Tag Archives: Chic lit

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Overview
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3) by Tessa Bailey

Title: Tools of Engagement
Author: Tessa Bailey
Series: Hot & Hammered #3
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 30th – 31st March 2021
Pace:Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: A day earlier: ‘Laura claims you let her watch Judge Judy.’

Synopsis

When two enemies team up to flip a house, the sparks between them will either burn the place down or ignite a passion they can’t resist…

Hair, makeup, clothing, décor – everything in Bethany Castle’s world is organized, planned, and styled to perfection. The homes she designs for her family’s real estate business are the most coveted in town. The only thing II not II perfect? Her track record with men. So she’s on a dating hiatus, and now she finally has time to focus on her dream: flip a house, from framework to furnishings, all by herself. Except her older brother runs the company and won’t take her seriously.

When a TV producer gets wing of the Castle sibling rivalry, they’re invited on Flip Off, a competition to see who can do the best renovation. Bethany wants bragging rights, but she needs a crew and the only member of her brothers’ construction team willing to jump ship is Wes Daniels, the new guy in town. However, Wes’s Texas drawl and handsome face got under Bethany’s skin on day one, and the last thing she needs is some cocky young cowboy in her way.

As the race to renovate heats up, Wes and Bethany are forced into close quarters, trading barbs and biting banter as they remodel the ugliest house on the block. It’s a labor of love, hate, and everything in between, and soon sparks are flying. Bethany’s perfectly structured life is one kiss away from going up in smoke, and she knows falling for a guy like Wes would be a II flipping II disaster…

Thoughts

This novel and conclusion to the Hot & Hammered series most certainly bought a tear to my eyes. It was brilliant, cute and sweet. Most definitely the kind of story that I will remember for a long time and read again. There were just so many wonderful moments to this story that were brilliant. It bought tears to my eyes, with hand flapping and everything.

I have a bit of a habit towards perfectionism. Mostly, I’m aware of it, but yeah, sometimes it kind of sucks. The fact that Bethany has this tendency made me love her that much quicker. And it turned this romance into a story that wasn’t just about falling in love, but also about finding yourself and learning to accept the chaos in your life. It’s something that I’m constantly working towards, something that I think many people need to work towards in their own lives.

One of my favourite things about the romances that I read is when you connect strongly with the characters. With Bethany’s proclivity towards perfectionism and not wanting people to see her vulnerability, I connected with Bethany way more than was comfortable. The panic attacks, the difficulties with being close to someone, the inability to show my vulnerabilities… yeah, I felt that. And it made Wes all that much more drool-worthy and admirable, after all, I know how difficult it can be to put up with my little quirks.

Wes is a fantastic leading man. He is steadfast and honourable. That, and the fact that he’s a bull riding cowboy who quit his roaming life to raise his niece? Perfect book boyfriend material there. Which works well, because Laura, the adorable niece? She steals the show multiple times throughout this book.

This is a fantastic conclusion to a wonderful trilogy. Not only is it a great standalone romance, but you get a little bit more of the happily ever after for Georgie and Rosie as well… it just tied everything up beautifully and left me smiling like an absolute goofball. While tears of happiness and joy threatened to overflow.

<- Love Her or Lose HerMore Tessa Bailey ->

Image source: Goodreads

Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

Overview
Dr. Strange Beard : Penny Reid : 9781635763515

Title: Dr. Strange Beard
Author: Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 15th – 25th March 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: SmartyPants Romance
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: I see your point.

Synopsis

Beards, brothers, and bears, oh my!
Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Parton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything – every look, every word, every single unrequited second – and the least thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be…

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but is she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor…

Thoughts

As usual, I love the works of Reid. She is funny, engaging, generally awesome and just all round, a lot of fun. The fact that, yet again, Reid finds characters that are not mainstream and a little in the minority… well, it just draws you further and further into the storyline. In this case, we have a POC lead female, and a male with a seriously awesome memory… one that I’m not exactly jealous of, because I can understand how painful that would probably be for him.

