Hi all, it’s summer, so I’ve been reading a ton of romance! I’ve got a couple of new romances for you to consider – two releasing this month, a couple from fave authors, and one that I read and re-read because it was so darn good. Give them a look!
Is it love, or is she just his good luck charm? New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting brilliantly captures the hilarity and heartache of first love and second chances in her sexy new romantic comedy.
Lilah isn't sure what hurt worse: the day Ethan left her to focus on his hockey career or the day he came back eight years later. He might think they can pick up just where they left off, but she's no longer that same girl and never wants to be again.
Ethan wants his glory days back. And that includes having Lilah by his side. With her, he was magic. They were magic. All he has to do is make her see that.
Just when Lilah might finally be ready to let Ethan in, though, she finds out their reunion might have nothing to do with love and everything to do with improving his game. But Ethan's already lost her once, and even if it costs him his career, he'll do anything to keep from losing her again.
'The perfect combination of sexy, sweet, and hilarious. A feel-good beach read you won't want to miss' K. Bromberg, New York Times bestselling author, on Shacking Up
REVIEW: THE GOOD LUCK CHARM BY HELENA HUNTING
You guys know how much I love my hockey romances, so when The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting (Toronto author, yay!) was pitched to me, I was an immediate yes.
The Good Luck Charm is a second chance contemporary romance starring Lilah Smith, a nurse who’s looking to become a nurse practitioner, and Ethan Kase, an NHL hockey player who comes home to Minnesota after a bad few years in the league. Lilah and Ethan dated in high school and had a really loving relationship, but broke up when Ethan was drafted into the NHL and moved to L.A. The break-up was really bad for both of them – Lilah was never super close to her family, so Ethan’s family became hers and Ethan was really her best friend. So Lilah was totally abandoned when Ethan left. Meanwhile, we find out that Ethan’s choice to break up with Lilah was influenced by a lot more than just his own ambitions.
When Ethan’s father has a stroke, Ethan shows up back in town and the two of them realize the spark never really went away. They restart their relationship, trying to hold onto the past while recognizing that they are different people than they were in high school. Ethan has been playing poorly in the NHL, and he’s now realizing that he might not have a future in the NHL. Meanwhile, Lilah was married and just recently divorced, and she’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life.
The romance in The Good Luck Charm is very intense and the chemistry between the two leads almost explosive. In some ways, that’s a good thing, because it made the sex scenes very exciting and got me invested in their relationship. But it also made it very frustrating for me as a reader because Ethan and Lilah could never say no to one another.
Lilah, especially, would give in to Ethan’s demands for her time (time that she should have spent studying to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner) so easily that at times I felt like she was a bit of a doormat. Similarly, Ethan was so clingy that it made me really dislike him at times – he was pushy about getting Lilah’s attention and couldn’t understand her needs.
In fact, it’s this pushiness that ends up being the catalyst for the central conflict in the novel. Once Ethan gets back to training, he needs to see Lilah before each game so that he can play better. He’s very superstitious, and he feels that he plays better when Lilah is part of the equation. And it’s this role that Lilah feels uncomfortable with. She questions whether Ethan is actually still in love with her or if he just wants her around because she’s his “good luck charm.” And it’s a legitimate concern.
I liked that this was a different issue than a lot of romances I’ve read. Both Ethan and Lilah are trying to pursue career goals and they’re both hindering and helping each other with their romance. It’s a unique situation. I also liked that Ethan’s family was so present in this relationship – Lilah stayed friends with them throughout her estrangement from Ethan, and even though it’s complicated, I still felt like her attachment to them was believable. I also felt that Ethan’s parents provided an interesting foil to Lilah and Ethan’s relationship.
