Tag Archives: Contemporary romance

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Overview

Title: Sweet Tea and Sympathy
Author: Molly Harper
Series: Southern Eclectic #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017

Thoughts

You know a book is going to be good when it starts with a massive event that goes belly up because there are flamingos trying to eat the centre-piece. Amongst other shenanigans. It certainly makes for an incredibly easy and fun read. One that I enjoyed far more than I had anticipated. Mostly because I had never heard of Molly Harper and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Turns out I should expect some lovely romance, some wonderful southern culture (which I still know next to nothing about) and a whole lot of random enjoyment.

One of the aspects I always enjoy in fish-out-of-water stories is the fact that you get to discover a never before understood world right alongside the main character. It lets you bumble into a world that you literally know nothing of, and discover all of the intricacies along the way. Margot’s discovery of the family that she never knew and a world that she never knew she wanted does this perfectly. Plus, the whole family vibe immediately makes her fit in, even when she doesn’t quite. Plus, there’s the whole getting to know her family that you get to do alongside her. And what a unique and quirky bunch that is! Again, I absolutely adored this.

This was kind of one of those insta-lust romances. It wasn’t insta-love (thank goodness), but there was still that immediate moment of petting between Margot and Kyle as soon as the story starts. Considering this is something that I don’t always love, I found it quite pleasant. I mean, who hasn’t seen some irresistible hunk and just thought… yummm?? The fact that it just gets continuously more complicated as the story unfolds just made me sink deeper and deeper into the relationship. This was one of those ones that I most definitely emotionally invested in. Not something I necessarily do with all of the romances that I’ve been powering through lately.

I love how this story finished with the couple wanting to see how the relationship unfolds and looking to a future. Indeed, love isn’t even mentioned throughout as anything but a future possibility. It’s not a given, and it’s not seen as the ultimate goal. Instead, there’s a sense of potential, happiness and contentment at the end of the tale. It’s sometimes frustrating how every romance finishes with a wedding and happily ever after feel. This felt like the steps that go towards obtaining that goal. I’m sure in the next few books in this series, I’ll probably find out that Margot and Kyle, do, in fact get their marriage and happily ever after. But I love how it doesn’t feel completely like a given.

<- More Molly HarperAin’t She a Peach ->

Image source: Goodreads

Dare to Resist by Carly Phillips

Overview

Title: Dare to Resist
Author: Carly Phillips
Series: Dare Nation #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

There’s something that I’m loving about two romance tropes at the moment. The office romance trope. And the falling for a billionaire one. The billionaire obsession makes total sense – it would be lovely not to have any financial worries. The office one… well, there’s something about pencil skirts and office politics that seems to make me intrigued and just a little bit excited. Phillips is completely hitting those two happy places spot on in this book.

I didn’t realise until I was partway into this book that whilst Dare to Resist is the first book in Dare Nation, there’s kind of some series that take place before it. Which means that although I couldn’t put this down… I had to reach for the first book in the Dare to Love series. I mean, that’s where all of the intense and slightly insane Dare family loves start… so you just have to start at the beginning… but I digress. Although there are a handful of other stories which take place before Dare to Resist, it is not really necessary to read these beforehand. This story stands alone brilliantly and joyfully.

I love how Quinn is able to seriously take a good look at her past and her past assumptions, and find a way to move on. She’s got some scars and frustrations that her family has created (like everyone’s families), Austin less so, but he’s still got a few. They both spend most of this book working through their internal crap to find their happily ever after. For me, in this book, it’s the assumptions that Quinn’s family have made and continue to make about her are the most compelling of these. The fact that it involves a baby and I’ve just had a baby – that just made it all that much more intriguing and eager for me to dive right in.

This was one of those really easy and simple reads that had me diving right in and not putting it down. It was incredibly easy to go cover to cover with my read through and just sink into the joys of the Dare family. It’s gotten me very, very intrigued to go right back to the beginning with Dare to Love and find out more about these lovely and beautiful dynamics.