Roscoe is such an absolute sweetheart. He has been throughout all of the Winston Brothers books but getting to read about him as a sweetheart from the very beginning… oh. My heart just melted. Of all of the absolutely delectable brothers, he is most definitely the sweetest. Which is lovely considering that he is also the one that is in love with his childhood best friend… and the way he goes about it? Oh, honestly, once I actually got into this book and had the time to pick it up, I just devoured the whole damn story.

Although this is a contemporary romance series, Darrell Winston is a scary, horrible villain. He is just… so damn evil. And probably because he is also believable… he is also one of those villains that seriously give me the heebie jeebies. So, having a story that much more heavily featured him in the present (for the first four books he’s in jail) was… awesome. And horrible. It just made this story all that much more difficult to put down. Plus, it also is a great story point and methodology to pull Simone into the tale and the world of the Winston’s again.

Simone and Roscoe are a great couple. One that you fall in love with from the very first moment. I mean, all of the Reid couples are ones that you are pulling for from the beginning. But something about these two… it’s just wonderful. I love the stories about those who grew together as friends and become lovers. There is something just… adorable and impossible to forget about such a story line. There is a horrible cliché about falling in love with your best friend. One that is so completely true – and Roscoe and Simone definitely work with this cliché perfectly.

Not only does this story hit all of my happy points for diversity and romance. But it also helps to kind of round out the story with Darrell, who hovers throughout all of the tales. And it sets things up for the next two books – Billy’s story. I’m not exactly jumping to read Beard With Me because I know that it’s probably going to break my heart. But then, the other part of me… just can’t wait.

<- Beard in MindBeard with Me ->

Image source: Bookdepository

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Overview
Love Her Or Lose Her, A Novel by Tessa Bailey | 9780062872852 | Booktopia

Title: Love Her or Lose Her
Author: Tessa Bailey
Series: Hot & Hammered #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 13th – 24th March 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: “In bed or out?” Rosie said, heat staining her cheeks.

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation.

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the prefect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be, anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When Rosie’s girlfriends encourage her to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippie. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to Rosie’s surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As the two complete one ridiculous – yet surprisingly helpful – assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

Thoughts

As with Fix Her Up, I was completely in love with and completely pulled into this story. It was fun, light and seriously cute. Plus, I love that the angle in this romance isn’t so much about finding the love of your life, it’s about keeping them. I’ve been with my husband since we were quite young (not as young as Rosie and Dom), and I know that our relationship is a constant work in progress. So, having a story that highlights what happens after the wedding… it certainly was a fantastic alternate angle to a romance.

I’ve always believed in true love, but I’ve also believed that it doesn’t matter how much you love one another, there is much more to a relationship and marriage than love alone. I love that Bailey kind of takes the same standpoint – that Rosie deserves more than just love and needs to fight for something else in her life. It opens up this beautiful world in which love isn’t necessarily enough, there is other work involved. Believe me, a good relationship isn’t just built around love. It is about so much, much more. And that Rosie is willing to fight for this… man, I just fell for this character from the very first page.

It’s always fun when you feel like you have a lot in common with the lead character – and I certainly felt this way about Rosie. I too have a stoic, communicationally stunted man in my life. And, although she always wants him by her side, she is fiercely independent. And intelligent. And just driven. Plus, I love the level of sass – particularly in the moment when she decides to find the most “woo woo” therapist she possibly can. Not just to save their marriage, but also to try and make Dom really try. I love a woman who will occasionally go out of her way to be difficult. The fact that the therapist managed to throw in some very cool and interesting curveballs… well, it had me smiling and giggling all the way through.

Love Her or Lose Her is a beautiful romance, filled with all of the fun and lust that I enjoyed in Fix Her Up.  But I honestly probably enjoyed it just that little bit more. Simply because it deals with the day-to-day difficulties of being in a relationship. It highlights that even when you’ve had the wedding, found your happily ever after… things still take work. Plus, the inclusion of the love languages… it just reminds us to never take each other for granted and finding our happily ever after is always about work… in the best way possible.

<- Fix Her UpTools of Engagement ->

Image source: Booktopia

The Peak of Love by Langley Gray

Overview
Langley Gray

Title: The Peak of Love
Author: Langley Gray
Series: The Socialites #3
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 10th – 23rd March 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: ARC, eBook, Novel
Publisher: Langley Gray
Year: 2021
5th sentence, 74th page: What happened to taking it easy?

