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.

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
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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: 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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Series Review: Bachelors of the Ridge (Karla Sorensen)

Karla Sorensen is one of my favorite new-to-me authors of 2020. I’ve been slowly making my way through all of her books/series this year. After this series, I only have one more book to read and I will be caught up on her backlist. Here are mini reviews for each book in the Bachelors of the Ridge series.

Dylan
Series: Bachelors of the Ridge, #1
Author: Karla Sorensen
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Dutch Girl Publishing, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts:

I had briefly met Dylan in his sister’s book in the Three Little Words series. Casey was a little high maintenance, so I was interested in getting to know her self-proclaimed closest brother better. I really enjoyed reading Dylan. Dylan was a great, normal guy. He took a chance and moved, where he met Kat. Kat had been a foster child and was about ten years younger than Dylan. I liked the dynamic their different backgrounds and ages brought to the story. It was sweet romance and reminded me why I enjoy Sorensen’s writing so much.

Garrett
Series: Bachelors of the Ridge, #2
Author: Karla Sorensen
Publication Date: October 21, 2016
Publisher: Dutch Girl Publishing, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts:

Garrett was Dylan’s friend with the most charisma. I was happy his book was the second in the series because I wanted to know who would win his heart. I can’t decide how I felt about Garrett. On one hand, I really enjoyed this book because Garrett grew up a bit and came into his own. Uptight Aurora balanced out Garrett’s goofy personality. On the other hand, I wanted someone more fun for Garrett. This book was so serious and I loved how everything was handled, but I wish it had been more rom-com based on his personality. I wanted to have more fun with him.

Cole
Series: Bachelors of the Ridge, #3
Author: Karla Sorensen
Publication Date: March 22, 2017
Publisher: Dutch Girl Publishing, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts:

Oh, boy. Cole. I’m not quite sure I was ready for the emotional pull Cole had. Cole had been divorced for years and still held a torch for his ex-wife, Julia. Julia comes back to town and a second chance romance begins. It was an emotional one dealing with infertility. Cole was such a good guy. Julia…I both loved and  hated Julia at times. They were a good couple, though. What they went through was not easy, but it was a great second chance romance. I loved how it ended.

Michael
Series: Bachelors of the Ridge, #4
Author: Karla Sorensen
Publication Date: July 26, 2017
Publisher: Dutch Girl Publishing, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts:

Did I love that “playboy” Michael fell for single mom of twins, Brooke? Why, yes. Yes, I did. I had hoped this was going to happen based on a couple things I read in Cole, but the story was even sweeter than I imagined. I loved Michael and Brooke together. Add in Brooke’s adorable twins, and I bet you can imagine how adorable it was. I do wish it had been a little longer so I could find out more about how the ex ended up.

Tristan
Series: Bachelors of the Ridge, #5
Author: Karla Sorensen
Publication Date: July 25, 2018
Publisher: Dutch Girl Publishing, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts:

With Anna being Garrett’s sister and married, I wondered how this one was going to play out. I liked how the demise of her marriage was dealt with. I loved how Anna took time to think about what should come next. I especially loved how Tristan took her situation into account. Getting to finally see under Tristan’s quiet demeaner was a huge plus. I knew I was going to adore his character from the first four books. Tristan was a sweet slow burn romance that I loved every minute of, and it was a great way to end the series.

Overall series thoughts:

Bachelors of the Ridge was a fun series to binge. Each book had Karla Sorensen’s pleasant story telling and writing. There was a little drama, but not too much drama involved in each book. This series is connected to the Three Little Words series. It’s fun to read those books first, but you absolutely don’t have to.

Review: Loverboy (Sarina Bowen)

Loverboy
Series: The Company, #2
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Secrets, desires, and exquisite pie. It’s all in a day’s work at The Company.

Growing up, I was the rough guy from the wrong neighborhood who couldn’t catch a break. Posy was the pampered girl I tried to impress. But all she gave me was a single kiss before I had to skip town.
Now I’m back, and the tables are turned. Posy runs a struggling pie shop. I’m the VP of a secretive billion-dollar security company. 
Not that I can tell her.
There’s a murderer on the loose in New York, and he seems to spend a lot of time at Posy’s shop. It’s my job to identify him before he can harm a hair on her pretty head.
Going undercover as Posy’s new barista wasn’t my idea. I don’t even drink coffee. But now I have to call her “boss,” and do everything the curvy perfectionist asks of me. I’d forgotten how much we infuriate each other, and that she somehow fills me with both irritation and desire in the same breath.
There’s nobody more skilled at stealth ops than me. I can bring this killer down. Right after I take a cold shower. And just as soon I figure out how to make a skinny peppermint latte with milk poured in the shape of a kitten…


I normally shy away from romantic suspense novels, but there’s nothing that would keep me from reading one from Sarina Bowen. Especially since I read and loved the first book in The Company series, MoonlighterLoverboy was as good as Moonlighter, if not better. It had an even larger suspense aspect to it while still maintaining the contemporary romance feel I love in Bowen’s books.

