Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!

March 24, 2017 / 0 Comments / Mini-Reviews, Recently in Romance, Review

recently-in-romance-book-reviews-mostly-ya-lit-bannerSince becoming a romance reader a few years ago, I’ve struggled to figure out where romance reviews belong on my site. I don’t usually write full reviews of romance books, and I’m not sure if all of you like the X-rated books! Recently in Romance is my mini-review feature where I bundle my recent reads and buys for those of you who are fans.

Recently Read:

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Goodbye Paradise

Author: Sarina Bowen
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest
Also by this author: , The Fifteenth Minute, The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, Blonde Date, The Understatement of the Year, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Keepsake (True North, #3), Him, Us, Untitled, Hard Hitter, Good Boy, Keepsake (True North, #3), Stay (WAGs, #2), Pipe Dreams, Temporary, Man Hands (Man Hands, #1), Man Card, Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4), Speakeasy, The Accidentals, Overnight Sensation, Top Secret, Superfan (Brooklyn, #3)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Source: Author's publicist (thank you!)
Format: eARC
My rating:
Buy It:

 Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.
In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world. 
But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves. 
It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.
Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires. 
Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels? 
Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord's name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. Previously published as: In Front of God & Everyone.

4 stars. As a lot of you know, I am a huge, ginormous Sarina Bowen fan. I love all of her books, but her male/male romance writing is where she really shines.

This romance features Caleb and Joshua, two best friends who have always loved each other in the terrifying cult of Paradise. Obviously, their love is forbidden in a cult that emphasizes abstinence of all unholy things (coffee, books, chocolate – I would DIE). But when circumstances become dire, they need to find a way to escape – and do it together.

I really enjoyed most of Goodbye Paradise. I loved how strong Caleb was, and how vulnerable Josh was – and I ached for them and their secret love. Even after they escape Paradise, it’s obvious to both of them that not everyone accepts homosexuals – especially in the rural areas that they end up in. That said, like many of Sarina’s romances, this book is about so much more than just the love story. It’s about survival when your whole life, you’ve been completely cut off from society. And it’s about moving forward after you’ve been allowed to even dream of doing so before. And it’s about family and finding a place to belong.

The one part I didn’t love about this book was that the early scenes felt very rushed. I wanted to know a bit more about Paradise and what the boys had endured. It sucked, but I wanted my heart completely ripped out before Sarina would mend it – and I didn’t feel that way at the beginning.

That said, I raced through this M/M and appreciated that it didn’t just feature Caleb and Josh, but secondary characters with their own needs and wishes. That’s the thing Sarina does best: build an incredible supporting cast that really makes the story feel rounded. A strong read.

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Act Like It

Author: Lucy Parker
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Amazon
Also by this author: Act Like It, The Austen Playbook
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: November 30th 2015
Format: eBook
Buy It: | Audible

A sharp-witted heroine and an infuriating-but-swoon-worthy leading man bring down the house in this utterly charming contemporary romance debut from Lucy ParkerThis just in: romance takes center stage as West End theatre's Richard Troy steps out with none other than castmate Elaine GrahamRichard Troy used to be the hottest actor in London, but the only thing firing up lately is his temper. We all love to love a bad boy, but Richard's antics have made him Enemy Number One, breaking the hearts of fans across the city.Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made him into a new man?Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. From fits of jealousy to longing looks and heated whispers, onlookers are stunned by this blooming romance.Could the rumors be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all?75,000 words

I really enjoyed this clean romance about two West End actors in a fauxmance! Lainie Graham is a British actress whose star is rising. Richard Troy is an established, Byronic talent in the same play, but with a terrible public reputation – on and offstage. Troy’s attitude is affecting ticket sales, so the theatre’s PR manager and Richard’s agent hatch a plan to ask Lainie – who is known as sweet and philanthropic, and who is known to have been cheated on by another player in their troupe – to pretend to be with Richard. They both balk at the plan – Richard is a giant grump and Lainie hates him – but are forced to do it anyway.

