G. Bianco, 2019
Lasairiona McMaster returns to the world of hockey romance with her newest series, The Cedar Rapids Raccoons. The spin-off of her Snow Pirates Series follows a new set of college hockey players looking for love and we get just that in Pulling the Goalie, which comes out on May 11th.
Ares de la Peña is a VIP hockey goalie, a stripper, and a bisexual playboy. He lives for the limelight. He’s everything Eloise, a studious college student, should avoid, yet she’s drawn to him in ways she doesn't understand. Eloise hides her scars behind her bright hair, quirky clothing, and striking lipstick, but Ares sees her the same way she sees him. She’s the calm that quiets his demons, while running from her own. As their worlds collide, Eloise discovers he’s more than just the flashy heir to a billion dollar fortune, but still doesn’t feel like she can fit into his world. But how can Ares make her see that what they have is far more than skin deep?
I liked this book, but it wasn’t my favorite of McMasters. I just felt like the romance started too abruptly and there were too many things going on in the beginning of the story. This book eventually found its footing about a third of the way through, but I think I would’ve wished for a simpler main plot rather than having so many different details thrown at me in the beginning and a subplot that really didn’t take off until the end of the book.
However, I did really like Eloise and Ares’s relationship and how they learn to lean on one another to become truer versions of themselves. Plus, some of the side characters and the rest of the de la Peña Family make me really excited to continue this series.
Was this my favorite book by McMasters? No. Do I still want to read the rest of this series? Heck yes!
*I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
Happy Pub Day to I Like Me Better by Robby Weber which is the fun YA read you need to add to your Summer TBR! Filled with high school drama (even when school isn't in session) and wanting to make an impact, this queer contemporary romance, which comes out on May 2nd, is sure to be a smash hit!
When the captain's prank means trouble for the whole squad, soccer star Zack Martin’s left with no choice but to take one for the team and cover for him. Now he’s trading parties and beach days for community service at a seaside conservation center—fair enough. But thanks to his new reputation, the cute intern, Chip, won’t even give him a shot. Still, Zack finds himself falling for Chip between dolphin encounters and shark costume disasters, which means he suddenly has way more on the line than he ever expected. Zack may be good at winning on the field, but can he keep up the lie without losing himself?
While I was frustrated with Zack’s character in the beginning, he definitely becomes more relatable as the book goes on. His character development is really fun to read about and this book shows that life isn’t about being popular or being the best, it’s about the friendships and relationships you build along the way to trying to reach your goals and dreams.
This cast of characters was super fun to read about (especially Zack and Chip’s budding romance!) and added dynamic to this book. While Zack ended up being a good main character, I think I liked the side characters even more!
Additionally, the underlying themes of environmental awareness were very relevant to society right now and I think will resonate with readers, especially young ones looking to make a difference. Plus, having this story set in the summer (with a lot of Taylor Swift and Shakespeare references) gave me all of the warm weather vibes and made this YA novel even more enjoyable.
If you like YA novels that feature LGBTQ+ romance, soccer, environmental issues, or summertime shenanigans, then this is the book for you!
*I received an advanced copy from Inkyard Press and BookishFirst in exchange for my honest opinion.
In her debut novel, Genevieve Wheeler tackles the complexities of love for young people and what it’s like finding your way in life. Adelaide, which comes out April 18th, is already getting critical acclaim and I anticipate even more praise for this story.
For twenty-six-year-old Adelaide Williams, an American living in dreamy London, meeting Rory Hughes was like a lightning bolt out of the blue: this charming Englishman was The One she wasn’t even looking for. Does he respond to texts? Honor his commitments? Make advance plans? Sometimes, rarely, and no, not at all. But when he shines his light on her, the world makes sense, and Adelaide is convinced that, in his heart, he’s fallen just as deeply as she has. Then, when Rory is rocked by an unexpected tragedy, Adelaide does everything in her power to hold him together—even if it means losing herself in the process.
This book is so unique and moving that I don’t even know where to start this review… This story isn’t a romance, but it is. This story isn’t a tragedy; but in some ways it is. It’s just a story about a woman’s life and how she interprets and tackles the things life throws at her.
