All posts by skyebjenner

The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée by Annika Martin

Overview

Title: The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée
Author: Annika Martin
Series: Billionaires of Manhattan #4
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I’m always a fan of that whole fake relationship trope. The fact that this is combined with the grump and sunshine trope… it left me feeling all of the good feelings. And then there’s the fact that a pretty big chunk of this takes place on a massive, ginormous yacht in tropical holiday destinations. Fantastic tropes, great couple, and perfect backdrop. All of it is very, very yummy.

I’m not going to lie; Tabitha would probably drive me a little batty at first with her sunshiny attitude. And her obsession with soap operas just defies my imagination. But there’s something about her that quickly makes you fall in love. Soap opera obsession aside, she is all that is good and sweet throughout this story. And her ability to constantly find the joy in life makes her the perfect woman to deal with Rex’s attitudinal issues.

Everything about this novel made me smile. It’s such a simple, sweet and gorgeous tale. A great and easy romance read that will leave you feeling happy and calm. There’s just enough conflict to make this difficult to put down, but not so much that it requires too many brain cells (just how I like romances some days). There’s also a great little surprise that fully takes its pages out of a soap opera. I literally chuckled out loud when I read that one. Alright, like a soapie you totally saw it coming. But that didn’t detract from how good it all was.

The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée was a great romance, and I can’t wait to read more about the other women in Tabitha’s life as they fall in love with some incredibly hunky billionaires. I also love that Tabitha might have a weird obsession with soap operas, but she also has this amazing drive to create her own footprint in life. I can’t wait to see how her friends measure up.

<- Breaking the Billionaire’s RulesReturn Billionaire to Sender ->

Image source: Amazon

Stud Muffin by Jiffy Kate

Overview

Title: Stud Muffin
Author: Jiffy Kate, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Fighting for Love #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

They say, “hell hate no fury like a woman scorned”. And oh boy, do I get that. We are old and we are powerful. And in Tempest’s situation, damn, I feel like she was actually almost calm. I totally get her anger at Asher and why she goes a little off her rocker. I think I probably would, too in her situation. The fact that it starts off the story with a good giggle (driving a truck into a damn is wonderful), just makes it all that much more amazing.

I’m loving stories with fighters as a lead, I am very involved in my own MMA/BJJ gym, so it’s this great feeling of coming home when I read about it. Knowing a number of people who actually want to go pro in the UFC, I completely understand the complete world-view alteration that comes along with a serious injury. God, I was put for a few months with a pregnancy and found that insane, knowing that I’ll never get back to the point of skill? Definitely a huge adjustment. But makes for a very yummy male lead.

As I just mentioned, martial arts gyms are a very familiar world to me. As is the whole idea of using kickboxing as a way to control your emotions. Jiffy Kate gets that feeling of calm that descends on you perfectly. Also, the adrenaline and that feeling of physical potency that comes along with being in control of your own body. I love how Cage encourages Tempest to do things that are a bit out of the world of “normal” to control her anger. And that she chooses to stand up for him and herself when people begin to question her decisions.

Poetic justice and the bad guys being regretful of their stupidity always make me happy. As do beautiful romances. This novel has both. Asher does something truly despicable, gets screwed over and you just sit back smiling at the instant karma. Tempest not only finds a new love and hobby, but she figures out how to shine again. I love that Asher spent so long dragging her down, and not only do his actions screw him over, but they also allow Tempest to finally shine.

<- More SmartyPants RomanceBeef Cake ->

Image source: Amazon

Homecoming by Rebecca Norinne

Overview

Title: Homecoming
Author: Rebecca Norinne, Heart Eyes Press
Series: Speakeasy Taproom #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2021

Thoughts

Rosalie and Preston have the cutest falling in love with the boy next door vibe. It’s such a pleasant little trope, one that was enjoyable to go along for the ride with. The fact that it’s not even a neighbour, but the guy who’s renting a granny flat across the driveway? It just became all that much cuter and more convenient. Rosalie and Preston also just work together beautifully in that they start out seeking each other’s companionship, which then blossoms into something more.