What follows is a very loose Pride and Prejudice-like romance. Richard isn’t afraid to be himself, and Lainie gives back as good as she gets. The banter is so fun, and I appreciated how eloquent the characters and the narrative were. I wish I’d known, however, that it was a clean romance because MAN, it left me wanting a really good explicit sex scene. That said, I still very much enjoyed these two rounded characters and their relationship development. While the ending seemed a bit convenient, I didn’t care too much because these two were so adorable and sweet together. Looking forward to more from Lucy Parker!

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Pretty Face

Author: Lucy Parker
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Amazon
Also by this author: Act Like It, The Austen Playbook
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: February 1st 2017
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC from publisher (thank you!)
My rating:
Buy It: | Audible

Highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Act Like It Lucy Parker returns readers to the London stage with laugh-out-loud wit and plenty of drama 
The play's the fling 
It's not actress Lily Lamprey's fault that she's all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that's not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn't so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy. 
Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He'd be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily's suddenly rising career, it's threatening Luc's professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they're not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers… 
This book is approximately 96,000 words 
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you're looking for with an HEA/HFN. It's a promise!

Pretty Face is the story of 26 year old Lily Lamprey, who is about to move from playing a soap opera floozy to a serious West End dramatic role. No one believes Lily can do it, least of all director Luc Savage, but after an audition where barbs are exchanged and sparks fly, Lily gets the role. And here’s where the real story starts.

Lily is trying to break out of her typecasting as a Marilyn Monroe type, while forty-something Luc doesn’t believe in mixing work with play – especially after his last leading lady eloped with another man. With increasing media pressure, a theatre to rebuild, and a complex cast, Act Like It pulls all the things you love about theatre into a winning, rounded story.

And the romance doesn’t hurt either. This is the definition of a hate-to-love slow burn. Much like it’s predecessor, Lily and Luc are on a collision course to love, with undeniable attraction and hilarious banter. I really liked how naturally their romance flowed and ebbed. It’s understandable and full of feeling.

I was also enamoured of Lily’s love of books, and her family background, and how Luc’s funny, loving family stood in contrast to that. I really appreciated how much this book broke down the stereotypes of sexism and looks-before-brains in the theatre industry. And I liked the friendships between many of the female characters.

What stopped me from loving this book was just how long it took to get into the heart of the story. It’s definitely a longer romance, one that really takes its time establishing characters. This is not a bad thing, but the first third of the book did drag a bit. Once the story got going though, it really moved. Well-thought out and wonderfully warm, it’s a romance for anyone who loves theatre. And unlike Act Like It, it does include explicit sex scenes! Yay! 

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Disarm: the Complete Novel

Author: June Gray
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: February 4th 2014
Source: Borrowed from library
Format: Paperback
My rating:
Buy It: | | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible

June Gray's bestselling erotic serial is now available in print for the first timeas one complete novel.
When the secrets of the past begin to surface, the truth can be disarming…Twenty-six-year-old Elsie Sherman has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Henry Logan, since she was twelve years old. Unfortunately, Henry—now an Air Force officer—has only ever treated her like a younger sister, stepping into her brother’s shoes after he was killed in action.
That is, until the night when one dance ignites a sensual fire between the two, leaving Elsie aroused and confused. Is she allowed to lust after her surrogate big brother, who also happens to be her roommate? As the passion between them crosses the line into a territory that teases with the forbidden, Elsie decides to give herself to the man she has always desired. But Elsie is not prepared for where the relationship will take her.
Henry has been harboring two secrets. One can bring them closer together. The other will tear them apart. Now, with each startling new revelation, Elsie realizes that only she can decide if the past can ever be forgiven—and if a future with Henry is worth fighting for.
Includes a never-before-published bonus short story.

I picked up Disarm because my romance friends Vee from Florals and Dragons and Patty from Bookish Wanderlove raved about it. Even though I’m not really a bad boy kind of girl, a book this highly recced deserves a look.