This debut novel is just so honest in its approach to love and youth and trying to find your way in life, even when it feels like the world doesn’t love you back. This book touches upon a lot of heavy subjects like grief, loss, death, mental health, and toxic/abusive relationships, but also highlights the beauties of the world like love, music, literature, traveling, friendship, and found families.
The non-linear timelines and alternating POVs make this book more engaging and kind of mirror Adelaide’s thoughts and philosophy about living life in the moment.
If you’re looking for your next book club read or a book with a realistic storyline and an honest take on romance, then check out this book!
*I received an ARC from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion.
Ok I need to tell you guys all about Yours Truly which is out today, because it might be one o f my favorite reads of the year so far. This Abby Jimenez novel (which is a spin-off of her previous novel Part of Your World but works as a standalone too!) shows that sometimes things aren’t always as they first seem.
Dr. Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalized, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s “pain in my ass” scale. But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr. Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter. And it’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her “sob closet,” and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses. But when Jacob decides to give Briana the best gift imaginable—a kidney for her brother—she wonders just how she can resist this quietly sexy new doctor . . . especially when he calls in a favor she can’t refuse.
I honestly forgot how much I loved Abby Jimenez’s writing until I read this book! Not only was this just an overall amazing romance that had me binge-reading it until 1am, but the mental health rep and ways in which health and illness was shown in this book made the story that much more meaningful!
Not only is this fake dating workplace romance so fun to read, but both main characters were amazing and having the dual POV really helped me feel connected to Briana and Jacob and understand their pasts and present feelings.
I honestly found myself crying at the most random times because this book was just so beautifully written! Between the letter-writing, the pining, and the slow burn romance made this book so phenomenal!
If you’re looking for a touching romance that shows a lot of character growth, then I highly recommend this book (or honestly anything by Abby Jimenez because all of her books are fabulous)!
*I received an ARC from Read Forever in exchange for my honest opinion.
One of my favorite books of the year comes out tomorrow (4/11), but I’m going to tell you about it now because it is SO. GOOD! If Only You by Chloe Liese, which is the fifth installment in The Bergman Brothers Series, is just as good as every other book in this series!
Ziggy Bergman is the youngest player on the National Soccer team, the baby of her family, and thoroughly sick of being underestimated, so she's decided to take matters into her own hands. Which is where her brother's best friend and teammate, the infamous Sebastian Gauthier, comes in. Sebastian's hockey career and sponsorships are in jeopardy, and while he's not ready to actually reform his ways, he's happy to pretend that he has in order to secure the life he's on the brink of losing. Seb needs to rehab his reputation and Ziggy wants to give her's an edge. So Ziggy proposes a fake friendship with real benefits: spending time in the public eye, her good-girl image and his bad-boy notoriety rubbing off on each other. But what began as a transactional arrangement becomes the most loving relationship Sebastian's ever known and Ziggy starts to see the heart of gold Sebastian's been hiding beneath that sinister surface.
Chloe Liese has done it again. She has made me fall even more in love with her writing and crafted a beautifully written romance that has so much representation in it. Touching upon neurodiversity, sexuality, anxiety and mental health, and physical health, Liese shows that not only is everyone capable of being loved, but that everyone is worthy of loving a healthy and happy life as well.
The slow burn fake friends to real friends to lovers romance is super unique in its approach to Ziggy and Sebastian starting their relationship, but it is done so well in this story. The plot is perfectly paced out, which only makes readers even more invested in the romance of the story. The build up of Ziggy and Sebastian trusting each other and growing together shows how personal growth and self-love is needed to be able to love someone else.
Also, having a sexy bad boy hockey player who unintentionally falls for a sweet and caring soccer player and changes his self-destructive and rogue-ish ways for her is a trope I will never get tired of. Throw in a big adorable family with members who make cameos from other books in this series and this romance becomes even more amazing.
Considering this is the sixth book in The Bergman Brothers Series, I probably don’t have to repeat myself for the sixth time but I will anyway: READ THIS BOOK/SERIES! It is an absolutely binge-worthy and delicious romance that will have you wanting more Bergman Family adventures.
*I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
When an amazing ARC (that comes out on April 4th) is also a Book of the Month and Reese’s Book Club Pick, then that should be convincing enough for you to read it right? Well if none of that works, then maybe my review of Curtis Siittenfeld’s Romantic Comedy will!