Synopsis

Margot Fairchild is a woman with a plan. She’s ready to take over the family beauty empire JOLIE, until her dad informs her that she needs to prove her ability to follow-through before taking the helm. She must commit to something – anything – for 21 days, the time it takes to form a habit, in order to earn her chance. She has every confidence she can rise to the occasion, until she finds out she must date someone her friends choose for her. The man in question is a complete departure from her usual “type”; the handsome and injured, Luke Devereaux.

Luke Devereaux is a professional hockey player trying to keep out of the headlines due to a potential scandal lurking. His tattoos and bad boy looks overshadow his heart of gold, but he’s a firm believer that things will work out as they should, even with his career in jeopardy.
He retreats to the mountains of Colorado on a management-forced vacation while waiting for news about his multimillion-dollar contract renewal. He only has to keep a low profile until the decision is made. Then he meets Margot Fairchild.

Will Margot manage to take Luke’s laid-back lead?
Or will her need to take control sabotage Luke’s contract, and her ability to follow-through?

Thoughts

This is such a gorgeous and fun story. It made me smile, life and just generally had me seriously enjoying this story. Margot is an absolute pistol of a lead character, and Luke is completely adorable in his laid back, understanding mannerisms. That, and the setting of the entire romance is just… dreamy, cute and seriously beautiful. The perfect place to fall in love.

 I love that this story has a serious How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days feeling. After all, Margot makes a deal with her father to stay in a relationship for 21 days… you can just taste the fall out from that deal from the very beginning. Although, it doesn’t stop you from wanting to sink into it and find out just how that fallout is going to happen! Then, there’s the feeling that Luke also has a fair amount to gain from their blossoming relationship…

I’ve never been skiing, and it’s not something that I’m honestly all that interested in. It just seems so damn… cold! But it also seems ridiculously fun and romantic. The kind of adventure that can most definitely cement a relationship and create a bit of a happily ever after feeling. It certainly works for Margot and Luke anyhow! And it adds an extra, fun layer of spice to the whole story. One that just helps to sink you further and further into the setting, scenery and storyline.

I absolutely adored this story – the lead characters where absolutely adorable. And the secondary characters were just as much fun… there were a few calamities in their relationship along the way, which is exactly what I need in a story about relationships. But not enough to make your heart hurt. Like the other Socialites stories, this was light, fun and intensely enjoyable.

<- The Flyaway BrideUntitled ->

Image source: Langley Gray

Falling Under Love by Langley Gray

Overview
Falling Under Love by Langley Gray

Title: Falling Under Love
Author: Langley Gray
Series: The Socialites #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 8th March 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: ARC, eBook, Novella
Publisher: Langley Gray
Year: 2021
5th sentence, 74th page: She couldn’t imagine he’d go to all the effort of declining each of her calls so quickly.

Synopsis

A billionaire romance – reimagined.

Winnie grew up in fortune and infamy and now wants nothing to do with her family’s dirty money. She’s determined to break away from the Whitman name and is well on her way to funding her new nonprofit, without any help from her family connections.

Winnie has been too focused on her work to make time for love until one rainy night she runs into a stranger while trying to catch a cab. Winnie and the stranger are so taken with one another, they forget to exchange contact information.

When her friends find out that “too busy for love” Winnie is showing interest in someone, they hatch a plan to remedy the missed connection. But will Winnie have any idea what to do when love comes her way? And will the stranger on the street distract her from her goals, or will he turn out to be more than just a pair of pretty eyes?

A story of finding love with best friends by your side to help you through it.

This is the first in a series following four single best friends who are all billionaires in their own right. This standalone book follows one of the ladies: Winnie Whitman, as she fumbles her way into love.

Thoughts

I received a copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

I absolutely adored the ARC I received of The Flyaway Bride, and since I couldn’t get my hands on a copy in Australia, I ended up emailing the author. She is amazing and sent me a copy of the first book in this series. It’s taken me a little while… but I finally managed to get around to reading this! And it was absolutely amazing! I loved Winnie’s story and getting to know her that much better left me smiling like a fool.