The Final Word:
I could have used a little more hockey and a lot less “doormat”-ness in The Good Luck Charm. The relationship between Lilah and Ethan is really intense, and I liked the uniqueness of the story, but for me, it fell flat because it felt like the main characters couldn’t say no to each other ever. I like my heroes and heroines just a little bit stronger than that, and I was frustrated by the way the characters acted and reacted. This one was just okay for me.Boy Toy (Man Hands, #3)
Author: Sarina Bowen, Tanya Eby
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), Goodbye Paradise, Pipe Dreams, 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)
Series: Man Hands #3
Also in this series: Man Hands (Man Hands, #1), Man Card
Publisher: Blunderwoman Productions
Publication date: August 14, 2018
Source: Author's publicist (thank you!)
Buy It: Amazon.com | Audible
A brand new romantic comedy from your favorite snort-laughing duo!
The moment Sadie Matthews walks through the daycare center door, I feel my world tilt in her direction. Again. I fell for her when I was fourteen, and I'm still not over her. Problem: she still thinks of me as a teen she used to babysit. But I've learned a few things about pleasing a woman in the last fifteen years. I can't wait to show her how good it could be. I need to move quickly before I lose her again. This is more than a game to me, but I still plan to win.
I've just survived the worst year of my life. As a single mom of twin toddlers, I don't have time for a man. I barely have time to finish a thought. Who knew that Liam McAllister would grow up to be so devastating? He's everything my husband was not: tall, built, and willing to have a tea party with my girls.
I can't possibly get involved with him. He's too young for me. Too handsome. But he's so persuasive...
REVIEW: BOY TOY BY SARINA BOWEN & TANYA EBY
Boy Toy is the third book in the absolutely hilarious Man Hands series by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby. This one features single mom Sadie trying to move on after finding her now ex-husband cheating on her with her twin daughters’ nanny. Yeah, a real winner.
Sadie is now going back to work and as much as she hates to do it, she has to put her girls, Amy and Kate, in daycare. To her surprise, the man in charge of the toddler room is Liam McAllister. Sadie baby-sat for Liam’s younger siblings when she was 19 and he was 14, and she’s pretty surprised (and impressed) by how much he’s grown up. And how studly he is.
For Liam’s part, he’s excited to see his teenage crush in the flesh – and single – again. After dancing around their obvious (and hilarious) sexual attraction, Sadie and Liam agree to a no-strings-attached sexual relationship. The problem? There are definitely feelings on both sides.
Ok, first, there are laughs up the wazoo with this book. I giggled a lot of times at the way Sadie reacted to seeing Liam all grown up – and I do mean, ALL GROWN UP. And it’s pretty funny and silly to see Liam all flustered by his first crush. If you like goofy sex humour, this book is totally for you.
What I liked most about this book was that it dealt realistically with a woman who had just had her heart – and her self-esteem – trounced on. As a new mom, I related so much to Sadie’s feelings that her postpartum body was not enough for a specimen like Liam. But that’s also what I liked so much about this book.
Liam is not just a boy toy. He’s a man with a great heart who totally covets (and has had fantasies about) Sadie – and not in a creepy way. He doesn’t care about her rolls or her C-section scars. What he sees is the whole picture – and that’s just such a lovely and empowering thing to read about.
It also doesn’t hurt that Liam is doing a Ph.D in early childhood development and is not just any old manny. Dude is a toddler whisperer – and let me just say that that is INCREDIBLY appealing to me as a mom.
The Final Word:
For me, Boy Toy was a good addition to Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby’s Man Hands series. I did feel the characters were a little less developed than in the last two books – Sadie felt a bit muted compared to the gutsy Ash and the goofy chef Brynn. But Liam, the love interest, was definitely more interesting and I definitely related more to Sadie’s home life and the pressures she faced. This isn’t my favorite of the series, but it was a fun, hilarious and FAST summer romance for anyone who likes rom-coms – emphasis on the comedy.Making Up
Author: Lucy Parker
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Amazon
Also by this author: Act Like It, Act Like It, Pretty Face, The Austen Playbook
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: May 1, 2018
Source: Purchased from Amazon.com
Buy It: Amazon.com | Audible
Author of Act Like It and Pretty Face Lucy Parker returns readers to the West End, where it’s fireworks onstage and off in a sexy enemies-to-lovers showdown.
Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when the star of The Festival of Masks is nixed and Trix is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, it’s exactly the push she needs. But the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team.
Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser.
To Leo, something about Trix is…different. Lovely. Beautiful, even though the pint-size, pink-haired former bane of his existence still spends most of her waking hours working to annoy him. They’ve barely been able to spend two minutes together for years, and now he can’t get enough of her. On stage. At home. In his bed.
When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them.
It seems hopeless.
This book is approximately 82,000 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!
Carina Press acknowledges the editorial services of Deborah Nemeth
REVIEW: Making Up by Lucy Parker
Making Up is the story of Beatrix Lane, a circus arts performer in the West End, and Leo Magasiva, a top London make-up and special effects artist.
Trix is the best friend of Lily Lamprey of Pretty Face, the previous book in Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series. In that book, we learned that Trix had a really terrible, emotionally abusive relationship with a man who manipulated her and almost lost her Lily and her other family.
Now Trix is trying to move on from that relationship, even though every decision makes her question her own judgment. This becomes a bigger issue when an accident requires Trix to step into the lead role in the Festival of Masks. It’s a role that Trix can do – physically. But mentally she’s not sure she’s prepared.
To make matters worse, her archenemy, the incredibly good-looking but super annoying Leo Magasiva, is joining the production as the head makeup artist. Leo’s work is top-notch, but an unfortunate incident with a diva actor has led to him taking the much-below-his-standard job at the same theatre as Trix.
Leo and Trix have a history that dates back to high school, and they can’t spend two minutes together without insulting each other. But when Leo helps Trix work on an anxiety issue together, the war between them eases a bit, and they start to unravel the web of misunderstanding that caused them to become enemies in the first place. And their intense hatred sparks into something that was always there – chemistry and possibly, love.
Making Up is a familiar tale of pride and prejudice, but it’s not written in the usual way. For one thing, Lucy Parker does not hold back in dealing with the issues that Trix and Leo both have with their families (Trix was in the foster system, Leo was abandoned by his parents), their previous relationships, and each other. It’s an intense, sometimes very geeky story that Parker weaves between two people who are otherwise perfect for each other, but need to get over themselves. The sexy scenes are just as intense as the characters, and the story full of honesty about regaining and reclaiming self.
I enjoyed Making Up a lot, and was right there with the characters as they tried to pretend they didn’t care for each other, to the point where they realized they were. I also enjoyed just how creative they were at both pissing each other off and making each other happy. This is definitely a unique and full tale of hate-to-love. But to be honest, it didn’t hit me quite as hard as Parker’s previous two books in this series. I liked Trix and Leo and I liked what they stood for. But I think maybe it just took them a little too long for me to get onboard with them? I don’t know what it was, but Making Up was enjoyable but not incredibly memorable for me.
I appreciated that we got to see Lily Lamprey and Luc Savage from Pretty Face again (quite a lot!), but overall, Making Up was a good but not amazing read to me.
The Final Word:
Read Making Up if you like geeky romances and love Lucy Parker’s other work. Otherwise, I’d go back to Act Like It or Pretty Face first!Sweet & Wild
Author: Viv Daniels
Also by this author: One and Only [NA New Adult College Contemporary Romance], , Island Escape
Publisher: Word for Word
Publication date: March 19, 2018
Source: eARC from author (thank you!)
Buy It: Amazon.com | Audible
She’s done being sweet…
Six months ago, Hannah Swift’s perfect life fell apart. She learned her prominent businessman father had a secret family, she was diagnosed with a chronic illness, and to top it off, her boyfriend left her… for her own half-sister. She’s ready to put the past behind her, but her wealthy, image-obsessed parents are insisting that she finish college on their terms and keep setting her up on blind dates that feel more like corporate mergers. Hannah’s had enough.