<- More Carly PhillipsDare to Tempt ->

Image source: Goodreads

Crime and Periodicals by Nora Everly

Overview

Title: Crime and Periodicals
Author: Nora Everly
Series: Green Valley Library #2, SmartyPants Romance
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: 2019

Thoughts

One of the things that I’m absolutely loving about the literature that is coming out these days is that there is a lot more representation of neurodivergent characters throughout. Even though in this book, the neurodivergent Harry isn’t one of the lead romantic characters, he is still front and centre. And honestly, he is so damn ridiculously gorgeous that there are often moments where he steals the spotlight. As do Wyatt’s two daughters throughout. Which, if there are children in a story, I can completely get behind them doing a whole lot of show stealing.

I’ve seen a lot of mentions of anxiety throughout the media that I consume. Sometimes it’s used as a bit of a punchline (as are many other things). And often I’ve seen it kind of glorified or made a little sexy. When I see it glorified and made into something that isn’t completely debilitating at times, I get seriously pissed. Believe me, if you have issues with anxiety – it is not fun, it is not sexy and it is not desirable. Everly totally gets this. Sabine’s issues with her anxiety and mental health frustrate the hell out of her. They constantly impact her life, and she is not in any way, shape or form enamoured with her reality. In fact, much of what I loved about this story was her trying to overcome her “crap” and build a more functioning life for herself. With or without Wyatt’s involvement.

I also love that this story features a dead-beat mother. It’s tragic and definitely makes your heart hurt for the girls, but again, it’s a nice look at something that is realistic. Not all mothers are great at mothering, and some are just downright terrible. I love that Sabine is able to go a long way towards healing the hurt and damage that is inflicted upon Wyatt’s poor children. Can you tell that I found the kids absolute show-stealers in this book? I love the romance and the development of Sabine and Wyatt’s relationship, but it’s the ways in which their children are worked into the future that really had my heart doing all of the happy leaps.

Like many of the other SmartyPants Romance books that I’ve read, there are many moments that dove-tail perfectly into the rest of the universe-happenings. Those mentions of some beautiful characters give a great sense of familiarity, particularly when I was reading a whole new author for me. An author that I must admit I have completely fallen in love with. And one that I look forward to reading again and again.

<- Love in Due TimeProse Before Bros ->

Image source: Goodreads

Love in Due Time by L.B. Dunbar

Overview

Title: Love in Due Time
Author: L.B. Dunbar
Series: Green Valley Library #1, SmartyPants Romance
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: 2019

Thoughts

I have to be honest, I get a little bit over the storylines that feature a woman who has only had sex with the one man. Or who are virgins before they meet their one and only… and this did have a bit of that kind of trope. It made me feel a little hesitant to sink into this novel. Although I didn’t necessarily love that Naomi spent twenty-odd years waiting for Nathan to come back into her life, I did still enjoy this story. Probably because Naomi didn’t really spend that time pining for and waiting for one man, but just dealt with her sexuality and weird messed up feelings about it in her own time and her own way.

There are pretty much no contemporary books on my shelves that feature wiccans. Sure, I have plenty of paranormal stories which feature this practice – but they combine the paranormal views of magic. This is the first one that is all about what it’s actually like to practice Wicca in the everyday world. The practices, the beliefs, and the prejudice that people have to face. The fact that it endangers Naomi on a regular basis because she’s in a small town… it’s completely understandable and realistic. Unlike all other stories that I’ve read featuring Wicca.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t go into a career as a librarian – I have a book obsession and am an introvert. Naomi’s job and the constant, beautiful reminders of Bethany Winston made me wonder even more why I haven’t trialled this as a career. Although, to be fair, I do love the career that I currently have… but I digress. The backdrop of the library and it’s potential for being closed against the drama of Naomi and Nathan’s relationship is absolutely gorgeous. Then, there’s the complete counterpoint of Nathan’s dramas – the Iron Wraiths and all of their horribleness. It made me fairly uncomfortable throughout. But it was most certainly the perfect obstacle to overcome.