I don’t come from money or privilege, so I can’t imagine what it must be like to question every relationship and wonder why people are talking to me / trying to bond with me. It made it a little heartbreaking that Winnie had to constantly contend with such a reality. And that it was a misunderstanding of this exact nature that threw a spanner in the works.

There is a beautiful fate feeling to this whole story. One that makes you believe that Zane and Winnie are just meant to be together. After all, from the very first moment they just keep… tripping over one another. And, even though there is a little bit of a fight on Winnie’s side not to succumb… it’s not much of a fight at all.

This was a beautiful, adorable and wonderful story. One that I just couldn’t put down and forget about. It left me feeling happy and content. Which, for me, is what a good romance is all about. A lovely diversion from reality for a while.

<- More Langley GrayThe Flyaway Bride ->

Image source: Goodreads

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Overview
Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered, #1) by Tessa Bailey

Title: Fix Her Up
Author: Tessa Bailey
Series: Hot & Hammered #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 18th February 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: Zumba.

Synopsis

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and no one has taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase One: A new framework for her business (A website from this decade?)
Phase Two: A gut reno on her wardrobe (FYI, leggings are pants)
Phase Three: Updates to her exterior (Do people still wax?)
Phase Four: Put herself on the market (And stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking out the town clown for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite.

Travis Ford was a major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme – that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job – he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman, and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her.

Thoughts

I’ve been eyeing this story off for a while and been putting off reading it. Which was honestly a bit of a mistake. Because this story was absolutely glorious and fun and wonderful. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. Which would have been fine if I didn’t start a new job the next day and had read until all hours of the morning.

I can’t imagine how painful it would be to be in love with the same man since you are young. And for that man to consistently ignore and dismiss you. After all, there is nothing that I can imagine being worse than being disregarded constantly. Particularly by the man that you love. Yet, somehow, even though that kind of makes Travis a bit of an ignorant dick, he’s still completely loveable.

This is a fantastic beginning to a new series. And a wonderful introduction to a whole new author. I will definitely be trying to get more Tessa Bailey books on my shelves as soon as feasible. There is something that is so brilliant and engaging and fun about her writing. This was also a beautiful romantic plotline that not only drew me in, but had me seriously emotionally invested in all of the characters… probably why I couldn’t put the silly book down!

Fix Her Up is a beautiful, fun and light-hearted romance that left me smiling and grinning all the way through. Georgie is a brilliant lead, and I love that her entire goal in life is to make others happy and make them laugh. It’s not a career that I would want personally… but I love that she has such a beautiful, generous spirit. It made the whole tale just flow all that sweeter. But, she still has a great backbone of steel – after all, the story starts with her throwing off food at Travis and just gets better from there.

This is a great story about growing up together and finding a way to grow into yourself. My favourite thing about Georgie and Travis is that they are able to help each other grow and support each other. They stick up for each other when they really need it and find a way to constantly support one another. It’s something we all need, but don’t necessarily get, in a relationship. And it made my heart melt.

<- More Tessa BaileyLove Her or Lose Her ->

Image source: Goodreads

Beard in Mind by Penny Reid

Overview
Image result for book cover beard in mind

Title: Beard in Mind
Author: Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #4
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 14th – 15th February 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: SmartyPants Romance
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: We’d barely spoken in weeks.

Synopsis

Beards, brothers, and birds! Oh my! 88 All is fair in love and auto maintenance.

Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually. Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a hand-basket.

Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever. She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She wont’ shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words.

Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.

The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity – exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity – and Beau Winston soon discovers being II nice II and II accommodating II might mean losing what matters most.

Thoughts

Ever since meeting Beau in Truth or Beard – after all, he’s Duane’s other half. And considering he is about to lose Duane, I really wanted to see how the poor boy would cope. And you know what? He actually did a lot better than I had anticipated. And I enjoyed this story so much more than I thought I would. Particularly when the lady-love is Shelly, who we got to meet in Neanderthal Seeks Human.

