awe with this third installment. How will J.A. Redmerski ever be able to keep the surprises coming?

Seeds of Inequity
Series: In the Company of Killers, #4
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: September 25, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Seeds of Inequity is probably my favorite book in the series so far. It wasn’t quite as shocking as some of the other books — even if my mind was blown on more than one occasion while reading it. What I loved so much about it was the levity it brought to the series. Even while it was being dark and twisted, it managed to be humorous at times. The addition of Nora’s character was so smart. She really got in everyone’s heads and put the team through some stuff. I loved how that changed some dynamics. It’s going to be very interesting to find out where things go after this book. It was a game changer.

The Black Wolf
Series: In the Company of Killers, #5
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I took a break in between books 4 and 5 because I had to read an ARC, but I couldn’t wait to get back to this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t immediately pull me in. It wasn’t until about half way through when the story ramped up and I became more interested. Even then, I wondered what the point of everything was…right up until the very end. That ah-ha moment had me rethinking everything that happened in this installment of In the Company of Killers. In the end, my biggest complaints were I needed more Victor and Izabel time and more Fredrik.

Behind the Hands that Kill
Series: In the Company of Killers, #6
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: May 7, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

After the end of the last book, I was a little nervous regarding Victor’s intentions and idea of taking Izabel on a vacation. I had no idea where things would go with that — and what happened wasn’t on my radar. This book was all about revealing some of Victor’s secrets. It was an education on the man in a stressful way. I’m not happy with where things left off between Victor and Izabel, but it sure is making for some interesting reading. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Spiders in the Grove
Series: In the Company of Killers, #7
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

If I were to share my train of thought while reading Spiders in the Grove, it would go something like this:

Niklas is what?
Fredrik is what?
Victor is what?
Please tell me that’s a lie…
What is this? I don’t even…
IZABEL!
Ah, crap! Deal with the devil coming right up.
Ahhhh!!!!
That’s who…?
Woohoo!
I FREAKING KNEW IT!
I didn’t expect that.
I HATE IT!
That’s where it ends??? I need more now! Where is the next book?

Spiders in the Grove was non-stop revelations and crazy, crazy happenings. I was blindsided by so much! I wanted to say I loved every minute of it, but the subject matter would make that disgusting. The writing, though. It was pure genius and those twists and turns were perfection. I loved that we got real time POVs for all the characters. Also, the title is one of my favorites ever now. It matches the book so well.

I’m both happy and angry to be caught up with the series. I need that eighth book like NOW.

Overall thoughts on this series so far:

 This is one of the best dark romance/thriller series I’ve ever read. It is right up there with Beth Flynn’s Nine Minutes Trilogy for me. The twists and turns kept coming and I couldn’t stop reading.  I am on pins and needles waiting for the rest of the books.

Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea (T.J. Klune)

The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: T.J. Klune
Narrator: Daniel Henning
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.


Let me confirm all the hype The House in the Cerulean Sea is getting for you. This book is worth every ounce of praise it’s been given. It was absolutely fabulous — and that’s coming from someone who isn’t a big fantasy or magical creatures fan.

There was so much depth to The House in the Cerulean SeaThe writing was gorgeous. It immediately captured my attention and kept it the entire time. The characters, and there were many, had individual voices that somehow all managed to stand out. I especially loved the children of the house’s voices. They each had their own struggles and what they brought to the story was so valuable. (If I had to pick a favorite character, it would have to be Lucy. He cracked me up every time he spoke with his inappropriate comments.) All of the characters fit into the story so well. The story was so entertaining! The author somehow managed to seamlessly wave magical creatures elements with valuable social and moral points. Add in a touch of romance, and it was the perfect read. It was simply heartwarming.

Not only was the book itself perfect, but so was the narration. It was fabulous. If you’re looking for an audiobook to listen to, I highly recommend this one. Daniel Henning brought each and every character to life. I would have enjoyed reading this book, but listening to it made it all the better.

So, yes. The hype is real for The House in the Cerulean Sea.

Review: The Off Limits Rule (Sarah Adams)

The Off Limits Rule
Series: It Happened in Nashville, #1
Author: Sarah Adams
Publication Date: January 4, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I have found rock bottom. It’s here, moving in with my older brother because I’m too broke to afford to live on my own. But that’s okay because we’ve always been close and I think I’m going to have fun living with him again.

That is until I meet Cooper…

Turns out, my brother has very strong opinions on the idea of me dating his best friend and is dead set against it. According to him, Cooper is everything I should stay away from: flirtatious, adventurous, non-committal, and freaking hot. (I added that last part because I feel like you need the whole picture.) My brother is right, though. I should stay away from Cooper James and his pretty blue eyes. He’s the opposite of what I need right now.

Nah—Who am I kidding? I’m going for him. 


