So, from the title you guessed it – I read nothing but romance novels for a week and if I wasn’t a hopeless romantic before then I definitely am now. For me romance is a genre that just gives me so much comfort and feels as easy as breathing and provides some much needed escapism. I also really like that while romance novels can provide this escape, they also approach real life issues and portray real, flawed people experiencing these things and also finding love at the same time.
I decided to read as many of the romance novels I’ve been wanting to read as of late, mostly consisting of contemporary romances. Some of these had been on my TBR for ages and languishing on my kindle and others were ARCS I was fortunate enough to receive for review purposes. I’ve included ‘mini reviews’ of each book so you guys can get an idea of what I thought without you guys having to read an entire essay. I hope you guys enjoy this post and find some recommendations for some good old fashioned romance or you might even find a favourite on here!
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
What I thought:
this book is everything I needed and more – grumpy guy x sunshine girl who are co-workers locked in a stubborn battle of wills but also fighting a not so subtle attraction to each other? plus they work in a publishing house? dude. DUDE. This was funny, sweet and sexy all rolled into one and I loved everything about it from start to finish.
The banter between Josh and Lucy is A+, their moments of tension as well as the moments with depth and emotion are wonderful, especially when it comes to Josh’s family life. That scene at breakfast at the end killed me!!! Lucy defended her man and I was 1000% here for it.
My cheeks physically ache from smiling right now because I was pretty much smiling the entire time whilst reading. But seriously, if you haven’t already – go read this book and if you love it, please come gush about it with me!!
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife
What I thought:
|From the premise alone I knew I would like this book but seriously I loved this !!! second chance romance might be my new favourite thing because there’s something so interesting and fun about this whole dynamic: a couple falling back in love and fighting for their relationship. I really rooted for Gavin and Thea and even though I knew where it was going, all the highs and lows still gripped me and totally made me root for them as a couple. There’s the perfect balance of cute moments to more heated ones and I was so here for all of it.|
I loved the whole concept of the ‘bromance book club’ – a whole load of guys who read romance novels in order to improve their own relationships and open up to their significant others. I’m always a sucker for strong friendships in fiction too and I really liked the dynamic between Gavin and the other guys – super excited that this is a series because this was so funny and just all around great so I’m glad there’s more to read!
Overall, if like me you’re into romance and specifically second chance romance + unique plots then this might be the book for you!
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?
• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.
But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
What I thought:
|I heard so much about this book for the longest time and I can see why everyone loves it so much! This book was amazing – from the disability rep, to the romance to the dialogue to the banter, I can’t fault it. I loved how absolutely smitten Red was with Chloe and vice versa – I just love reading books where the protagonists are just so into each other and it’s so wholesome but also hot af. Their relationship built so naturally and Red is so earnest I can’t 😭|
I really enjoyed Chloe’s perspective too and reading first hand how she navigates fibromyalgia and her quest to start living the way she wants to again and put herself out there. I loved that she grew more confident and loved herself more and saw herself more clearly. I also really liked the conversations around mental health and past traumas in relationships, I think this is such a great thread + Talia Hibbert delivers on all fronts wonderfully.
I can’t wait to read the other books in this series asap!!
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.
Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.
Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.
What I thought:
I was so excited to read this book and while I did enjoy it overall, there was just something missing for me. I think the cover blew me away more than the actual couple themselves, although I did like Jasmine and Ashton’s development it all just fell a little flat for me after a bit. I would have liked more moments between them where it was more clear why they were so drawn to each other – other than their obvious physical attraction. Plus I found the ‘angst’ in the novel a bit contrived, especially the third act breakup.
Jas and Ash’s chemistry falling a bit short for me aside, I really liked the conversations within the novel about latinx representation in the media and the importance of the cast consisting of latinx actors and creatives headlining such a big show. I also thought the family dynamics were heartwarming and relatable, coming from a big family myself where I’m also super close to my cousins.
All in all, a mixed read but still worth it.
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.
Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.
If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.
But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…
What I thought:
|I wanted to love this book but I just wasn’t vibing with it and that’s okay – I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who will enjoy this way more than I did. The concept is unique to say the least but I just couldn’t seem to get past the whole ‘brothers ex fiance thing’ plus the whole thread of Max being responsible was tied up so lazily despite it being such a major plot point.|
Negatives aside, I did like the family dynamic in the novel and all the elements of Brazilian culture from the food, language and familial bonds which were displayed so wonderfully in the book. There are also moments which explore the realities of being a woman and notably a woman of colour in the professional workspace, and the expectations and pressure to behave a certain way.
Overall, I think this just wasn’t the book for me but judging by other readers reviews – you may enjoy this more than I did!
Romances to look forward to:
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
When you can read it: May 11th 2021
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
When you can read it: June 1st 2021
Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in the north of Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.
But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.
Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with three hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…
Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly… is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
When you can read it: November 2nd 2021
Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.
Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.
And Sam picks up the phone.
In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.
Until next time,