Now it’s time to get wild…
Enter Boone, a bad boy with a pick-up truck, a killer smile, and a sexy dare: one night, no rules. Except what starts out as a fling soon turns serious. Boone is everything Hannah has never allowed herself to want, but he may be exactly what she needs.
Yet behind the gorgeous blue eyes and well-worn jeans, Boone has secrets of his own. When their pasts come crashing down, who will be there to pick up the pieces?
***New Adult Romance Suitable for 18+.***
REVIEW: SWEET & WILD BY VIV DANIELS
I read Sweet & Wild twice before being able to review it – that’s how much I loved it. I mean, it’s Viv Daniels, aka Diana Peterfreund, who is one of my favorite authors, so I knew it was going to hit me in the feels, but this one just really got to me.
Hannah Swift is a legacy at Canton University. A rich debutante, she’s spent her whole life having things handed to her. But last year, it all fell apart. Between a cancer scare, finding out her dad has been cheating on her mom, finding out she has a half-sister from her dad’s mistress, and then, unbelievably, Tess, her half-sister, stealing her boyfriend from her, she’s had a LOT to deal with (for more on Tess and Hannah’s ex-boyfriend Dylan, and the reasons why it makes sense, check out One & Only, the first book in this series). No wonder she decided to take off the first semester of junior year to go jaunt (and kiss) her way through Europe.
The problem, though, is that Hannah is now back and nothing was solved from her break. Sure, she’s fluent in French now and she got some sweet cooking lessons, but Tess and Dylan are still together, her father is still a douchebag, and she’s still expected to graduate from college in a year or so. And she has no idea what to study or where to go from here.
Hannah’s real issue in this book is trying to figure out who she is – and fast. She’s still a second-semester junior at Canton University, her flakey friends are all seniors and about to graduate without her, and she’s tried out at least 6-8 majors with nothing sticking. Her only real passion in life is horror movies – she’s secretly a popular horror movie blogger. And the fact that she can’t talk about it with anyone in her life is kind of hurting her, too.
Enter Boone, the hot handyman from next door who’s working on Hannah’s neighbour’s patio. While Hannah’s spent the summer brooding, she and Boone have also been admiring each other from afar. It’s inevitable that they end up hooking up, and HOLY HECK, their encounters are steamy.
But what starts as a hook-up becomes much more when they learn about each other’s pasts. Hannah, especially, is thrown by just how much Boone – who has never been to college and has wandered the world for many years – can teach her about life and what to do with expectations.
I love, love, LOVED how Sweet & Wild unfolded. This one was such a journey of self-discovery, and I fell right into Boone and Hannah’s troubles, and their desperation to break away from what society expects of them. It is NOT your typical rich girl-slumming-it romance. It’s also not some kind of “surprise, we’re going to end up rich anyway!” story. At every turn, Viv Daniels anticipates what is typical in this genre and turns it on its head. That’s what I loved most about this story.
I know that was a lot of backstory – but with Hannah, you need that backstory to understand where her future goes. And like with Daniels’ other books, this isn’t just a light romance. There’s so much more to Hannah than meets the eye, and there’s so much she needs to go through in order to get to a place where she knows and accepts herself. It’s a romance, so you know it’ll end up with a happy ending, but my gosh. Daniels makes you work for it. You’ll go through all the anguish and pain with the characters, but you will also come out better for it, like they do.
Is it angsty? Yes, but not in a dark or violent way. Hannah’s struggles feel real and authentic to any college senior feeling alarmed by real life coming fast. But her triumphs also feel earned, and you will cheer and smile with her as she makes it through, better and stronger.
The Final Word:
I really…can’t describe Sweet & Wild that well, or why Hannah and Boone’s romance – and Hannah’s troubles – hit me so hard. Pick it up if you want a sexy, steamy story set in college, with a happy ending that feels earned. You won’t regret it.
Are you into the romance genre? What have you read recently? Have you read any of these books? Which are you excited about? Who are your favorite authors – give me recs!
Recently in Romance is Mostly YA Lit’s mini-review feature for all of you who like the X-rated books!