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: 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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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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Review: The Not-Outcast (Tijan)

The Not-Outcast
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Tijan
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Cutler Ryder was everything I wasn’t.

He was the hockey star. I was an outcast.
He was best friends with my stepbrother, that same stepbrother who hated me.
His two parents loved him. My mom was a junkie. My dad barely knew me.

Years passed.
I got my life together.
Cut went onto NHL stardom.

Then there was a text.
I was drinking.
There was a party.
Cut was there…

I loved Cutler Ryder since the first moment I saw him.
The only problem? He never knew I existed. 


I remember reading the prologue to The Not-Outcast in the Australia anthology.  It was called I Mean, It’s Cool in that anthology. It was different from anything I had read. I didn’t know what to think of it then. I wanted to know more about Cheyenne, Cut, Chad, and everything else that was going on. I was so glad there was going to be a full length novel to continue the story.

The Not-Outcast was a special book. It puts the reader inside Cheyenne’s head. Cheyenne was a chaotic character. Her mental illness shaped her life and her thoughts. I probably don’t know enough about Cheyenne’s diagnosis to say whether or not they were true to life, but I have experienced anxiety and those moments felt real. I loved that Tijan chose to spotlight someone dealing with all the things Cheyenne had to deal with.

This time around we also got Cut’s point of view. I had much respect for Cut throughout the entire book. He didn’t scare easily and stood up for what was right. Seeing how easy loving Cheyenne was for Cut was inspiring. I liked seeing her through his eyes.

I mentioned Cut’s best friend Chad above, but I’ll leave him to those reading the book. Instead I’m going to talk about Cheyenne’s girlfriends. Melanie and Sasha were freaking awesome. I loved how they were ride or die for each other. I felt their love for each other and the strengths of their friendship. (I would totally read a book about either of them.)

I know I’m not giving you much in this review, but I honestly don’t know how to explain most of it without giving too much away. If you’re a fan Tijan’s writing, you will like it. It’s got the drama, the strong female characters with issues, a tough but loving hero, and more drama. I enjoyed the ride and I’m sad it’s over for me. I guess I could always reread it…

The Not-Outcast an all-new emotional slow burn romance from New York Times bestselling author Tijan is available now!

 

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About Tijan
Tijan is a New York Times Bestselling author that writes suspenseful and unpredictable novels. Her characters are strong, intense, and gut-wrenchingly real with a little bit of sass on the side. Tijan began writing later in life and once she started, she was hooked. She’s written multi-bestsellers including the Carter Reed Series, the Fallen Crest Series, and the Broken and Screwed Series among others. She is currently writing a new YA series along with so many more from north Minnesota where she lives with a man she couldn’t be without and an English Cocker she adores.

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Review: You Had Me at Hockey (Kelly Jamieson)

You Had Me at Hockey
Series: Bears Hockey, #2
Author: Kelly Jamieson
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Publisher: Random House LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Can a spirited, down-to-earth influencer get an uptight hockey player out of his shell?

Josh
I am a warrior. That’s been my motto since I recovered from a near-death accident when I was younger. Now I enjoy my nice, settled life in Dallas playing pro hockey—a boring life is better than being dead. I’m not a party guy or an adventurer; I like my routine and peace and quiet. So being traded to New York is the worst possible change that could happen. And meeting unfiltered and fascinating Sara Carrington throws my life into even more chaos.

Sara
I’ve been considered weird my whole life, which is why I’m still a virgin, but I’ve turned it into a career with my YouTube videos. Who knew people would love watching me talk about my zits, taste test meatless burgers, and try to learn TikTok dances! Now I’m launching a podcast. Getting hockey star Josh Heller as a guest will help gain listeners for sure. I expect a bearded jock with no teeth and nothing to say, but I get a hot as H-E-double-hockey-sticks grouch with a surprisingly dirty mind. My mission to make him laugh is successful, but I want to know why he’s so uptight underneath that panty-dropping smile. Maybe I can teach Josh to have some fun . . . and maybe he can teach me a thing or two along the way. . . .


I loved You Had Me at Hockey. The entire thing was adorable. Sara was this funny, impulsive, down to Earth chick that made me laugh so hard. She brought out the best in Josh. Josh (of the Heller family for those who have read that series) was this slightly grumpy, uptight hockey player. He lived by his plans and it was fun to see him unravel with Sara by his side. These two  had serious chemistry and their banter was hilarious. They played so well off each other. I also liked the realities the two faced pertaining to their pasts. It was easy to identify with both of them.

