Tag: Contemporary Romance (Page 1 of 56)

BOOK REVIEW: The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

BOOK REVIEW: The Upside of Falling by Alex LightThe Upside of Falling Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

I mean, there’s a reason all books end right after the couple gets together. No one wants to keep reading long enough to see the happily ever after turn into an unhappily ever after. Right?

Thank you so much to Edelweiss, Harper TEEN and Alex Light for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Upside of Falling is an adorable book that plays with the fake relationship trope, which is easily one of my favorite tropes. So when I saw that there was a new book coming out with this front and center, I knew I had to have my hands on it. And once I had it, I read it in less than 24 hours haha. I couldn’t put it down.

TUoF centers on Becca Hart and Brett Wells. Becca loves to read romance books, but has never experienced true love in real life. She lives with her mother and helps with her local bakery. Becca doesn’t have too many close friends, especially since her former best friend found herself in the popular crowd and left Becca behind.

Brett Wells, meanwhile, seems to have everything going for him. He’s popular and captain of the football team. He’s smart and kind and his parents dote on him. However, he’s just focused on getting out of high school and securing a college scholarship to make his parents proud. He’s too busy to focus on normal high school things, like girlfriends, and has no problem with that.

That is, until one day when he hears Becca telling a lie about having a boyfriend, he decides to jump in and be that boyfriend. Becca is shocked but goes with it as well and the two come to an easy arrangement. Becca gets to have a popular boyfriend, while Brett gets his parents off his back about having a girlfriend without all the drama and commitment. What could go wrong?

“First you run away when I kiss you. Now you want to break up with me when we haven’t even been dating for a day. Way to break a guy’s heart, Hart.” He poked my leg. “See what I did there?”

I’ve never read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (sorry!) but I have seen the movie twice and there’s definitely some similarities in terms of them coming up with ground rules, assimilating between their worlds and the fact that both of them, not surprisingly, might begin to feel real feelings.

There’s a lot of wonderful themes in this book past teenagers falling in love for the first time, such as complicated friendships, how complicated relationships with parents can be and the feeling of rejection from those you care about.

If I had to provide any kind of constructive feedback, it mostly boils down to two things: It doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the genre and I wanted more from it. Don’t get me wrong, I adored this book, but I didn’t find anything, outside of maybe the complicated family dynamics, to be new and awe inspiring. I wish the trope had been twisted more, but I imagine that was not the author’s intent. And when I say more, I feel at 288 pages, it was a little light. I would have loved to see this be a little longer, so the relationship between Becca and Brett could have been more complex. It hit all the right notes, but I felt like it was skimming toward the top. I feel we could have gotten a little more in depth with these two and given the book a little more weight.

But overall, I adored this book. If you are looking for a fairly fluffy and happy YA romance, especially with the fake dating relationship trope, you won’t be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t.

The Upside of Falling is available February 18, 2020.

“I’m confused,” I said, “because one day we were strangers and then, bam, we were pretending to be in love. All these lines between what was real and what was fake started to blur and I can’t tell the two apart anymore.”

“Just because we were pretending doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.”

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Wrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay #8) by Jill Shalvis

I absolutely adored this book! So check out my review below and enter in a fabulous giveaway to win a copy of the first book in this series! Enjoy!

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Wrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay #8) by Jill ShalvisWrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay #8)
by Jill Shalvis
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads


It’s love. Trust me.

After a lifetime on the move, Ivy Snow is an expert in all things temporary—schools, friends, and way too many Mr. Wrongs. Now that she owns a successful taco truck in San Francisco and an apartment to call home, Ivy’s reinvented life is on solid ground. And she’s guarded against anything that can rock it. Like the realities of a past she’s worked hard to cover up. And especially Kel O’Donnell. Too hot not to set off alarms, he screams temporary. If only his whispers weren’t so delightfully naughty and irresistible.

Kel, an Idaho sheriff and ranch owner, is on vacay, but Ivy’s a spicy reason to give his short-term plans a second thought. Best of all, she’s a tonic for his untrusting heart, burned once and still in repair. But when Ivy’s past intrudes on a perfect romance, Kel fears that everything she’s told him has been a perfect lie. Now, if only Ivy’s willing to share, Kel will fight for a true love story.