Elsie has loved Henry, her brother’s best friend, for most of her life, but he’s made it clear that she’s just a little sister. That is, until one sexy night out, when she finds out that Henry also feels something for her. What complicates things is that Elsie’s brother recently died in Afghanistan, and Henry’s about to be deployed there. Unsure of whether they can make it through a separation, but unable to stop their feelings, Elsie and Henry embark on a relationship that is equal parts romantic and devastating.

I alternated between complete frustration at the angst in Disarm and complete swooniness for the romance. It’s a total roller coaster of emotions – from the tension of unrequited love to the release of long-held feelings. From military separation to the euphoria of coming home. From the brokenness that PTSD and identity crisis brings, to the darkness of sacrifice and loneliness.

I found the writing occasionally too easy – too convenient. I can’t explain that better – it was just really simple, really direct, telling you exactly what it is. Normally, I hate that – I like subtlety in my writing. And yet, I didn’t hate this. I fell into Elsie and Henry’s story like they do – with my heart on my sleeve. I believed in them.

I think that’s what saved me from throwing this book out the window half the time. The angst was killing me and it’s the type of angst that people equate with new adult. But the characters worked for me – as did their love. I believed, as they did, that this was a love that was built to withstand the trials.

Disarm is split into six sections, as it was originally published online in installments. Most of them are narrated by Elsie, who is strong and sassy and sexy. She’s a girl not afraid of taking what she wants – when she knows what she wants. Sometimes, she really didn’t because she was so afraid of being left again by Henry.

There’s one section where we finally get to hear from Henry, and it really changes things. It puts the PTSD and their long friendship and relationship into perspective, and I applaud the author for pulling that out.

That said…the way Henry treats her…I don’t know if I would have taken him back. He’s truly a mess, and she’s practically a saint for dealing with it. And yet,I get why it worked. And I’m frustrated by it because I almost don’t think he deserves her…and yet they both deserve to be happy.

Yeah, I’m totally confused, too.

I don’t know what to think about Disarm. This is an erotic romance that kept me out of my comfort zone because it’s so angsty and turbulent. It’s a totally unputdownable book, but don’t read if you’re expecting a cute or sweet romance. Disarm is something more, something darker. I’d recommend it for romance readers who aren’t afraid to go on a journey.

Recently Added to My Overflowing Romance To Be Read List:

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Checkmate: This is War (The Checkmate Duet #1)

Author: Kennedy Fox
Also by this author: This Is War, This is Love (Checkmate Series #2), This is Reckless (The Checkmate Duet, #3), Checkmate: This is Effortless (Drew & Courtney, #2) (Checkmate Duet, #4)
Publication date: October 3, 2016
Format: eBook

Coming from a new duo of bestselling authors, The Checkmate Duet, an enemies to lovers romance!
Travis King is the worst kind of a**hole.He taunts me for being a good girl and mocks my high standards.He's cruel, crass, and has enough confidence to last two lifetimes.And I hate him.
It wouldn't matter so much if he were avoidable.But considering he's my older brother's best friend and roommate, I see him more than I'd ever want to.His sculpted abs and gorgeous eyes are wasted on such an arrogant man, which makes me hate him even more.
Even though I've had a crush on him since I was ten, the feelings weren't mutual and he's made that very clear.He's always loved getting under my skin and one night against my better judgment, I let him in my bed.I've succumbed to his manw**re ways, but that doesn't change a thing.
Because the King is about to get played at his own game--and lose.Checkmate.
**Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.**

I just started this romance because everyone in my Racy Readers book club (follow us on Instagram; we’re fun!) is obsessed with this series. I had a total FOMO moment last night and not only purchased it, but started reading immediately. And let me tell you, this guy Travis is a TOTAL douche. Kennedy Fox is going to have to work REALLY hard to get me on board with this.