If I Marie Kondo was holding up a copy of The Off Limits Rule asking if it brought me joy, the answer would be YES. It would be a keeper. This book brought me SO MUCH joy. I freaking loved every minute I spent reading it. I laughed constantly. It was exactly what I needed to read.

Lucy was one of those quirky characters with low self-esteem who could have been annoying but instead came off as hilarious and relatable. I loved her relationship with her family. She was a good mother to Levi and had her priorities straight when it came to raising him. Lucy’s relationship with her brother, Drew, was sweet and I loved how close they were. I can’t leave out her relationship with her parents. It was cool how close she was with her mom and how her parents doted on Levi.

Cooper was a great match for Lucy. He knew how to push her when needed and also when to stand back and support her. Being in his head was fun because he was a good guy. Drew might have seen him as a player, but I loved that deep down he wasn’t. I also loved how he reacted to Levi and didn’t shy away from him.

Lucy and Cooper together were hilarious. Even mundane things they did somehow made me laugh. They just fit personality wise. I loved their connection. Their relationship (as with all of Sarah Adams’ couples) was a slow burn that had a more innocent vibe than a lot of romances out there. Despite that, their chemistry sizzled.

I feel like I need to go back to my earlier comment about Lucy’s self-esteem. I think some readers are going to balk at it, but I found it easy to understand. They won’t like that how men see her has such an effect on her. In my opinion, Adams did a great job addressing this through both Lucy and Cooper’s eyes. I liked how it was done.

As far as I’m concerned, Sarah Adams can’t publish books fast enough. I absolutely adore her writing style. It’s fun and fresh. Her romances are slow burn teetering on innocent. I can’t wait to find out what’s next in this series with Drew’s book.

Review: Not My Match (Ilsa Madden-Mills)

Not My Match
Series: The Game Changer, #2
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Genre: Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers a smart and sexy romance about a professional football hottie and the girl he’s sworn to never touch.

Homeless and heartbreakingly innocent, Giselle Riley walks into my penthouse and chaos follows.

I shouldn’t have invited the girl genius to live with me, but it’s clear she needs my help—not only for a place to lay her pretty blonde head but in finding real love, which she’s not going to get with the crazy men she picks up online.

Too bad she’s a twenty-four-year-old virgin and I’m a bad boy wide receiver. She’s off limits for a hardcore player like me—and we’re just friends.

Instead, I’m her matchmaking service, no matter how jealous it makes me when I tag along on her dates.

I can keep my self-control. Right? No way will I give in to everything inside me that dreams of a girl like her in my world.

I may be the best wide receiver in the country, but how could I hold on to a girl like her?


I have been eagerly awaiting Not My Match from the moment I finished Not My Romeo. I simply adored that romantic comedy and couldn’t wait for more. If you’ve read the first book in this series, you know Giselle is Elena’s younger sister. With how everything went down between the sisters in Not My Romeo, I was very curious to get to know Giselle better. Devon, too.

Giselle was a great surprise. I imagined her being super put together from hearing about her from Elena’s perspective, but she wasn’t. Honestly, Giselle was kind of a hot mess and I loved that. I loved her.

Devon was a character I enjoyed in the first book, but I ended up loving him even more in this one. He was very different from Giselle, but they fit perfectly. He had an interesting back story of his own that fit well into everything that was going on.

The chemistry between Devon and Giselle was off the charts. It somehow managed to be a slow burn romance while giving off heat the whole time. They had this sweet friendship that turned into a scorching connection. I loved the way their romance progressed.  Plus, there was just the right amount of humor involved in their romance.  I got to laugh multiple times. Devon and Giselle falling for each other was a lot of fun to read.

Another fun thing about this one was the side characters. Giselle’s neighbor Myrtle cracked me up. I loved her and her dog. I also loved getting more of Mrs. Riley’s antics and some from the other characters I had met before. There were a few other new ones that brought some special stuff to this romance.

There was one thing I wasn’t a huge fan of. Sadly to say, it was the big problem toward the end of the story. I was just disappointed in the decision Giselle had to make and how that all resolved. I mean, I got it. Decisions have to be made and it’s important to make the right decision for oneself. I just didn’t like what her choices were in this day and age. It frustrated me as a woman.

That being said, I did love it Devon and Giselle. I loved that together and the fun they had. I had a great time reading this book and would recommend it. I’m hoping there is more to come in this series. I would love to get to read a book about Aiden.

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.

PURCHASE LINKS

All Links in one spot: https://shor.by/roommate
Audible: https://geni.us/Audible-RM
Amazon: https://geni.us/Amazon-roommate
Apple: https://geni.us/Apple-roommate
Kobo: https://geni.us/Kobo-roommate
Nook: https://geni.us/Nook-roommate