REVIEW – Back in the Burbs by Tracy Wolff and Avery Flynn

I had SO much fun reaching Back in the Burbs – it’s hilarious and heartfelt. Mallory’s life is a mess (no, really). She’s in the middle of dealing with a difficult divorce AND her favorite aunt has just passed away. However, when she learns that great-aunt Maggie left Mallory her house, she decides it’s time to take her life into her own hands and start fresh.

This is…easier said than done. Great-aunt Maggie’s house needs work. A LOT of work. And the cute guy across the street is a little bit rude.

This story ended up being more complex than I anticipated, and it was such a happy surprise. Back in the Burbs doesn’t get bogged down by the details – and while it covers a few heavier topics, it remains relatively lighthearted overall, with ample amounts of humor sprinkled throughout each chapter.

If you’re looking for a good summer or vacation read, this is it! Thank you Entangled Publishing and Valentine PR for sending me a copy of this book.

REVIEW – A Rogue to Remember by Emily Sullivan

I’m still new to historical romance but slowly reading more (and buying more…) and A Rogue to Remember was a great debut from Emily Sullivan. Lottie and Alex are characters you can root for – both running from complicated pasts and uncertain (or certain and awful) futures. I’d consider this a great book for those new to the genre – if you’re thinking of giving historical romance a try, start with this one!

I’m also excited for the next book in the series – we get a relatively small glimpse of Rafe in this book, but he definitely makes an impression.

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley

Let’s cut to the chase – i’m already excited for book two of this series! I’m a new romance reader and I never thought historical romance would be a genre that I enjoyed, but here we are. If you watched or read Bridgerton and found yourself looking for something to fill the gap before season two, this is the book you need in your life.

We’re introduced to the Wild Wynchesters – a ragtag group of former orphans who were taken in by a kind, wealthy man with no family of his own. Each sibling has a particular skill or ability, and as a group, they’re unstoppable (and whip-smart, and hilarious and endearing…I could go on).

The Duke Heist focuses primarily on Chloe, who is really fantastic at…being forgettable. Truly. She’s been introduced to the same people multiple times, without a hint of recognition on their part. She blends seamlessly into “polite” society and uses this ability to try to steal back a painting that was wrongfully taken from her family months prior.

When Chloe accidentally abducts (seriously!) the Duke of Faircliffe, it throws a wrench in her plans…and in his.

Thank you Forever Publishing for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – The Roommate by Rosie Danan

Phew, okay. I had seen a lot of positive reviews for The Roommate, but I didn’t think i’d love it this much! It’s surprisingly sweet (but with no lack of spice…) Clara and Josh are fun a lovable, and i’m excited that Naomi is getting her own book later this year.

The Roommate features Josh who is a…uhh…”performer” with a heart of gold (no, really) and Clara, who is a seemingly uptight, prim and proper socialite from the East Coast. Be prepared to love these characters! Be prepared for some VERY open door scenes (if that’s not your cup of tea, steer clear). And be prepared for a feminist novel that will have you laughing and cheering and swooning all at once.

REVIEW – Always Only You by Chloe Liese

Chloe Liese does it again! I enjoyed the first Bergman Brothers book (Always Only You) so I knew this would be a great choice. Frankie and Ren are delightful as separate characters and, of course, they’re amazing together. Frankie is a big softie under that guarded exterior, and Ren can get pretty fired up even though he seems like a big happy teddy bear.

Liese handles differently-abled and neurodiverse characters so well – and she’s right: everyone deserves a love story. And, as always, the Bergman family is delightful and I love spending time with them.

REVIEW – The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

I figured I would like this book, but I didn’t expect to absolutely LOVE it. What a fun read! Gavin and Thea are adorable and you can’t help but root for them. Yes, they have a lot of issues (mostly due to poor communication, shocker) but their growth throughout the course of the story feels relatively realistic.

Every character is a delight – the guys in the book club are hilarious and sweet. Anything that can make me laugh out loud but also make me feel a lot of feelings is a winner for me. I am so grateful that this is a series – I can’t wait to spend more time with the Bromance Book Club!