Rosalie’s interfering mother is kind of hilarious. She has more game than I could ever hope to have. And such a great joy of life. I honestly could not stop giggling right the way through. I mean, we’ve probably all had that awkward moment of a friend or family trying to “help” in our romantic endeavours. I don’t know how many would go full out with Marvin Gaye and candles under a starlit sky…

Rosalie’s ex on the other hand, is terrifying in his manipulations. Where her mother is doing all of her nonsense out of the good of her heart, her ex is just horrifying. The bullying, controlling attitude is bad enough. But the way he tries to manipulate things to not only destroy Rosalie’s happiness, but extort money from it? That’s bad enough. The potential for financial and legal, ruin just capped it all off.

Like certain people in Rosalie’s past, Preston’s family truly sucks. Except for his sister. Like, I believable levels of not okay behaviour going on there. Yet, for someone so strong and happy to encourage Rosalie to take back her own life, he puts up with a lot of nonsense. Yet, eventually, he figures out how to stick up for himself. Something I greatly appreciated and loved. Enough to make me look, forward to reading more Rebecca Norinne books.

<- HeartwoodSideways ->

Image source: Goodreads

Heartwood by J.H. Croix

Overview

Title: Heartwood
Author: J.H. Croix, Heart Eyes Press
Series: Speakeasy Taproom #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2021

Thoughts

Belle and Ty are a fun couple, and I found this to be a wonderful, easy contemporary romance. Plus, Phoebe, Audrey, Zara and so many others were constantly reappearing in this story. Heartwood was great and introduced me to a wonderful new author who has now been added to my shelves.

I loved that throughout this story, Croix constantly highlights that we all have our crap. That everyone is bringing some complexities and difficulties to the table. And that fact doesn’t make us unlovable. Although on the surface Belle’s issues are pretty full on, it’s actually Ty’s which almost torpedo their whole relationship. Again, everyone has their own nonsense and it’s sometimes just a little bit difficult moving through it.

I think this is my first book that features someone with bipolar disorder. I did absolutely love that fact. However, it was a very brief and broad mention. Yes, it’s Belle’s biggest challenge throughout the book. But it was more of a challenge in the fact that it made her rethink her life and thought she was letting down her loved ones. The people I’ve known living with bipolar (and there’s been many) take years to figure out their new baseline, and years to figure out their medications. On one hand, I loved that Belle’s story was so happy, but on the other, I think it oversimplified things a little.

All in all, Heartwood was a fantastic romance with a great happily ever after (as they all do). I love that mostly it’s about two people figuring out how to accept themselves and that they are worthy of love. It’s sweet and an easy read, with some really great issues at its heart. I’m definitely looking forward to reading some more J.H. Croix in the future.

<- TouchstoneHomecoming ->

Image source: Amazon

Neanderthal Seeks Duchess by Laney Hatcher

Overview

Title: Neanderthal Seeks Duchess
Author: Laney Hatcher, SmartyPants Romance
Series: London Ladies Embroidery #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Historical romance, Regency romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2022

Thoughts

Since this is a historical romance remaining of Neanderthal Seeks Human, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect out of this story. But, wow, this was brilliant. And very cleverly done. I loved how the key aspects of Regency Romances (that I love) were captured and used to retell an amazing tale that I already loved.

Even though this is a retelling, Neanderthal Seeks Duchess is a great story that stands all on its own. Although many key moments from Neanderthal Seeks Human were used, the way that Hatcher was able to spin things in a myriad of unexpected ways. The Meet Cure was adorable, the hints of the future stories, and Quinton’s ability to woo Jane were all fantastic.

I’m a total sucker for a good regency romance (second fastest growing shelf in my collection at the moment). That Hatcher is able to combine this love with my other pretty encompassing love for Penny Reid worked really well for me. I’m glad that Well Acquainted is already out (I just have to save the money). I’m so excited to see how Elizabeth and Nicholas’ relationship is modified for the world of regency romance.