Wrapped up in You was a feel good story that ended with the most perfect epilogue. It was so emotional that I had tears in my eyes and you couldn’t knock the smile off my face! If you aren’t familiar with the Heartbreaker Bay Series, each book can easily be read as a standalone. Each one is about a different friend finding their happily ever after, but I definitely recommend going back and reading the previous books in this series! I heart them so much! So if you adore love stories that are complex and heartfelt, a group of friends you want to be a part of and a hero that’ll make you swoon hard, then pick this one up!

She’d been making up stories about her family since she’d been little, each different, each more exciting than the last, and all as far from the truth as she could possibly get. Because the truth wasn’t a story, it was a nightmare.

I loved Ivy Snow in the previous book Playing for Keeps, since she was Sadie’s best friend. Ivy was sassy, tough and always helped others. And I loved that she took care of herself and ran the local taco truck. But while growing up, Ivy had a hard life. She was wounded and damaged from her past. Even her closest friend Sadie didn’t truly know all there was about her. But from the moment Ivy met Kel, there were sparks between them and just his presence alone threatened to tear down her high walls.

“Okay, I’ll give this to you—you’re funny. And maybe also sexy as hell, but this isn’t happening, Cowboy.”
He’d take sexy as hell any day of the week. “We’re just talking.”
“Uh-huh,” she said dryly.

Kel O’Donnell was the cousin of Caleb, who was engaged to Ivy’s best friend. He was a cowboy from Idaho, who was on a two week leave from being a sheriff. I quickly fell for Kel, it was so effortless. He was a good guy who was protective of his friends and jumped right into situations to help others. But there was so much mystery surrounding this man. From why he was taking a leave to what was going on with his family that lived in SF. While we slowly started to learn about his past, I just wanted to hug and protect him, and never let him go.

He hadn’t had much to smile about in a damn long time, but something about Ivy, hell, everything about Ivy made him feel . . . lighter.

Kel and Ivy felt like two peas in a pod. They were both damaged by their pasts and jaded from family. Plus they both had huge walls around their hearts. But any time they were together, sparks flew and their banter made me smile and laugh. It all felt so natural, but at the same time magical. And while Ivy tried to put up a fight, to not let him get to her, I loved that she started to waiver when mystery and suspense took hold of her life. But he was supposed to head back home to Idaho after two weeks in San Francisco. And while Ivy had never put roots down, this was the first time she truly had a home and friends.

He stroked the pad of his thumb over her lower lip, kissed it again and then did what he didn’t want to do, what he was starting to realize he would never want to do—leave her.

Wrapped up in You was a complex love story that will pull at your heart. Ivy and Kel both made mistakes with each other and they had a very bumpy path. And while this was an emotional story, there was the banter, tentative friendship and heat between Kel and Ivy that rounded out this story perfectly. Plus their friends added so much lightness too. So yes, I absolutely adored this book and I can’t wait to read the next one in the Heartbreaker Bay Series!

Buy Links:


Read the First Chapter:

Read the First Chapter at https://www.jillshalvis.com/excerpts/wrapped-up-in-you

About Jill Shalvis:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she’s also a two-time RITA winner and has more than 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.



Win a digital copy of the first book in this series, Sweet Little Lies!

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BOOK REVIEW: Kickin’ It (Red Card #2) by Rachel Van Dyken

BOOK REVIEW: Kickin’ It (Red Card #2) by Rachel Van DykenKickin' It (Red Card #2)
by Rachel Van Dyken
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads


Love breaks the offside rule in New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken’s irresistibly sexy Red Card romance.

Successful, high-profile sports agent Matt Kingston thinks he can handle anything. Then soccer player Parker Speedman shows up at his door. She is young and gorgeous, has natural talent, and is looking for a team. She’s also a hothead with a punchy past who floored her last coach on live TV. Despite his misgivings, Matt agrees to be both her agent and her coach. Professional common sense says she’s off-limits. But what can he say about the raw attraction between them?

Parker plays soccer with her heart and soul. But after the events of the last year, she’s shaken. She’s already seen what a powerful man can do to a female athlete’s career. And her beloved dream is in the hands of a sexy, gorgeous man with the uncanny ability to slip past her defenses…and into her heart.

Now Matt and Parker are about to learn that when it comes to love, the only way to win is by breaking every rule they know. And by playing nice. Real nice.


Kickin It was fun, flirty and I couldn’t stop smiling or laughing.  With deep and meaningful friendships, characters who came alive off of the pages and a romance that had me constantly begging for more, this book was a solid win!  While Kickin It can easily be read as a standalone, I highly recommend you also read, Risky Play. They’re both a ton of fun and if you’re looking for books to take to the beach, look no further!