Sally Milz is a sketch writer for The Night Owls, a late-night live comedy show that airs every Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life. But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actress who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch called the Danny Horst Rule, poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman. Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder if there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy—it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?
At first glance, the title seems very obvious, but Romantic Comedy is more than just a romantic comedy! The shifting of writing styles helped make the novel more dynamic and engaging. The novel’s three parts differ in storytelling styles and these shifts not only helps the story move quicker and keep the reader engaged, but also gives the reader the opportunity to get to know both characters and their backstories better.
This book was oddly nostalgic also? Actually, I think a better word would be “reminiscent” since I don’t think anyone is nostalgic for 2020! But having some of this book set during 2020 made it oddly relatable.
If you’re looking for an unconventional celebrity romance with SNL vibes and startling relatability, read this book!
*I received an ARC from Random House in exchange for my honest opinion.
Mark your TBRs for the latest book by writing duo Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (aka Wibbroka) which comes out tomorrow, April 4th. Never Vacation with Your Ex has all of the summer vibes you could want in a fun YA rom-com!
Seventeen-year-old volleyball star Kaylee Jordan lives a life of player rankings, constant training, and a carefully curated social media full of followers watching to see if she'll go pro out of high school like her famous mom. Her one refuge, and the thing she looks forward to every summer? The vacation her family spends in Malibu with the Freeman-Yus. This year, there’s only one problem: Kaylee and their son, Dean, dated for the past three months, and Kaylee just unceremoniously dumped him. Hoping to spare them the worst summer ever, Kaylee comes to Dean with her unconventional solution: she’s going to walk him through her rules for getting over an ex. When Dean grudgingly cooperates, Kaylee’s got her work cut out for her. But helping Dean follow her own rules starts becoming difficult when the pressures of Kaylee’s family legacy and perfect life start to feel less like a plan and more like a prison…and amid warm California nights and stolen laughs, Kaylee feels herself falling for Dean for the same reasons and some new ones. With their trip coming to an end, Kaylee has to make the complicated choice between doing what’s expected and taking a (second) chance on love.
This book had me wishing for summer so much! The beach vacation, family bonding, and annual traditions reminded me of why I love summertime. Paired with an interesting friends-to-lovers/second chance romance, this is the perfect cutesy summer read!
While I found Kaylee to be a bit whiny in the beginning of the novel, I adored Dean so much that I just had to keep reading! And I’m glad I did! This book didn’t just have our two main characters learning to trust each other again, but also a fun family and friendship element to it as well.
If you’re looking for a cute YA romance to add to your summer TBR then this one is it! I love Wibbroka’s writing style and cannot wait to see what they’ll write next!
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
From the bestselling author of the Legend Series comes a new book about international crime, fame, and two unlikely accomplices. Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu has everything you could want in a YA action book that will have fans wanting more when it comes out on March 28th.
Meet Winter Young—International pop sensation, with a voice like velvet and looks that could kill. His star power has smashed records, selling out stadiums from LA to London. His rabid fans would move heaven and earth for even a glimpse of him—just imagine what they’d do to become his latest fling. Meet Sydney Cossette—Part of an elite covert ops group, Sydney joined their ranks as their youngest spy with plans to become the best agent they’ve ever had. An ice queen with moves as dangerous as her comebacks, Sydney picks up languages just as quickly as she breaks hearts. She's fiery, no-nonsense, and has zero time for romance—especially with a shameless flirt more used to serving sass than taking orders. When a major crime boss gifts his daughter a private concert with Winter for her birthday, Sydney and Winter's lives suddenly collide. Tasked with infiltrating the crime organization’s inner circle, Sydney is assigned as Winter's bodyguard with Winter tapped to join her on the mission of a lifetime as a new spy recruit. Sydney may be the only person alive impervious to Winter's charms, but as their mission brings them closer, she’s forced to admit that there's more to Winter Young than just a handsome face.
I really enjoyed this story! This book was a combination of action-packed with a touch of romance and it was everything you could want in a YA novel. While those used to adult suspense novels might find this book a bit basic, YA readers will probably devour this book as fast as I did! Both Winter and Sydney were such fun characters to read about and learning more about their pasts was super interesting and made them such well-developed characters.