Gunnar and Posy had a great enemies vibe going on. They hated each other from their early adulthood and those feelings carried over to meeting again. It was more a fake enemies thing because the two couldn’t get enough of crushing on each other. I loved how they were thrown together in Posy’s pie shop. The whole situation was fun and engaging. I loved how their relationship built as the drama and suspense built.

That drama and suspense was so interesting! Like I said before, I’m not usually into it, but I loved how it was set up in this story involving the company and Posy’s shop. There were so many little twists to keep track of. It was fun. My only maybe complaint about it was that it took longer for Gunnar and Posy to interact because of the set up. That set up was actually a lot of fun, though!

Overall, Loverboy was another fantastic read by Bowen. It had a swoon worthy romance, hilarious moments, and an engaging suspense plot. I loved Gunnar and Posy, plus all the supporting characters. I am really hoping Max finally gets his book next.

PURCHASE LINKS

All in one link page: https://shor.by/the-company
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54585164-loverboy

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Review: The Bookworm’s Guide to Faking It (Emma Hart)

The Bookworm’s Guide to Faking It
Series: The Bookworm’s Guide, #2
Author: Emma Hart
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

What I expected on Saturday morning: Books.
What I got on Saturday morning: my ex-best friend and first crush in front of me.

Let it be known that I, Holley Stuart, do not give a single rat’s behind about pro baseball’s star pitcher Sebastian Stone.
I definitely don’t care that he’s standing in my bookstore.
Nor do I care that he seems to have forgotten about the last time we saw each other—senior prom, when he both humiliated me and broke my heart, albeit unknowingly.
Now, he needs a date to his sister’s wedding.
Don’t ask me how I ended up being it, because I have no idea. But that’s the least of my problems.
His grandfather is adamant we’re dating, and Seb isn’t in a hurry to convince him otherwise, so I have no choice but to go along with it.
The problem? The only thing I’ve ever faked is… well, you know.
I’ve definitely never faked my feelings for someone.
And judging by the way I feel whenever Seb looks at me, it doesn’t look like I’m starting now.


I can always count on Emma Hart to bring the angst-free, low drama fun and that’s exactly what she did with The Bookworm’s Guide to Faking It. This was a delightful romantic comedy filled with some of a romance fan’s favorite tropes: ex-bestfriends, fake dating, and best friends again to more.

I loved every moment of Holley and Sebastian reconnecting. I appreciated Holley’s resistance to letting Sebastian back into her good graces. I loved finding out what truly happened on the prom night that shattered their friendship. Even more, I loved how easy they slipped into best friends and the attraction that followed. Their chemistry was so sweet and entertaining. 

The Bookworm’s Guide to Faking It was such a good time. I liked it even more than the first book in the series, and that’s saying a lot because that one was older brother’s best friend goodness. I cannot wait for the next book in the series because I have a feeling it’s going to continue the tradition in being better than the last — which is pretty hard to do at this point. 

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Review: A California Christmas (Brenda Novak)

A California Christmas
Series: Silver Springs, #7
Author: Brenda Novak
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Holiday
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Up-and-coming TV anchor Emery Bliss can’t imagine anything more humiliating than the sex tape her ex revenge-posted online. That is, until it causes her to lose her job on top of her self-esteem. Seeking solace—and anonymity—in Silver Springs, Emery isn’t looking to get involved with another man anytime soon. But when she’s thrown back into contact with Dallas Turner, she sees something that his many detractors have missed.

Being home for the holidays and his adoptive mother’s wedding isn’t where mountain climber Dallas feels most comfortable. Thanks to his troubled childhood, he’d rather be on a rock face alone than trying to connect with people. Emery, however, makes him want to overcome his past…somehow.

Both Emery and Dallas had been planning on a quiet, solitary Christmas, but the sparks between them are lighting a fire strong enough to last—possibly forever.


It’s been a long time since I picked up a book by Brenda Novak. I adored her Whiskey Creek series, but had yet to try out this Silver Springs one. I couldn’t resist A California Christmas’ blurb and the fact that it was a holiday novel — those are some of my favorites from Novak.

A California Christmas ended up being a good read for me, but not great. Dallas and Emery’s love story was sweet, but there wasn’t as much depth to them as I wanted. That made it harder to connect to them. I wish I had gotten more of their teenage backstory. I also probably shouldn’t have jumped into this series so far into it. I just didn’t have enough of background information on the many of the characters to make this a completely smooth reading experience for me.

Another thing that was hard for me was that I was expecting a cute holiday romance. This book cover, title, and blurb screams holiday novel, but it wasn’t really a true contemporary holiday romance. It had a big romantic suspense element going on. There were some cute holiday moments peppered in, but I wanted more.

Even though this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was an entertaining read. I have a feeling fans who have read the entire series will enjoy it much more than I did.