I may have been a bit hesitant about reading this due to the virgin trope – but I did end up absolutely loving it. The virgin trope is a little less painful than I had anticipated – and probably takes up more of my review than it did of the actual story line. Definitely an enjoyable book that I look forward to reading again and again.

<- More SmartyPants RomanceCrime and Periodicals ->

Image source: Goodreads

Been There Done That by Hope Ellis

Overview

Title: Been There Done That
Author: Hope Ellis
Series: Leffersbee #1, SmartyPants Romance
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

Stories that feature a past and reconciliation in the romance department pretty much always make me happy. There is just something so sweet and beautiful about them. And often, a little bit heartbreaking. And this story really was no different. It was kind of tragic in moments when you realised all that was lost because of one teenage idiots’ rash decisions. But, it was also lovely – teenage sweethearts don’t always end up having their happily ever after because it is ridiculously hard to grow with another human being.

I love that there is a bit of a moment throughout this in which Zora points out that it is probably good that she and Nick didn’t run off into the sunset to get married. By being apart for the majority of their 20’s, they’re able to grow into their own people. It makes them a lot less reliant on each other in their structure for identity. And so much more sure of themselves. My partner and I have been together since we were eighteen – it is incredibly difficult to maintain some aspects of a relationship when you go through the drastic changes that your 20’s bring.

The title of this story makes it pretty obvious that there is history, and I love that it has this sense of yup, been there, done that. Not doing it again. Especially from Zora – she is such a little firecracker and is able to seriously hold her own. Which, of course is why I fell in love with her so quickly. I always love a strong, slightly off-kilter woman who is able to stand up for herself. Also whilst continuously being slightly uncoordinated and a little bit unable to stop the word vomit. She is so quirky and cute – the type of heroine that is pretty common in the SmartyPants Romance books and the reason I’m so obsessed with these stories.

This is yet another wonderful contemporary romance that made me incredibly happy and content. It’s so easy to understand the flaws and mistakes of both of the characters. And, it is just so damn cute. I definitely have a huge weakness for the SmartyPants Romance books, and I am steadily filling my shelves very happily with these…

<- More SmartyPants RomanceBefore and After You ->

Image source: Goodreads

Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix

Overview

Title: Remedial Rocket Science
Author: Susannah Nix
Series: Chemistry Lessons #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017

Thoughts

I both liked and disliked the fact that Nix starts off this book with a trigger warning in the front. It’s great, because you don’t want to read something that might trigger you. But it also made me feel a little hesitant about reading this, because I didn’t know if I would be triggered by said triggers. Plus, at the core of it all, I really hate stories in which infidelity is rewarded. Personally for me, I find it to be a pretty big moral line that shouldn’t be crossed. Having said that, once I got into this story… I found that those “triggers” within the warning were so damn minimal that I wasn’t bothered in the slightest.

I’m going to be honest, it took me a little while to get my head around the timeline. I must have missed the three years ago heading in the first chapter, so I was wondering what was going on when the time jumped. But, I put that entirely down to my own brain lately. Once I got into the swing of things though, I found this book impossible to put down. In fact, I pulled an all-nighter to finish this. Which was bad, but also, oh so good. As soon as the dynamic between Melody and Jeremy starts to make a bit more sense, this became one of my favourite reads in a while. It just took a little while to get going.

I really enjoyed the many geeky references throughout this book. You can tell that Nix has many geeky interests and there were so many comments littered throughout. It wasn’t anything overwhelming, and if you’re not a fan of things such as Star Wars you wouldn’t pick up on it. They were lovely little moments and easter eggs that I will probably find more of on another read through. I know next to nothing about Susannah Nix, but reading this, I want to find out more.

