What I Read: Nov. 28-Dec. 4

A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple #6) by Agatha Christie: A good mystery with interesting characters, basically the formula for a good Agatha Christie book. Looking forward to continuing the Miss Marple series in 2023 (and eventually getting back into the Poirot books!)

The Governess Game (Girls Meets Duke #2) by Tessa Dare: This might be the best Tessa Dare book I’ve read so far. Chase Reynaud is so delightfully written – a rake with heart. And the kids in the book are adorable and hilarious (which isn’t usually the case…) This made me laugh out loud multiple times and i’m very excited for book three.

Scandalized by Ivy Owens: This started off strong and then…fizzled out. The stakes of the underlying conflict were WAY too high and honestly a little too dark for what I prefer in my contemporary romance. The pacing seemed a bit off, too.

A Very Merry Bromance (Bromance Book Club #5) by Lyssa Kay Adams: I was very much looking forward to Colton’s book and he sure didn’t disappoint. This was incredibly heartwarming without being cheesy* and had cozy holiday vibes without feeling like Christmas threw up all over the place. *The cheesiest part is the Cheese Man cameo, and i’m pretty sure he might be getting his own book!? IYKYK

Dirty Deeds (Irresistible #3) by Stella Rhys: I enjoyed this because it was interesting enough to hold my attention and quick enough that I read it in one day. It’s not particularly remarkable or memorable, but I’ve heard book six is the best in the series, so I’ll be picking that up soon.

What I Read: Nov. 21-27

Witches Get Stitches (Stay a Spell #3) by Juliette Cross: I’ll be honest, this was my least favorite book of the series so far. There’s not one thing in particular (it’s well-written and fits perfectly with the series as a whole), but I think it was just a bit too long for me and I’ve learned that I don’t really care to read more than one werewolf-adjacent romance (the first book in the series has that covered!) However, I will definitely read the rest of the series – I’m excited for a grim as a male lead in the next book, and I cannot wait to finally get to Jules’ and Ruben’s story!

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone: This was a cute, funny holiday romance with a fun plot – a Hallmark-ish movie with some not-so-Hallmark-ish leads. However, there was a LOT of potential here and it missed the mark a bit (especially considering it’s more than 400 pages!)

Drinking Games by Sarah Levy: Absolutely loved this brave, open memoir from Sarah Levy. She uses her struggles with alcohol as a jumping-off point, but she also discusses the darker sides of other (seemingly innocent) aspects of life: social media usage, obsessions with clothing/image, skincare, the “wellness” industry, etc. I think most women (especially millennials) will find something relatable in this book. Thank you St. Martin’s Press for the ARC!

What I Read: Nov. 14-20

In the Event of Love (Fern Falls #1) by Courtney Kae: Please sign me up for all of the small-town romance books. Fern Falls is SO dreamy. If you’re ready for snowy, cozy holiday reads (this isn’t aggressively holiday themed, but it does take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas) you’ll want to add this to your tbr. Plus, there’s really good setup for book two. Thank you Kensington for the ARC!

The Wrong Mr. Right (The Queen’s Cove Series #2) by Stephanie Archer: This started off strong for me, but fizzled out a bit by the end. However, it’s a really sweet (and moderately spicy) book set in an adorable beach-side town, and it’s available on Kindle Unlimited which is always a plus.

Heartbreaker (Hell’s Belles #2) by Sarah MacLean: This might be one of my new favorite series. I enjoyed the first book, but I was most excited for Adelaide and Imogen’s stories (Adelaide is the lead in Heartbreaker and Imogen’s book is next!) This was so much fun, and had the right amount of seriousness without feeling weighed down. Henry is an adorable duke who has a few surprises up his sleeve, and you can’t help but root for and love Adelaide. Thank you Avon for the ARC!

Walk on the Wilder Side (Wilder Adventures #2) by Serena Bell: This was a quick read, but the pacing and tone felt a bit inconsistent. There’s a LOT of humor early on involving Rachel’s mom’s business, but that entire plot feels a bit shoved to the side by the middle of the book. Brody’s “bad boy” persona felt a bit more tell than show (however, I didn’t read the first book, so I may have missed some substantial setup for his character). There’s also a pretty major plot featuring a baby (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s revealed pretty early on) that I didn’t really care for (it was sweet, but just not my thing).

What I Read: Nov. 7-13

The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis: I absolutely loved Dear Emmie Blue (also by Lia Louis) so I was really excited to give this a read. The story is sweet and emotional, with flawed characters you’ll love to root for. This dragged a bit in the middle for me, but the ending is *chef’s kiss* PERFECTION. Thank you Atria for the ARC!

The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller: This book took me by surprise and I absolutely LOVED it. I expected it to be a bit more gothic and a little less romantic (it’s also unexpectedly funny at times?) but it’s absolutely perfect. Alva puts on a brave face despite her internal struggles, and Sam is a top-tier book boyfriend (major golden retriever energy here, if that’s your thing). Highly HIGHLY recommend this to anyone, especially readers who find traditional historical romance to be a bit too stuffy.