One of my favourite things about Penny Reid’s books is that she takes characters that really aren’t considered mainstream. Characters that have different issues that you don’t normally see in romances and stories. In the case of Beard in Mind, it’s OCD. I know that many people joke about being “a bit OCD”, but there are very few people, if any who actually understand what this is really and truly like. I might not have this disorder myself, but I know what it’s like to have a psychological issue and battle constantly to overcome it.

I love that the saga of the Winston Brothers furthers throughout this story. Beau finds out yet more secrets that tie them to the Iron Wraiths, Duane continues to try and protect his brother. And just, in general, the whole family continues to try and pull together, tighter and tighter than before. It’s the kind of family that you kind of wish you had. Alright, not the insane father, but the siblings, the close knitedness and acceptance of them all? I have that with one sister, imagine if I had even more siblings!!!

I loved, loved, loved this story. I love how Beau finds out about Shelly’s issues and tries to work with her. It reminds us all that support is what is important, that ability to look at someone and just accept them for who and what they are. It’s a difficult thing to do. One that a lot of people struggle with, and I always love seeing this in a story. The fact that Beau chooses to support Shelly and accept that her OCD will always be there – not everyone is so lucky, and I love the feeling of hope that this story provides.

<- Beard ScienceDr. Strange Beard ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Flyaway Bride by Langley Gray

Overview
Image result for book cover the flyaway bride langley gray

Title: The Flyaway Bride
Author: Langley Gray
Series: The Socialites #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 3rd February 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: ARC, eBook, Novel
Publisher: Langley Gray
Year: 2021
5th sentence, 74th page: Even from the base of the hike, the view was picturesque.

Synopsis

JoJo Ellison is a passionate free spirit who may have finally met her match in William Black, Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor. The former supermodel turned designer is viewed by most as a strong force and being in William’s shadow has slowly faded her spark. Her wedding day is looming, but so is a sinking feeling.

The morning of her nuptials, she finds herself in her wedding dress, on a plane to Italy, leaving William at the altar. The Flyaway Bride soon realizes that she can’t outrun the paparazzi and is whisked away on the back of a dusty orange moped by a handsome blast from her past.

Jonny Hall is a talented chef who was an up-and-coming name when he was unceremoniously banned from working in his native London due to a mix up with a notoriously nasty chef. Instead of working in a Michelin-starred restaurant, he finds himself banished to the hills of Tuscany teaching tourists how to make pasta.

Over time, Jonny and JoJo reacquaint themselves with one another while the beautiful Tuscan countryside works its healing magic on them both. JoJo’s passions are rekindled, lighting an unexpected fire in Jonny’s own life.

But will it be enough for JoJo to come back from the mess she’s made for herself? Will Jonny find himself in the crossfire? Find out with this sweet contemporary rom-com.

Thoughts

I received this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I was blown away by how much I loved this ARC. I was expecting a fun journey, and I thought that I would enjoy it. But, from the moment I opened my Kobo, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the storyline. I couldn’t stop reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I just generally was grinning from ear to ear the whole way through.

JoJo is a great lead. She’s impulsive and free-spirited, and she’s been trapped in a relationship that has just swept her along to a place she doesn’t necessarily want to be in. The fact that she had the guts to leave a man at the altar because he isn’t right for her… well, she was just wonderful and fun. And the whole time she is fighting to gain her independence and be the free-spirit that she is.

I love that JoJo is able to find her independence and sense of self after being in such a controlling relationship. Even though this is a romance, and she does end up with the dreamy guy… much of the story is about being oneself. Finding those things in life that trigger your passions and happiness and grasping it with both hands. It’s a reminder that even when you find your happily ever after person (be it man, woman or other), you still get to be yourself. Be your own version of happily ever after that you may not entirely expect.