Jeremy and Melody are a lovely couple, but it was the girl-friendship with Lacey that I really got into. Lacey is something intense and completely unexpected. Especially after the first meeting with her. It’s nice that whilst this is a story about Melody falling in love and finding her forever person, it’s also about settling into a new city. And, something I still haven’t figured out, how to make friends as an adult…

<- More Susannah NixIntermediate Thermodynamics ->

Image source: Kobo

Love in Slow Motion by E.M. Lindsey

Overview

Title: Love in Slow Motion
Author: E.M. Lindsey
Series: Love Beyond Measure #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance, LGBTQI
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

It’s taken me a long time to get to this book, considering its been sitting on my bedside table for about six months. I loved The Edge of Heaven, so I think that although I was hoping to love this just as much, I was also a little bit hesitant. Sometimes a banger of a first book can be followed by a not so good second book, and I was hoping against hope that that wouldn’t be the case. Luckily for me, Love in Slow Motion was just as good, sweet and wonderful.

I’ve read a lot on my online book groups about how much people love a “slow burn romance”. And I can’t say that it’s something that I’ve ever noticed much in the romances that I’ve read. There are plenty that feature a couple in which one has always had a crush, or friends to lovers and such. But the slow burn? Wow, I finally get what people are actually talking about. It is a very different beast to the other romance tropes that I’ve been enjoying. I might not want it all the time – I found that the slow burn also meant that we were slow getting to the action, and I needed things to hurry up a little. There is still something so toe curling and butterfly inducing about it that makes me want to read another, similar slow burn. Although, admittedly, that could just be Lindsey’s writing…

Reading the blurb of Love in Slow Motion, I was expecting something both beautiful and a little cringe-worthy. After all, a man falls in love with his best mates dad… there may only be seventeen years difference, but I always find the age gap thing a bit uncomfortable. The fact that Frederic is the father of Ilan’s best friend… I was expecting some serious catastrophic damage and many, many cringe-worthy moments. Yet, somehow, Lindsey was able to make this one of my favourite literary couples of late. All those things that I thought would be seriously cringe-worthy and filled with second-hand embarrassment and discomfort… didn’t even happen.

For all of my reservations on starting this book, I completely adored it. It was fun and witty. Cute and heartfelt as needed. It’s a reminder that falling in love, no matter how we do it can be filled with many, many pitfalls. Many of them being our own insecurities… Lindsey is able to show amazing vulnerability in her characters without it being a painful read. Definitely one of those romances that made my heart beat faster and then skip a beat as I hoped for that happily ever after moment.

<- The Edge of HeavenMore E.M. Lindsey ->

Image source: Amazon

Heart Smart by Emma Lee Jayne

Overview

Title: Heart Smart
Author: Emma Lee Jayne
Series: Work For It #2, SmartyPants Romance
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

Max and Holly are an incredibly well fit and beautiful couple. And you can tell that they’re going to be so from the very beginning. Primarily because he is the typical grouchy male lead who doesn’t let anyone close. And although Holly isn’t all sunshine and roses, she certainly comes across as that in moments. The more you get to know each of them as Heart Smart unfolds, the more you realise that these initial views aren’t quite correct. But, they’re still a good indication of how well-fit and beautiful the couple of this romance are.

Both Holly and Max are neurodivergent, and although there are some liberties taken (Jayne herself states this at the end of the story), it still has a total sense of authenticity to it. I particularly loved the lack of understanding shown by others – in particular Holly’s ex-husband. And the ways in which other peoples’ inability to understand people who are different manages to scar the two leads. Even if we state that other peoples’ opinions don’t matter, they often do. And when you can’t conform to them, there are some very varied and not always healthy shields that people construct to prevent themselves from getting hurt again. Both Max and Holly might do this is slightly different ways throughout, but they do do them.

It took a long time for me to want to dive right back into tales of academia – I got pretty bitten by that realm when I was a part of it. But, there were also aspects of it that I absolutely adored. And Heart Smart manages to highlight many of them. The total dedication to one area of study, the fascination, the peace and quiet of the lab out of hours… all of those things that Max obviously relishes are things that I, myself, often miss. But, then there’s many of the hurdles that Holly faces – the expectations to conform to a certain type of “smarts”, the requirements of a very specific study pathway, even if it doesn’t work for you… I love how Jayne is able to talk about both these negative and positive aspects throughout her writing.