“Behave.” His breath was hot on my ear. “I don’t know you. In fact, I’m instantly regretting letting you into my house, but this night is important. These people may be friends, but they’re still clients. Respect them or I’m finding you a nice cardboard box to call home in downtown Seattle. Got it?” 
I sucked in a breath. “You would steal a box from people who are truly homeless?”
“What did I do to deserve this?” He looked toward the sky and then shook his head.

I adored Matt Kingston from Risky Play.  He was such a thoughtful, caring and considerate man.  But he was also ruthless in the work world and he owned a highly successful business of managing sports players.  There was an edge to him and while he could be a dickhead, he loved his sister fiercely.  So when his sister, Willow, asked him if she could work for his company over the summer, he gave in.  But Matt had no clue what he was getting himself into lol. Willow brought her bestie Parker Speedman to live at Matt’s house with her.  And Parker and Matt didn’t get off on a good foot at all.

She was pretty when she smiled, but she didn’t do it often enough. 
And it made me wonder too much. 
It made me want to dig when I had no business digging. 

Parker Speedman was sassy and bold, but she was also hurt and broken from the past.  She wanted to play professional soccer more than anything, but her past reputation of punching her coach didn’t have teams lining up for her.  Even though she was an amazing player. So when Matt agreed to be her agent, Parker was finally within reach of her dreams.  

“Good thing we aren’t friends,” Parker piped up, her venom directed at me. And all I could conjure up was an image of us being anything but friendly in the shower. 
And me pulling her hair. 
Running my hands over— 
I locked eyes with her and whispered gruffly, “Good thing.”

Not only was there a ton of banter between Matt and Parker, but there was attraction too.  But Parker is focused on her goal, to be signed by a soccer team. And Matt needed to just be her agent, nothing more.  Well until he also agreed to be her trainer too. Between living and training together, it was hard for them to keep the lines from not being blurred.  Even if they were still fighting and throwing jabs at each other. But that didn’t matter because any time they were together, that attraction was there.  It helped that they both had ridiculously high walls, but spending that much time together meant walls would eventually crumble a little.  And any time they got emotionally closer to the other, it felt like the hugest victory ever.

“Also, stay far, far away from Willow.”
“I love the name Willow.” Jagger stared me down. 
“I have no problem shoving you off my yacht and dumping a bucket of blood in afterward for good measure.”
“Graphic.” Jagger grinned. “I like it.” 
Slade stood. “What’s for lunch?”
“You aren’t staying for lunch.”
“I’ll get the plates!” Jagger followed.

One of the gems I always find in Rachel Van Dyken’s books are the friendships.  Not only the one that the hero and heroine form, but the ones they have with their friends.  Parker and Willow’s friendship felt so real and was filled with tons of love. And then there was Matt with Jagger and Slade.  The three of them were brutally honest with each other and had the others back. But Matt, Slade and Jagger also messed with one other, and there were so many moments that had me laughing hysterically.  I love that Rachel Van Dyken is the queen of writing friendships that are deep and real. 

Our eyes locked. 
Off-limits. She’s off-limits. 
I just never realized how much.

On top of the friendships, banter, and chemistry there was also a side love story between two characters.  I can’t say who, but know that it was hilarious, smile inducing and absolutely everything!  It added so much to this story and the epilogue at the end of this book was absolutely perfect!  Kickin It was such a huge score!  I loved every single minute of it and I can’t recommend this book or series enough!

PS We don’t learn much about Chief Johnny Alfero but I need MORE!  He seems like a man who has miles of secrets and I was obsessed! I’m hoping he gets a story!!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Make Me Bad by R. S. Grey

BOOK REVIEW: Make Me Bad by R. S. GreyMake Me Bad Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads


I was issued a warning: stay away from Ben Rosenberg.

As Clifton Cove’s resident “king”, he thinks he’s entitled to anyone and anything.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my whole life following the rules and playing it safe. I know what it feels like to be the good girl. I’m the police chief’s daughter and a librarian—for adorable children, no less.

An all-nighter with a fictional hunk is about as exciting as my life gets until one day, fate decides to take pity on me and shove me straight into the path of Mr. Off-Limits himself.