Some Dukes Have All the Luck (Synneful Spinsters #1) by Christina Britton: This was SUCH a delight. Sure, Ash is a great male lead, but Bronwyn is really the shining star in this book. She just wants to study bugs and be appreciated and loved. I really enjoyed the Isle of Synne setting, so I’ll be adding Britton’s previous series to my tbr. Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

Going Rogue (Stephanie Plum #29) by Janet Evanovich: The Stephanie Plum series is delightfully formulaic (especially at almost 30 books), and it’s always hilarious. I can’t complain about a good, reliable read that makes me laugh out loud. Also, this book is solely responsible for making me buy a single Boston Cream donut on a Saturday morning and eating it in my car, so thanks Janet. (Disclaimer: This is not sarcasm, I really loved that donut.) Thank you Atria for the finished copy!

What I Read: Oct. 31-Nov. 6

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier: This started off really promising and then it just kind of made me feel icky (also, I figured out the “twist” way too early for it to have any real impact once revealed). If you’re looking for a book with the same vibes as Rebecca, this ain’t it.

The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams: This book made me irrationally angry. It had SO MUCH promise and then it took a massive left turn into complete cheese territory (and not even good, charcuterie plate-worthy cheese. Like movie theater, liquid “cheese” that comes with a side of too-salty tortilla chips or questionably greasy pretzel bites). If the setup for this was a delicious, cozy plate of pasta with a large glass of red wine, the execution was more like off-brand Easy Mac with a flat can of RC Cola.

Single and Ready to Jingle by Piper Rayne: I may not be ready to put up my Christmas decorations quite yet, but I am more than ready for all the holiday romance reads! Single and Ready to Jingle DELIVERS. It’s adorable, it’s funny, it’s emotional. For the record, the holiday version of sunshine/grump is sugarplum/Grinch, and TRUST ME you will fall in love with Kenzie and Andrew. Thank you Valentine PR for the ARC!

To Catch a Raven (Women Who Dare #3) by Beverly Jenkins: Ms. Bev is a legend in romancelandia, and To Catch a Raven was a really lovely read. Raven and Braxton are mature adults who don’t play games – they’re open with their emotions (I mean, to a point, we do need a little bit of mutual pining to make the work!) and the main conflict in this story is purely external. This was probably one of the most historically accurate historical romances I’ve ever read, so I felt like I was actually learning something while also enjoying a well-crafted love story. Thank you Avon for the ARC!

What I Read: Oct. 24-30

Come As You Are by Jess K Hardy: This romcom is perfect for people who love cozy winter settings, forced proximity, a male lead who has overcome a difficult past, mature main characters and lovable (truly!) side characters. Oh, and there’s a villain who definitely gets what’s coming to them. The vibes are 90s grunge (but set in present day), the perfect blend of mixtapes and flannel. Thank you to the author for the NetGalley ARC!

Don’t Hex and Drive (Stay a Spell #2) by Juliette Cross: Overall, I enjoyed this even more than the first book. Isadora and Devraj were absolutely fabulous characters and I loved the mystery they worked to solve (alongside Jules and Ruben, who are likely going to be my favorite couple of the entire series – their book is out today!) I’ll be picking up book three in November (and there’s a collection of short stories perfect for the holidays so I won’t waste time getting to that, either!)

Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton: I preordered this MONTHS ago and it’s definitely worth the read. Felton discusses his interesting life in a series of stories – most are funny but some are incredibly emotional (and surprisingly dark). Absolutely essential reading for HP fans, especially if you’re around the same age as the actors and grew up with the series.

Isn’t it Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club #4) by Lyssa Kay Adams: I went in thinking that this was going to be my favorite book of the series (who doesn’t love The Russian?) but unfortunately it didn’t fully meet my expectations. I did enjoy Vlad and Elena’s journey and their story is really sweet, but it just wasn’t quite as good as the other books, in my opinion. However, I felt like this was really setting us up for Colton’s book, which comes out this week (and it’s Christmas-themed, so absolutely perfect for this time of year!)

What I Read: Oct. 17-23

The Kiss Curse (The Ex Hex #2) by Erin Sterling: While I didn’t enjoy this QUITE as much as The Ex Hex, I really loved Wells. Overall, both of these books are perfect October reads.

In the Weeds (Lovelight #2) by BK Borison: When I was reading Lovelight Farms, I was convinced that Beckett was going to be my favorite. I did enjoy Evie and Beckett’s story, but the first book takes the top spot for me (we’ll see how I feel about Mixed Signals!)

Duke Most Wicked (Wallflowers vs. Rogues #3) by Lenora Bell: This was a fun historical romance that did feel a teensy bit repetitive at times, but was completely redeemed by West’s crew of hilarious, adorable sisters. I’m definitely interested in reading more from this author! Thank you Avon Books for the ARC!

And Yet by Kate Baer: Poetry isn’t my jam, but Kate Baer’s brand of introspection sure is. If you already love her, you’ll love this. Thank you Harper Perennial for the finished copy!