I sincerely hope that a whole series develops about these two because I want to see Winter and Sydney tackle more adventures together and fall in love!! (That’s not too big of an ask, right Marie Lu lol?)
*I received an ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group (Fierce Reads) in exchange for my honest opinion.
Get ready to fall in love with a new series by beloved historical romance author, Amelia Grey. Set to come out on March 28th, Yours Truly, The Duke is the first book in the Say I Do Series and if you love marriage of convenience with adorable kids, then you’re going to love this one!
Fredericka Hale needs a husband, and fast. She’s been caring for her deceased sister’s three young children, and now a childless cousin has petitioned the court for custody. Fredericka is powerless to stop her, but having a husband might sway the ruling. The last thing Fredericka wants is a hurried-up marriage to a man she doesn’t know—much less love, but she’ll do it for the children. So when the handsome Duke of Wyatthaven shows up with a proposal, she accepts. He'll help her, and in return, they’ll lead separate lives. But distance cannot keep them from their powerful attraction. At the top of his game in London, the Duke of Wyatthaven has no interest in marriage. However, if Wyatt doesn’t marry by week’s end, he’ll lose a sizable inheritance from his grandmother. When Wyatt’s solicitor finds Miss Fredericka Hale, Wyatt considers this little hiccup solved. Miss Hale is lovely, and intelligent. Most importantly, she prefers country life to London, so he’s free to continue his life as usual. But when circumstances force Fredericka and the children to show up at the duke’s door, Wyatt can’t deny he’s always been under her spell. Will the duke give up his bachelor lifestyle and give into the fiery passion growing between them?
This might be one of my favorite historical romance reads ever! I adored the new family element in this book and the way Fredericka and Wyatt realize their feelings for one another.
The marriage-of-convenience trope was so well-written in this book and I loved the way two people living their separate lives grew to change their lifestyles a bit to open up and accept the other. The children in this book were fabulous characters as well and the topics such as childhood custody, grieving family members, and dealing with past ghosts and trauma were all present and interwoven perfectly into the story.
While this book is on the mild side of steamy, we do get some action that would make any London Lady fan themselves.
Overall, I adored this series and cannot wait to read the rest of this series when it comes out and explore some of Grey’s backlist!
*I received an ARC from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion.
Get ready to get bit by the travel bug while reading Trish Doller’s newest novel Off the Map, which comes out on March 7th. Centered around an adventurous main character and a love interest looking for a change in his life, readers will not really learn that it’s about the journey and not the destination.
Carla Black’s life motto is “here for a good time, not for a long time.” She’s been traveling the world on her own in her vintage Jeep Wrangler for nearly a decade, stopping only long enough to replenish her adventure fund. She doesn’t do love and she doesn’t ever go home. Eamon Sullivan is a modern-day cartographer who creates digital maps. His work helps people find their way, but he’s the one who’s lost his sense of direction. He’s unhappy at work, recently dumped, and his one big dream is stalled out—literally. Fate throws them together when Carla arrives in Dublin for her best friend’s wedding and Eamon is tasked with picking her up from the airport. But what should be a simple drive across Ireland quickly becomes complicated with chemistry-filled detours, unexpected feelings, and a chance at love - if only they choose it.
At first, I thought this book would be just a fun adventure romcom with a few steamy scenes, but this book turned out to be so much more.
While Carla and Eamon are an adorable couple that have an insta-love relationship, this book is more about Carla and how her lifestyle and upbringing make her who she is and what she wants her future to look like. And despite the insta-love factor, Carla and Eamon do go on a journey in discovering more about themselves through their love for one another.
Aside from the romantic love, Carla’s love of travel and her relationship with her father, Biggie, also play a big part in this novel and are so heartwarming to read about. Doller highlighting not just romantic love, but also familial and self-love just adds an extra layer of depth to the plot. Plus seeing cameos of Anna and Keane (from her first book Float Plan) was super fun to see!
This book will not only serve as a fun romance read, but will also remind you that life is what you make of it and that connections and memories can be found anywhere in the world.
*I received an ARC from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!