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Legally Charming

Author: Lauren Smith
Also by this author: Legally Charming (Ever After #1)
Publisher: Lauren Smith
Publication date: March 13th 2017

THE RIGHT DRESS CAN CATCH THE EYE OF PRINCE CHARMING…Felicity Hart has one goal: Completing her masters in art. Falling in love isn’t part of the plan. She reluctantly agrees to attend a Halloween party with her best friend. After sneaking away from the party and falling asleep in an unoccupied room, she wakes to the sexiest pair of eyes she’s ever seen. Eyes that belong to the one man who could turn her well organized world upside down. When he flashes that wicked, panty-melting smile at her the vow to not fall in love seems impossible…EVERY PRINCE IS LOOKING FOR HIS SLEEPING BEAUTY TO KISS…Jared Redmond used to be the ultimate bad boy. But now his legal career is taking off and the partners of his firm are trusting him with high-dollar real estate transactions. Jared’s king-size bed is empty. But when he arrives home on Halloween to find a princess sleeping in his bed – his all work and no play attitude goes out the window. There’s nothing he wants more than to explore the hidden desires of this mysterious beauty and show her just how much of a bad boy he really is by fulfilling her every fantasy. WHEN MIDNIGHT STRIKES AND COACHES TURN TO PUMPKINS…Underneath the glitter of this fairy tale romance, Felicity and Jared might have found true love. But the mounting pressure of their real lives takes hold again and Jared and Felicity are pulled further and further apart. Can they find their fairy tale ending or will they be left with the dying embers of what could have been?

My dear friend and fellow blogger Estelle asked if I would be interested in reading this for review as she works with Lauren. I love happily ever afters and I trust Estelle, so this romance about a lawyer and an art student went on my list.

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Pipe Dreams

Author: Sarina Bowen
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest
Also by this author: , The Fifteenth Minute, The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, Blonde Date, The Understatement of the Year, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Keepsake (True North, #3), Him, Us, Untitled, Hard Hitter, Good Boy, Keepsake (True North, #3), Stay (WAGs, #2), Pipe Dreams, Temporary, Man Hands (Man Hands, #1), Man Card, Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4), Speakeasy, The Accidentals, Overnight Sensation, Top Secret, Superfan (Brooklyn, #3)
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: May 2nd 2017

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers' office during the play-offs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.
Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.
Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.
One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Oh, come on. Third book in Sarina Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers hockey romance series? YES PLEASE.

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Arrest

Author: June Gray
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: June 3rd 2014

Life begins at happily ever after… For Elsie and Henry, getting married and buying a house is only the beginning of their passionate new adventure. Elsie is flourishing in her job while Henry embarks on a new career as a police officer. Everything, it seems, has finally fallen into place. Just when it’s all smooth sailing, they face life-altering changes that make Elsie question her ability to adapt. With Henry’s job putting him in constant danger, she watches helplessly while he slips back into his old habits. Elsie must find a way—through any means necessary—to prevent the past from repeating. With the sand constantly shifting underfoot, Elsie and Henry have to figure out how to strengthen their bond—before they end up losing what matters most…

Definitely have to get the second one in this series – even with all the conflicted feelings, I gotta know how Elsie and Henry’s story ends!

Recently in Romance #6 | New Sarina Bowen, Lucy Parker, and More!Dating You / Hating You

Author: Christina Lauren
Also by this author: The Unhoneymooners
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: June 6th 2017

Everyone knows that all’s fair in love and war. But these two will learn that sabotage is a dish best served naked.
The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.
Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.
But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?
Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending, or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, hilarious story of romance in the modern world.

This will be my first Christina Lauren after hearing raves from my romance go-tos Ginger @ GReads! and Kelly @ Belle of the Literati. The lovely Andrea from Simon and Schuster Canada sent this over to our Racy Readers book club because she’s awesome. It’s a Hollywood romance about two thirtysomethings vying for the same role in an office. So, yeah, TOTALLY my thing (see: The Hating Game).

Are you into the romance genre? What have you read recently? Who are your favorite authors? And don’t forget to check out @racyreaders for more romance fun! 

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