I’ve talked a lot about JoJo in this review. I do love her partner in this – Jonny. But, really, as always, this story is about the woman for me. The fact that it also features three amazing best friends who love her for who she is just makes everything that much better. But, you know… Jonny does cook. And the way to my heart is most certainly food. And books…

<- Falling Under LoveThe Peak of Love ->

Image source: Booksprout

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Overview
The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2) by Helen Hoang

Title: The Bride Test
Author: Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 5th – 6th January 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Corgi
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: Fortunately, this kind of firm touch was acceptable – he liked proprioception and deep pressure.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, not big, important emotions – like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better – that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly refuses to consider a relationship, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. So when the opportunity arises to go to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down. This could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go quite as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working… but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

As Esme’s time in the United States dwindles, will Khai let his head catch up with his heart? Can he find the strength to let go, and let love in?

Thoughts

This was one of those books that I read cover to cover, completely unwilling to put it down. It was brilliant and clever. Cute and the kind of book that left me with a smile on my face. In fact, I was almost late to work the next day because I couldn’t put this down and stayed up way too late reading.

Khai is a great male lead. You don’t get many neurodiverse leads in books, so having one that featured so strongly was brilliant. The fact that Hoang is neurodiverse herself makes his differences all that much more realistic. Not only did I find it seriously relatable, but I also love how Hoang is able to use her work to bring autism to the forefront in a light and understandable manner. Add to that the fact that Khai is a gorgeous romantic lead, well, it made everything that much more… yummy. And sweet. And I just wanted to hug everyone on the pages!

I’ve read a few contemporary stories which feature immigrants. And even non-fiction books. I haven’t yet read one which features an immigrant. Someone from poverty who is travelling to another country to try and make their lives better. Particularly when that person is effectively a mail order bride. Again, Hoang is able to provide an educated insight into the unique challenges of finding oneself in this situation.

I love the romance that Hoang takes you on in her story writing. But, I think the thing that I love the most and keeps me coming back again and again and again is the way in which she is able to feature marginalised groups. And she doesn’t do this from her imagination, but, rather, she is able to create these amazingly diverse characters from her own experiences, or the experiences of those near her.

This novel melted my heart and left me grinning from ear to ear. It is cute and sweet. And most definitely impossible to forget. Definitely one that I will be rereading at some point in the future.

<- The Kiss QuotientThe Heart Principle ->

Image source: Goodreads

It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Overview
It's Not Summer Without You : Jenny Han : 9780141330556

Title: It’s Not Summer Without You
Author: Jenny Han
Series: Summer #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 23rd – 24th December 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: “It’s my prom.”

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

When something is perfect, you hope it never ends…

Isabel’s lazy, long hot summers at her family friends’ beach house are over.

Conrad – sexy and unavailable – is the only boy she’s ever loved. He’s left for college, taking her heart with him. Jeremiah, his gorgeous brother, is still Isabel’s best friend – but maybe friendship isn’t enough for him any more…

Isbael just wants everything to stay the same, because change means moving on. But if she stops looking back, will she find a future she never knew she wanted?

Thoughts

I’m very on the fence about this novel. Belly is a bit of a selfish pain. I thought that in The Summer I Turned Pretty but felt that she’d grown up a little by the end of it. And then I started this, and it felt like we were right back where we started. It wasn’t so painful that I had to put the book down, and I’ll still read the final book in the trilogy (because I really want to know which brother she ends up with), but it’s the kind of trilogy that I need a good gap between readings.

The most difficult thing I think I found about this story is the idea of a girl being between two brothers. Love triangles often aren’t my favourite trope, I just can’t understand them in my own little reality. But when the love triangle involves two brothers? That just feels wrong and cruel. I mean, I know that it even happens in real life… but still… how can you kiss one brother and then the other?

Aside from the weird love triangle stuff and immaturity, I did seriously feel for Belly throughout this. Losing someone is always tough, and this story really highlighted the ways in which grief shows in all of us differently. And that there is no right or wrong way to deal with losing somebody. Actually, I think that the way in which Han dealt with this issue and plucked at the heartstrings is why I bought up the rating which I gave this novel.

All in all, this isn’t a book or series that I would give away, because the potential for rereading it far into the future is there. But, it’s also not a series or novel that I’m going to dive into picking up again and again. Maybe when I was younger, and could relate to Belly a little more… but as an adult? She’s kind of frustrating…

<- The Summer I Turned PrettyWe’ll Always Have Summer ->

Image source: BookDepository