REVIEW – The Duke and I (Bridgerton) by Julia Quinn

Let’s get this out of the way first: Lady Whistledown is 100% Regency-era Gossip Girl. If that alone appeals to you, give this book a shot. You’re probably already interested in reading this anyway because the Netflix adaptation is pretty much the only thing anyone can talk about right now.

However, there are some great and not-so-great things about The Duke and I…

The good: The relationships at the heart of this book are lovely. The Bridgerton family is adorable and hilarious, and they’re honestly even better in the Netflix show. Lady Danbury is one of my favorite characters – she’s feisty, tough and funny. Simon (uhh SWOON) is arrogant and lovable and YES i’m aware of the spoon scene in the show.

The bad: There’s a controversial scene that many readers have already discussed. It’s icky and out of character, and honestly feels out of place in the overall story (and the tone of novel takes such a shift in the second half). If Quinn wanted to create conflict, she could have taken one of practically a million different avenues.

However, I am willing to continue in the series because I was really loving this book up until that point and assume it does get a bit better as the books go on.

REVIEW – The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell and Allyson Charles

What a lovely little fall book! This was right book, right time for me. I was looking for something cozy and lovely to read in the midst of horrific and thrilling October books, and this fit the bill.

The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice includes three shorter stories: Sweet Magic, Love Spells Disaster and Sweet On You. These all tie in together in some way – they all take place during the same relative time span, leading up to the town’s annual Halloween parade. And in each story, we get to visit Bellaluna’s Bakeshop – a cozy spot in Moonlight, Maine, that has a reputation for helping people fall in love.

There’s a touch of magic at work here (magic cookies? Sign me up!) and, honestly, a bit more steam than I anticipated (this was a pleasant surprise). If you’re more interested in closed-door/fade-to-black romance reads, worry not – this is steamy but relatively tame.

Thank you Kensington Books and Goodreads for the giveaway win!

REVIEW – Beach Read by Emily Henry

“When the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear.”

Beach Read is a much heavier rom-com than you’re probably expecting. After the death of her father reveals some uncomfortable secrets, January heads to the shores of Lake Michigan to stay at her father’s second home and work on writing her latest novel. When she encounters her “rival” Augustus Everett, their feud quickly blooms into friendship (and more).

There’s so much to love about Beach Read. The interactions between January and Gus feel realistic. Their relationship progresses at a steady pace – not so fast that it feels insta-lovey, but quick enough to keep the plot moving. There’s a lot of sadness in this book, and it’s dealt with in an authentic way.

There are also some delightfully funny bits! I loved Pete and her book club. I loved the early donut “non-date.” Ultimately, Beach Read is cute but not TOO cute, you know?

Content warning: breast cancer, death of a parent, infidelity, brief mentions of abuse.

REVIEW – Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese

Okay, maybe i’m convinced. Contemporary romance might just be for me – and i’m officially on the Chloe Liese/Bergman Brothers bandwagon. Willa and Ryder’s story is fun and compelling. Willa is a spitfire – and can honestly be kind of a jerk most of the time. Ryder is just a fluffy marshmallow. He’s a bit closed off, but he’s also been dealing with hearing loss after a severe illness a few years prior.

Ryder’s family is THE BEST. I want to hang out with them. I want to live with them. I want to celebrate holidays with them. They’re fun and sweet and hilarious. Also, Willa’s mom is badass and such lovely character.

Yes, there’s a decent amount of steam in this book (as a newer/more casual romance reader, I don’t have much to compare it to). And yes, Liese has PERFECTED the slow, agonizing build, but the payoff is more than worth the wait and the “JUST KISS ALREADY” moments.

Something I think is really worth noting because it impressed the hell out of me: the interactions in this book feel so real and authentic. Liese has perfected the use of dialogue in a contemporary setting without making it feel forced or stilted. It’s funny and emotional and well-rounded.

Romance fans or romance skeptics – I urge you to give this one a shot!

Content warning: cancer, death of a parent.