Just as I suspected, every inch of him promises to be my demise. Up close, he’s tall, menacing—a lawyer who looks like he’ll bite. A well-behaved girl would do as she’s told and avoid him at all costs, but I’m overdue for a little rebellion.

So, I ignore the warning and throw caution to the wind. But Ben doesn’t just nudge me out of my comfort zone—he thrusts me into a dark corner and presses his hard body against mine, covering my mouth with his hand to ensure we don’t get caught sneaking around. In that moment, I finally understand why everyone thinks he’s going to ruin me.

To him, this is all a game.
He wants to tempt me with his dares and taunt me with his words.
I should play along. After all, I asked him to make me bad. I just never thought he’d take his job quite so seriously...


“Eli! Ahem, Eli!”
I turn to see a short elderly woman holding a book outstretched toward the guy talking my ear off. 
“Eli,” she says, tone stern, chin raised. “This book has a tear right down the first page. I think it’s only fair that I get to keep it—for free.” 
I turn back in time to see Eli roll his eyes. “That’s the fifth book this month. Mrs. Taylor, if you keep tearing up our books, we’re going to cut up your library card.”

That’s it. I can now say without a doubt that if you’re looking for a feel good romantic comedy, R. S. Grey is the one for you. While they’re all not mind blowingly life-changing, you can be sure that they have all warmed my heart and have made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions. This book is no exception and I’m so glad I picked it up as a cure to my Red, White & Royal Blue hangover.

“What kind of law do you practice again?” I ask, perusing his suit. 
He squeezes my hand and then lets it drop. “Corporate.” 
“Pity. You look like you should be putting criminals behind bars. Very intimidating today, like you’ll bite.”

I felt like I easily connected to this book (and especially Madison) for a few different reasons. For one, I also work in a library as a librarian–though I do have a few thoughts on that later. For another, I had a pretty strict family and while I moved out of my house as soon as I was in college, I can sympathize with Madison’s inner struggles when it came to being torn over becoming “bad” and living life but also not wanting to disappoint make any waves with her dad and brother.

Quickly back to the library aspect–while I always get really excited when I find out there’s a librarian character, I feel like there are a lot of times when I can clearly tell that the author doesn’t quite know what it is that a librarian ~does~. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Grey has either been to a library or did some research because it wasn’t far off base–there were just some aspects that felt off to me. I’m probably just being picky though. If the library that Madison worked at was smaller, then her wide range of duties make sense to me. If it was bigger, then no??? Like it seemed like she was doing story times, other children’s programs, working the help desk, shelving books–basically a LOT of stuff. There’s no way that if that library served a good sized community that she would have the time to do all of that stuff. BUT I DIGRESS. That stuff is only going *maybe* going to bother a person who works as a librarian haha. It’s such a small thing I easily ignored it. Especially when Madison had such killer story times and made Ben dress up as Mr. Darcy lollll.

“Are you almost done?” I ask. My voice sounds like it came out of a mouse. 
“Not if you don’t stand still. 
His hands grip my waist and he squeezes. 
Apparently, I’m fidgeting. Hot. Bothered. 
He ties the laces together at the bottom and steps back. 
I turn around and hold out my arms. “What do you think?” 
He clears his throat, glances away, and when he looks back, his gaze is narrowed. “I think it’s a little much for a toddler story time.” 
I glance down and laughter erupts out of me. “Oh jeez.” 
My breasts have been pushed up and forced together to form a tantalizing amount of cleavage. Even I’m slightly turned on by the sight. I look like a serving wench.

Ben was definitely a very enjoyable hero. I always like a good story line where the guy “teaches” the heroine sexy times or in this case–how to be bad. I mean, in Madison’s case the stuff wasn’t even that bad…it more of like she just wanted to live. I loved their texts and how Ben egged her on. The scene when she was getting her tattoo and he was drawing words on her hand with his finger WAS ADORABLE. He was wonderfully serious and occasionally grumpy which I always weirdly like, too haha. I am also happy to report that this is another instance of a good love story where there is no “misunderstanding” between the two. Gosh I have really come to hate that. Overall, very sweet, hilarious, and a quick read. Basically if you’re ever in need of a pick me up or are on a beach somewhere wanting a string of light reads, all of her books are for you!