I absolutely loved reading this book and I am completely disappointed that it is over. Even though you know how this story is going to end (as you always do with a good romance), the journey and the bumps along the way are just stunning. It was a story that was beautiful and heartfelt, and made me think about all of the wonderful ways in which people can create their own families.

<- Street SmartBook Smart ->

Image source: Goodreads

Street Smart by Aly Stiles

Overview

Title: Street Smart
Author: Aly Stiles
Series: Work for It #1, SmartyPants Romance
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

So this is definitely a Smartypants Romance book that doesn’t have a ridiculously strong connection to the rest of the series. Or at least, the books that I’ve managed to read in this collection. The mention of the Sandekes is pretty much it. But, I can’t say that that really impacted my enjoyment all that much. I still absolutely adored this tale and couldn’t bear to put it down. It’s a fun, adventurous tale that most definitely left me smiling and just generally enjoying the world that Stiles is able to weave around you.

Although there was insta-love in this story, I really enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t quite insta-love. Through working closely together, Eva and Marcos are able to build their understanding of each other and each other’s strengths. It’s this that truly draws them to one another again and again. Alright, Eva was a lot more aware of some of Marcos’ talents before they meet (the whole resume and hiring thing). But I do like how they slowly get to know one another to build that relationship, and then decide to go further in their relations.

Most stories I’ve read that feature an office romance have the man being the one who is in charge and who has all of the power. I love that in this story, it is Eva who is the office superior. She’s the one who is nominally in charge – a fantastic dynamic and one that I don’t see nearly often enough. The risks and trials that she takes to be with Marcos are also highlighted. Alongside the constantly frustrating feeling of being overlooked and underestimated. It was certainly a wonderful alteration in the expected. One that I want to read more of.

Street Smart is a fantastic romance. It has strong characters, a fun story line and a wonderful sense of being dropped into the corporate world. I love that alongside falling in love, Marcos and Eva are trying to uncover an espionage plot. I have absolutely no interest in joining the corporate world. But I did enjoy the insight that this cutesy romance granted me.

<- More SmartyPants RomanceHeart Smart ->

Image source: Goodreads

Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

Overview

Title: Dare to Love
Author: Carly Phillips
Series: Dare to Love #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2013

Thoughts

There is a really fine line when writing romances with a dominant male – they have to be a little toe curling with their orders. But they also can’t be too overbearing. I’ve read some romances which the line between dominant and abusive feels seriously blurred and flirted with. Phillips doesn’t even come close to that line and discomfort. She is able to write Ian as an incredibly domineering and controlling man, but one that you really want to have in your life. One you want to reach out to and hug.

I also really enjoyed the fact that alongside this level of controlling, Riley also questions the dominant side of Ian. She even goes so far as to really delve into whether her submissions to him are dangerous to her independence, or just something enjoyable between two consenting adults. As I’ve said, some of the bodice rippers that I’ve read don’t really go near this line very well, and Phillips is completely able to do so. Which just made me love both Riley and Ian even more.

Ian’s history with his father and the existence of the “two families” is so tragic and difficult to comprehend. I can completely understand why the man has some pretty big baggage, particularly with his counterpoint in the other family. I like that as Riley and Ian are getting to know one another, Ian is forced to not only confront his own past, but also the family that he never really wanted to know. Now I can’t wait to see how Alex experienced this and what scars he’s been left with. Riley also has some serious trust issues that she spends most of the book working through. She might think that her childhood hasn’t scarred her like, but like everyone else, our childhood’s can influence who we are today and the way we maintain our relationships.

I love that both Riley and Ian have to confront their past and figure out how to trust one another in this story. it’s a great novel, and I do love a bit of the domineering sexuality that comes out. But it was the emotional turmoil and bonding that truly made me not want to put this book down. And, in fact, I pretty much didn’t – reading this all in one day.

<- More Carly PhillipsDare to Desire ->

Image source: Carly Phillips