What I Read: Oct. 10-16

Royally Screwed (Royally #1) by Emma Chase: This was such a pleasant surprise! Nicholas and Olivia were great characters individually and as a couple. Although the plot goes exactly where you’d expect, it’s still a fun journey getting there. I’m particularly excited for Logan’s bookThank you Valentine PR for the finished copy!

They Do It with Mirrors (Miss Marple #5) by Agatha Christie: I’m making decent progress on my attempt to read all of Agatha Christie’s books (trying to stick with one a month). They Do It with Mirrors was an interesting semi-locked room sort of mystery (really more of a secluded estate…) and, as of right now, it falls right in the middle of my ranking of the Marple series. For what it’s worth, I have seven more books to read in this series and they seem to (mostly) be getting better as they go.

Wolf Gone Wild (Stay a Spell #1) by Juliette Cross: This series is PERFECT for spooky season. Wolf Gone Wild focuses on Evie (one of the well-known Savoie witches) and Mateo (a werewolf with a problem. And a frustrating alter-ego…) Although this was a BIT too long at times, I enjoyed the story as a whole and i’m excited to read the rest of the series. I found this to be a good read for people who enjoyed Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day, but aren’t QUITE on board with the monster romance genre.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna: This is such a cozy little read, primarily focused on found family with a dash of romance and a heavy dose of witchy goodness. Every single character in this book is huggable, and I particularly loved Jamie (i’m a sucker for a grump with a gooey center!) Thank you Once Upon a Book Club for the finished copy and box of goodies!

It’s a Widow Thing (Never Too Late #3) by Karen Booth: This was a mostly sweet, relatively low-drama romance (it helps that both leads are in their 40s) but clocking in at less than 220 pages, it did feel a little bit underdeveloped. Also, content warning for some fairly in-depth discussions about the death of a spouse.

What I Read: Oct. 3-9

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill: This was just so depressing. It wasn’t particularly creepy, just sad (the last few pages were pretty terrifying but not really in a “horror” way). It’s a short book, so if you’re really interested then give it a go. If you’re on the fence, i’d recommend skipping this one.

Go Hex Yourself (Hex #1) by Jessica Clare: This was a fun read for October but it felt a little disjointed at times. I enjoyed it enough to want to read the next book in the series.

Sign Here by Claudia Lux: The main thing you need to know about Sign Here is I read it in one day – the chapters are short and the story is intriguing enough to keep you moving through at a fast pace. I did end up with a few questions once I finished, but this is a wild ride from start to finish and it’s a DEBUT which is pretty impressive. I’ve seen this recommended for fans of Grady Hendrix and that feels like the best way to describe the vibes of this book.

Lovelight Farms (Lovelight #1) by BK Borison: I absolutely LOVED this book! Luka is a top-tier book boyfriend, the Christmas tree farm setting is perfect and I cannot wait to read Beckett’s story! In all honesty, I’m ready to follow BK Borison off of a cliff (or, to be a bit less dramatic, immediately read everything she writes from here on out).

A Week to be Wicked (Spindle Cove #2) by Tessa Dare: Even though I DNFed book one, for some reason I thought that I would enjoy this one (it seems to be the Spindle Cove fan favorite). It started off really strong – I loved both of our main characters and there were some hilarious moments that made the reading experience fun. However, I started to lose interest about 70% of the way through, and I just kind of dragged myself across the finish line. I’m starting to think that Tessa Dare might be a real hit-or-miss author for me vs. a sure win.

What I Read: Sept. 26-Oct. 2

A Murder is Announced (Miss Marple #4) by Agatha Christie: This was probably the best in the series so far. The mystery was interesting, the characters were fun and Miss Marple finally felt like a real amateur detective instead of just an insufferable know-it-all. This does take place around Halloween, but it really could have been set at any time of the year — there are no Halloween mentions or vibes.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: This was…fine? It’s been on my list for awhile and I may have enjoyed it more if I had read it earlier in my contemporary romance journey. Michael was a bit too pushy at times (given Stella’s issues) and Stella felt almost childlike at times, which is not great for a romance novel.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: This is the coziest, loveliest little fantasy novel. You don’t have to be a fan of fantasy to enjoy this (fantasy is not my particular jam either). The plot is relatively light (orc leaves her violent past behind to open a cafe) but there’s enough substance there to keep the reader interested. If you’re looking for a low-drama, feel-good book, this is it.

Open Hearts (Bennett Sisters #2) by Eve Dangerfield: I really have a love/hate relationship with this book. I really enjoyed Dean, aka the dumbest, sweetest male lead in a romance novel. However, Ashley wasn’t my favorite and the overall plot felt a bit loose and unpolished at times. (Also this has easily one of the worst romcom book covers I’ve ever seen.)

Against a Wall (Stonecut County #2) by Cate C. Wells: I read this almost against my better judgment — Cash Wall is NOT my type (for a multitude of reasons) but I still find him incredibly charming and sweet. This isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s a fairly well-written contemporary romance (and it’s on Kindle Unlimited, which is always a plus!)