You Had Me at Hockey was truly a great, heartfelt romance. Most of all, it made me laugh and smile. It’s going down as one of my favorite sports romances from Kelly Jamieson. I want more like it.

Mini Reviews: I Promise You, The Bribe, & Take A Number

Today, I’m sharing with you three mini reviews for new releases I’ve read recently.

I Promise You
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Publication Date: October 12, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This is the last book in Madden-Mills’ sports romances set at Waylon University. This time it’s newly starting quarterback Dillon McQueen’s turn to shine. His character was so much fun. He started off with a cocky flare, but I liked what was layered beneath. Dillon was a good dude who seemed to be a little misunderstood. I liked his pairing with Serena. She also had some great layers to unravel. She had an ex to move on from and insecurities to deal with. Their love story and characters might have felt a a little cliche at times, but it was the romance was entertaining. I especially loved that first scene. It was a good way to finish up the series.

The Bribe
Series: Calamity Montana, #1
Author: Willa Nash
Publication Date: October 15, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

I’ve been waiting for this book since I read a preview of it in the One More Step Anthology. It was just as good as I was expecting. I loved the small town vibe and all the characters. Lucy and Duke were adorable together. I even enjoyed the suspense aspect that managed to surprise me. The Bribe was everything I’ve come to expect from Devney Perry — or I guess I should say Willa Nash. I wish she would have kept it branded Devney Perry because it didn’t seem like a departure from her regular romance brand.

Take A Number
Series: Wait With Me, #4
Author: Amy Daws
Publication Date: October 15, 2020
Publisher: Stars Hollow Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

I binged the first three books in this series about a month ago. I was so excited to see this fourth book coming so soon. I have to admit that Dean has not been my favorite character in this series, but I looked forward to getting to know him better. He proved himself to be not as arrogantly disgusting as I expected. His romance with Norah was actually a really great fake relationship. It was everything I liked about the trope. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was Norah being described as OCD at the beginning. It sounded like she had some traits of OCD, but then it kind of just got put off as being controlling after that. I needed some clarification. Otherwise, this book was a lot of fun.

Review: Secret Puck (Rebecca Jenshak)

Secret Puck
Series: Campus Nights, #1
Author: Rebecca Jenshak
Publication Date: October 19, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Secretly hooking up with the team captain’s sister was a bad idea.
In my defense, the first time I saw her I didn’t know who she was.
Kind, gorgeous, a little naïve. Ginny brightened my world from day one.
I knew I was no good for her. She was just out of a relationship and I had a reputation for having a new girl in my bed every weekend.
I tried to do the right thing. Honest.
I’m the one who insisted we should be just friends.
That lasted about as long as you’d expect.
But Ginny? She’s the best – best friend, best everything.
So yeah, hooking up with the team captain’s sister wasn’t a great idea.
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.


You know how some books make your heart happy? That’s exactly what Secret Puck did for me. I loved it from the very start. I had no doubt I would, getting to return to the same college setting that hosted Jenshak’s Smart Jocks series, and getting to know Nathan’s little brother Heath better. It was more than that, though. Jenshak has become an author I know is going to make laugh, smile, and fall in love with her characters.

Ginny and Heath were so stinking adorable together. Their relationship had this natural progression that I really dug. It may have been a “secret” relationship at the start, but that didn’t weigh things down emotionally. Secret Puck was low on angst, even when dealing with the more complex issues Ginny and Heath faced. I loved how they truly enjoyed each other’s company. It was all just so swoony!

Another thing that made me incredibly happy were all the side characters. Heath’s teammates and roommates were perfect additions to this book, and make me excited to find out what’s coming next in the series. Ginny also had some great friends who I can’t wait to see find their significant others in the future. There are just so many possibilities for romances coming. I can’t stand waiting!

So, yeah. I loved this one. I loved it so much that I don’t know that I really have anything non-gushy to say about it. It was just one of those romances that I could sit back, read, lose myself, and enjoy. If you like college sports romances, this is definitely one I would recommend.

🏒🏒 #OɴᴇCʟɪᴄᴋ:

Amazon Universal: https://smarturl.it/6d6k5j

The author is doing a signed paperback/swag giveaway on her Facebook and Instagram pages. Stop by to enter!

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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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