I really like reading romances that feature an older couple. It definitely seems that the older I get, the older I want my protagonists to be (which makes total sense). Dawn and Mike might be a little bit older than I had kind of anticipated / desired, but they still fit that happy space in which I had older protagonists that made me happy. Plus, Dawn literally opens her own yarn store… something that I most definitely can see myself doing later in life.
There are a number of quite intense themes of moments throughout this novel. Starting with Dawn’s health scare and the crisis that she deals with. She may not have the best of responses to making sure that she gives those around her the benefit of the doubt, but I can also completely understand where she’s coming from. Spun throughout the romance that builds between her and Mike, it gives a far more realistic backdrop to the ways in which we have to negotiate romance in adulthood. Although, that may just be because health scares seem to be a fairly common occurrence within my life.
Mike is a pretty good lead. There is something to be said about people moving on from the past. High school is a weird time that seems to stick with all of us. But for some, it’s a time that they never move on from. I love how all throughout, Mike is kind of ashamed of who he was in high school (as I think we all are to some degree). But, the fact that he was a jock and popular doesn’t make him feel like revisiting his heyday. In fact, his past with Dawn is something that he actively regrets. It made me love him all that much more.
This is my second Susannah Nix book, and I must say, I am most definitely in love. Her characters are wonderfully relatable, and the story line just way too lovely and relatable. That, and the fact that the protagonists in this aren’t quite what fits the normal mould for romantic comedies that I’m used to. I’ll definitely continue to fill my shelves with her works, and keep smiling my goofy smile as I devour them…
I loved that this is a contemporary romance that deals, realistically, with inequality issues. I mean, at the centre it’s just another beautiful and heart-warming romance. But the other aspects of the plot that deal so directly with an issue that many people face? That was glorious. And, it’s not just dealing with a woman working in STEM (I actually wanted to work in the exact same area and eventually just gave up). But it is also about being a POC and how this can further become a restriction on what is available to a person.
I’ve got to admit, that I think Forrest’s quiet and steady pursual of Sierra is kind of adorable. I’m not normally a fan of that whole, steadily and quietly pursuing somebody. It can give off too strong a stalker vibes at times. But, it didn’t in this. Instead, Forrest’s court (even when Sierra was unaware of it) is very respectful and sweet. He takes the time to learn more about her and create a relationship that can be used as the basis of something more. Rather than just making a decision about their potential future.
On that note, I actually really loved the relationship building in this story. Sierra and Forrest slowly build up their knowledge of one another. It starts out antagonist, becomes closer and closer, and then eventually makes its way to something more serious. I love tales which build a relationship around truly getting to one another. I mean, I also love when there is all of that sexual sizzle, but sometimes it’s just nice when a couple takes that damn time to build something.
Alongside the discussions of inequality and the romance, there is also the secondary story line which is a bit of a whodunnit. I spent the whole time trying to figure out just how the fires were getting lit. What the motive was. Who had actually done it. And why there seemed to be a bit of a dodgy cover up throughout. Of course, it was all tied up quite nicely, and I definitely loved the comeuppance at the end when everything was revealed.
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. Everlytotally 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.
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.
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…
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 Smartunfolds, 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 (Jayneherself 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.
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.
Abel’s sarcasm and banter with Rian in Weight Expectations was honestly glorious. And witty. And adorable. When I discovered that not only has Carter written more books in this series… but that this featured my favourite trainer? Sign me up! Yet again, it hit all of my happy romance spots and drew me in.
This story had a very found family feeling to it. In some moments a little insta-family. But even that concern is addressed in the story line. Which makes it a little less on the nose in my opinion. Although I would love a revisit to this family to see how Mabel and Ainsley grow up together…
Able and Elliott may make a wonderful romantic couple. But as seems to be the case with many stories featuring young children, Mabel and Ainsley totally stole the show. And, even though they were adorable, I like that they were also the wedge that caused one of the upsets to a happy ending. When you’ve got children they feature heavily in every aspect of your life and Carter definitely reflected this in this story line.
There wasn’t quite as much witty banter as in Weight Expectations in this novel. Which I did miss a bit. But I think that on the flip side there was a lot more heart. And who could complain about that?
Steven is SUCH a sweetheart in the Knitting in the City series. Which means that when I found out that he gets his own LGBT romance… be still my beating heart!!! And yes. It was everything I could have wanted. And more.
Not only does Sticking to the Script have cameos from Quinn and Janie, Elizabeth and Nico also make a good appearance. Which works wonders since Steven’s other half, Ken features prominently in their story. Even Kat and Dan and Steven’s machinations to help them in their story take centre stage at one point. All of which work to give an alternate point of view to these moments in the main series.
I enjoyed that Ken is given a whole lot more fleshing out in this book. As a secondary character that was not all that likeable, I loved how Weaver was able to make me fall in love with him. Very, very quickly. She’s taken a character that I didn’t necessarily give a second thought to, to one that I kind of adored and wanted with all my heart to hug. Actually, there were moments I preferred him to Steven, who I was already in love with…
This is my first LGBT romance in the SmartyPants Romance novels that I’ve read (admittedly there aren’t many, unless you count the Love Beyond Measure series in which case…). I love that this was a wee bit of a departure from what I’ve come to expect. But still filled with that love and light that I’m getting used to in this world.
I’m slowly falling more and more in love with the SmartyPants Romance world. But, this is only my second dive into it. And I was NOT disappointed. Weight Expectations returns to the joyous world of Quinn’s office with some wonderfully humorous moments surrounding Janie’s pregnancy. Partner with that the fact that the second main setting is a gym and I was hooked.
I love the realism of fitness and working out throughout this book. One of my pet peeves is people constantly fighting to work towards a body type and weight that just isn’t healthy and doesn’t work for their genetics. Rian is aware of this, and whilst there are many moments of insecurities, she ends up being damn proud of her curves. It made me want to do a standing ovation.
Carlos on the other hand starts out a little less realistic about his workout goals. I mean, a couple of hours a day, working full time and clean eating? I’m not entirely sure WHO is able to do that. Certainly not anyone I know. Yet, even his slight insanity is mellowed out by the presence of Rian in his life.
I absolutely adored this novel and although it was through kobo plus, I cant wait to add the physical book to my shelves. This was such a fun and cute read that completely swept me away. Perfect for somebody who has their own gym obsession, but an inability to train at the moment. And you know… anyone who loves romance.