Like everything in the Smartypants Romance world, I loved this story, the writing was brilliant, the characters sassy and delightful, and the plot line had enough going on that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Now I just have to exercise all kinds of self-control to not run straight out and buy the next book in the series.

<- More SmartyPants RomanceWell Acquainted ->

Image source: Booktopia

Battle for the Blood by Lucienne Diver

Overview

Title: Battle for the Blood
Author: Lucienne Diver
Series: The Latter-Day Olympians #4
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Mythology, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2014

Thoughts

I’ve definitely left a little bit too long between reading the Third and fourth (this) books in this series. I mean, I eventually reminded myself of where I was in the series and what had happened. But it probably took half the book. I should probably make sure I don’t let quite as much time pass before I read the final part of this very fun series.

Tori has spent the first portion of this series in a pretty complex love triangle. And although Battle for the Blood does pretty much resolve this, there’s still a lot of lingering emotions. I’m not always a fan of the messiness of some love triangles. But I have enjoyed this one thus far. Plus, Tori’s reason for choosing who she finally does and that farewell… it was very well done and doesn’t make anybody out to be the bad guy.

Tori’s pretty insane transformation is a pretty big driver throughout this story as a secondary plot and mystery. I’m hoping that a few of the potential challenges and secrets are concluded in the next novel. Particularly the wings. I mean, how in the he’ll are you supposed to live with a pair of giant damn bat wings flapping out of your back?

Battle for the Blood was a great adventure. There was love and lust, lots of Greek mythology and a whole apocalypse waiting at our doors. I was unable to put it down from the moment I picked it up, because I just needed to know what was going to happen next!!! And now, deep breath, I need to dive right back in and find out what insanity is going to occur next in the world of Tori.

<- Rise of the BloodBlood Hunt ->

Image source: Kobo

Driftwood by MaryJanice Davidson

Overview

Title: Driftwood
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Series: Wyndham Werewolf #5.5
In: Over the Moon (Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Virginia Kantra & Sunny)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal romanceVampires, Werewolves
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novella
Year: 2007

Thoughts

I always forget how damn funny and pithy Davidson’s writing is. She’s sassy and delightful, with enough lust and excitement to count as a great paranormal romance. Mostly though, I just really, really love the sass with which she writes female characters. Diving into this novella made me remember why I rushed to buy Undead and Unwed in the first place (and then haven’t quite gotten around to reading it yet…)

I must admit, Burke is a bit of an oddbod from the very beginning of this story. I mean, he’s eating class and then chewing on tires… I thought he’d get a little more normal as the storyline went on. But he really, really didn’t. And that total oddness totally grew on me. He was pretty entertaining, and totally down with vengeful murder. Which, again, I loved.

As somewhat of a klutz myself, I can totally imagine somehow falling into a hole. And then getting stuck, there. Sierra’s refusal to get out and her biting retorts to Burke when he tries to help just cemented my love for her. I mean, she falls into a hole and then out sasses the man who tries to rescue her? How could you not love this?

Reading this novella just reminded me how much I want to dive into The Undead / Queen Betsy series. I have loved all of the novellas that I’ve been able to read, but now I want a full-length version…

<- Between the Mountaina nd the MoonMona Lisa Three ->

Image source: Penguin Random House

The Prison Doctor: Women Inside by Dr. Amanda Brown

Overview

Title: The Prison Doctor: Women Inside
Author: Dr. Amanda Brown
Series: The Prison Doctor #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs, True crime
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

This was one of those memoirs that I did have to stop and start a little. Mostly because the topic was pretty emotionally dense. But, on the flipside, I also couldn’t wait to pick this up all the time because Brown does such an amazing job of writing about this. She deals with some incredibly complex and intense issues in a frank and open matter. And she does so with an amazing amount of respect.

I must admit, some of the stories told in this book made me seriously think about my own preconceptions and biases. I’m pretty open minded, but there were a few moments that made me sit back and rethink my approach to criminality and jail. Particularly when Brown very simply states the facts and highlights the damn injustices and inequalities in the world. There was a lot of this novel that made me pause and think.