“Ugh, do I have to go?” 
It really is embarrassing. 
Ben stands and hooks his hands under my arms, forcing me. “C’mon, I’ll help you.” 
We all know what that means. We’ve seen the movies. Ben’s going to stand behind me a little too close, touch me a little inappropriately, all in the name of sport. And, of course, because our friends are all mature adults, they whistle and catcall us as Ben moves up behind me. 
“Oh yeah, Ben, show her how it’s done,” Andy says. 
Ben flips him off. 
“Oh, I’m not sure, Ben—do I stand like this?” Arianna mocks and okay, she’s funny, and I like her. Also, how dare she?

BOOK REVIEW: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

BOOK REVIEW: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuistonRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Purchase on: Amazon
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Add to: Goodreads


A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends...

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?


*These quotes are from an ARC and are subject to change before the publication date*

Alex throws his head back and laughs handsomely, loud and false.
“Go fuck yourself.”
“Hardly enough time,”
 Henry says.

I’m just going to hit the ground running here by saying that this is now one of my favorite books of all time. I honestly don’t even know how I’m supposed to review this?? Other than to just do my usual fangirl flail and hope I properly can get my feelings across to all of you about this wonderful, beautiful book.

“Prince Henry is a biscuit,” Nora says, “let him sop you up.”
“I’m leaving.”

The first thing you guys need to know to get into the proper mind frame for this book is that it’s based in an America that, instead of having Trump as our 45th president, we have a woman named Ellen Claremont who has two children, Alex and June, who are biracial. What that means is basically this is a dream America that I hope to someday actually live in. ANYWAY. Alex is our local FSOTUS prince charming and is “mortal enemies” with another prince charming across the pond in England, named Henry. SHLKGSEIOGHWOPEBEOPGHSEIOGHEBSIGFSIEG. I don’t know how many of you have seen Umbrella Academy but personally I pictured Alex as the guy who played Diego (David Castañeda). They even have bits of similar personality traits, too. HENRY. Henry. Henry is THE EPITOME of a SMOL cinnamon roll who is too. Good. For. This. Earth. You can even quote me on that. Their relationship together is….so damn good you guys. They start out as “enemies,” become tentative friends, to best friends, to….so so so much.

The song crossfades into another buh-duh dum-dum-dum, dum-duh-dum duh-duh-dum–
“Shut up,” Alex yells, cutting off whatever else Henry was saying, “shut your dumb face this is my shit!” He throws his hands up in the air as Henry stares at him blankly, and around them, people start cheering too, hundreds of shoulders shimmying to the shouty, Lil Jon-flavored nostalgia of “Get Low.”

^^The quote above is from one of my favorite scenes of the book (well basically they are all favorites but…you get it) and leads me to the cast of supporting characters. June, Nora, Pez, LITERALLY EVERYONE is soo good. I love June and Alex’s relationship, and their friendship with Nora, and Henry and Pez ugh. Like I have never been a partier, and especially not now after having a baby but let me tell you, I would go out to the bar for some karaoke and dirty dancing with these idiots ANY TIME. Good lord they know how to have a good time. I just want them all in my real life.

He tilts the phone over towards the driver’s seat. “Say good morning to your strumpet, Henry.”
“Good morning, strumpet,” Henry says, glancing away from the road to wink at the camera.

It’s really hard for me to believe that this is McQuiston’s first book. Her writing was ADDICTING. Her story, dialogue, characters—all of it. I have already put her on an auto-read/buy list because of this book. I don’t even know how to express how happy this book made me. On the first day that I read a huge chunk I literally walked around all day with a huge-ass stupid smile on my face that wouldn’t leave for anything. I finished the book and felt so light. My heart was ten times bigger than it was when I started. I told one of my blog-mates, Cassie, who has also read it, that it’s one of those books where after you’ve read it you just know that your life had been missing out on something and you didn’t even know it until right at that second when you finish. It just has everything. It has great LGBTQIA rep, it has the FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT, it has politics (both American and English), it has people struggling with their identities in a hundred of different ways that the average person can relate to, it has sexy e-mails, it has FAMILY, and it has one of the greatest, sweetest love story I’ve ever read. What more could you ever ask for? Please please PLEASE, I’m down on my knees, begging you to read this book once it comes out. You won’t regret it.

June plucks away at “Annie’s Song,” you fill up my senses like a night in a forest, and the breeze keeps moving to meet the highest branches of the trees, and the water keeps rising to meet the bulkheads, and Henry leans down to meet Alex’s mouth, and Alex is. Well, Alex is so in love he could die.

HUGE thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin and NetGalley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review! ♥

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