Each chapter of this story is filled with experiences and anecdotes. And unlike many of the other medical memoirs that I’ve read, there isn’t always a satisfactory conclusion to the story. After all, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of women that Brown sees once. And never again. It’s somehow a lot more realistic and got my right in the feels.

I love that there is a key theme throughout all of the stories that Brown picks to create this memoir. I didn’t actually see it until I got to the final chapter, and Brown completely laid it bare. But once she explains that underlying theme, there is a huge penny drop moment. It brings all of the individual tales together and made me stop and think about the same issues that we face down here in Australia.

<- The Prison DoctorThe Prison Doctor: Foreign Bodies ->

Image source: Amazon

Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen

Overview

Title: Speakeasy
Author: Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2018

Thoughts

This was always going to be a great romance and a wonderful story.  Because Sarina Bowen. What I especially loved about it though was that it showed how the Speakeasy came to be. Which then has its own wonderful spin-off series. Plus, it starts to tie in a bit tighter lot of threads that were kind of flapping I. The wind. Namely, the Rossi family and the Shipleys. Definitely a book that I loved reading and just drifted off into a happy world with for a while.

Alec’s anger at the Shirley’s, and Griffin in particular, is palpable all the way through the series up to this point. But particularly in Bountiful. I like that his romance with May has to make him pause and think things through a little bit better. Not just for her, but his own business sense. Plus, it seems that he also finally starts to find a way to have a relationship with Zara’s husband too. Both of which were very much needed moments in the overarching world, but Alec’s personal growth too.

May and Alec make a fantastic couple. I could honestly wax on about both of them individually enough to write a whole review, but as a couple. They will just melt your heart. I love that they are simply supportive of one another and there for one another. The idea that they begin with no expectations of each other, and it develops beyond friendship into something more is beautiful. And honestly just made me get all the happy feelings more and more for this fantastic couple.

For all of the things I love about this contemporary romance, it’s how Alec allows May to grow that I love the most. She has different issues and hang-ups from early on in the series. And you can understand why her family tries to Molly coddle and protect her. But it’s Alec who acknowledges that she can literally deal with anything. Her past issues with mental health make her strong, not weak. He reminds her family of that, and that to have a healthy relationship with this phenomenal woman, they need to acknowledge that strength. The kind of partner (whether man or woman) that I think we all kind of want. At least, it’s what I love in my partner…

<- BountifulFireworks ->

Image source: Goodreads

Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Overview

Title: Bountiful
Author: Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #4, Brooklyn Bruisers #5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017

Thoughts

As soon as I met Zara in Bittersweet, I knew that she was a character that I was going to love. The fact that I’ve also been reading the Brooklyn Bruisers series and that this book dovetails nicely into that… I have been incredibly keen to read this story. Zara was just as tough and prickly as I had hoped, her romantic counterpart a soft squishy mess of a man.

One of my favourite things about this story was the fact that although Zara becomes a lot her, she doesn’t suddenly become all soft and squishy. She doesn’t lose her sense of self. Alright, she does soften out some of her edges (as we all should), but she’s still pretty prickly and tough. I’m a new mother, and although I’ve mellowed in many ways, I’m still the tough, pain in the arse I was before getting pregnant.

I’ve read a few romances with the secret child suddenly found trope (I’m sure there’s a shorter way to say this, but anyway). But this is the first one that the whole secret child aspect wasn’t actually a decision. Rather, Zara does everything she can to find Dave. It’s just accident and happenstance that makes for the calamities that lead to Dave missing out on the beginnings of his child’s life. In fact, I loved how there was no real bad feelings throughout any of their relationship. Rather the hurdles to overcome were about trust and actually finding one another again.

Bountiful is ridiculously sweet and cute. Although, to distract a little from the cuteness is all of the steamy set. I mean, wow, does Bowen know how to write a scene that will make a girl’s toes curl. Zara and Dave’s chemistry just roars off the page and left me smiling very, very happily. Yet again, I can’t wait to dive into the next books in these two-overlapping series.

<- KeepsakeSpeakeasy ->

Image source: Amazon