Tag Archives: SmartyPants Romance

Code of Honor by April White

Overview

Title: Code of Honor
Author: April White, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Cipher Security #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this romance, it was fun, cute and adorable. It just makes me want to dive right into the next and the next and the next Smartypants Romance book. Which honestly always happens when I read one of these books. I’ve also had a great new author to add to my shelves. Finally, the creation of this romance was so damn wonderful that I can’t wait to read Code of Matrimony – Colette was so lovely and sweet in this and I look forward to getting to know her better in the next novella, when there are wedding bells on the horizon.

Darius’ description as a Disney prince is yummy. I also like how he has a POC background and how this is responsible for some of his hang-ups. I mean, his parents flee from Israel because of political persecution, which then informs his whole life. Completely understandable. But he then becomes so rigid in these lines he drew for himself that he almost let’s Anna get away. That’s not even starting on the racist bullshit that is touched on within this glorious novel…

Anna is too gorgeous. Totally get what it’s like to have a broken filter and not really be capable of lying. I mean, I wish that I could control my facial expressions and mouth and actually lie. However, unlike real life, this is really endearing in a romance novel. Though I wish I had her super ninja powers. The fact that she learnt all of her ninja powers to be more like her DnD character…even more stupid in love with this character!!

Seriously enjoyed the mystery and crime that tied them together. The whole story was a bit open ended how that was left though. I might be a bit of a sucker, but I love it when there are consequences for the bad guy. Maybe it’ll happen in the follow up novella? Now I’ll just have to dive in in the hopes that the bad man gets his comeuppance.

<- Code of ConductCode of Matrimony ->

Image source: Goodreads

Carpentry and Cocktails by Nora Everly

Overview

Title: Carpentry and Cocktails
Author: Nora Everly, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Green Valley Library #5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I knew Willa and Everett’s story was going to be adorable from their first glimpses in Crime and Periodicals. But I didn’t quite expect this level of intensity. Or outside drama. I mean, I knew Willa had crap to deal with, but I didn’t quite expect either of their baggage to be so intense. Which, of course meant that it was seriously difficult to put this down and go to bed at night…

Everett’s issues were a little bit less intense than Willa’s, and I also found them to be a little bit disjointed. He has so many self-confidence issues with women because of his geekiness.  And the fact that women don’t want a hot, geeky, lumberjack in their lives. Personally, I just can’t picture this. I mean, who would NOT want that man in their lives and their bed? Maybe his issue is actually shyness, or I’m just projecting because that’s what I’d want in my bed…

Unlike Everett’s backstory, Willa’s actually broke my heart a little bit. Firstly, she has a mother who is just horrible and passive aggressive. Then there’s her ex-husband who is seriously terrifying. I mean, it doesn’t matter if he only hit her once. The man is a damn stalker and bully. It definitely hurt to read about. But then there’s her sisters. They’re freaking amazing. Like Ruby in Crime and Periodicals, Gracie is full of sassy teenage spunk. Spunk that helps her older sister find herself. (Not to mention that Ruby makes plenty of appearances too). And Sadie and Clara are most definitely “crazy sisters” but are willing to kick butt and take names in solidarity with their sibling.

Carpentry and Cocktails is yet another fantastic SmartyPants Romance and Nora Everly tale. It has all of the great cameos from other stories and hints at the next Monroe brother to fall. It was a constant struggle to try and out this book down, one that I honestly didn’t fight too hard against. One that I look forward to picking up again and again in the future.

<- Shelf AwarenessLove in Deed ->

Image source: Amazon

Shelf Awareness by Katie Ashley

Overview

Title: Shelf Awareness
Author: Katie Ashley, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Green Valley Library #4
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

I know that this is a romance. And I did most definitely love the lead couple Zeke and Finley. But I’m sorry. The true dream team in this story were GramBea, Dot and Estelle. They are freaking amazing and wonderful. And in every scene, they’re in, they completely steal the show. I definitely love stories with tough old birds who are done with not being themselves, instead loving running riot on the world. That, and the fact that they’re able to beat a potential badge to a pulp with their handbags. Iconic scene there.

Finley finding her husband cheating as the catalyst for her life change and move isn’t really a new mechanism of change. However, the fact that this happened with a man. Wow, that was a whole new twist. One that I really really appreciated, mostly because I seemed to have read a chunk of books with the whole cheating spouse as a driver in a bit of a hit. So, having a guy cheating spouse? It was a fresh new spin and a great way to give Finley some more challenges to overcome beyond being cheated on.

I loved how Zeke’s main challenge to overcome is in finding his bio family. For him, part of that is a positive journey, the other part, not so much. Interspersed within all of this is the ways he is co Stanley challenging Finley. Taking her cosplaying might be one of my favourite literary dates. Again, it was just adorable and fun to read about. And have a thing for geek men.

This was a gorgeous romance, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and would love to read again. Katie Ashley has definitely been added to my pile of loved authors. But what I loved the most about this was that throughout the whole story, Zeke and Finley help each other to heal from their past hurts and move on. They figure out who they are without losing themselves in a new relationship.

<- Prose Before BrosCarpentry and Cocktails ->

Image source: Marieke’s Books

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

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

Not Fooling Anyone by Allie Winters

Overview

Title: Not Fooling Anyone
Author: Allie Winters, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Lessons Learned #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2022

Thoughts

I’m not going to lie. I was looking forward to reading this just because of the boxing connection. Although my chosen sport isn’t boxing, that atmosphere and level of testosterone in a room is seriously familiar. And for whatever reason, it made me feel completely at home from the very first page. Plus, Ethan is just too damn cute in Under Pressure. Such a happy go lucky character who just rolls with the moody people in his life.

Like Under Pressure, Not Fooling Anyone partners someone with a pretty big grudge with someone who is cheerful. That perfect ying yang balance in a relationship. But that’s really where the similarities end. Ethan is this completely happy, cheerful, go with the flow kind of character. He’s kind of got the calmness in the world that I wish I had in fact. He just stubborn through everything and finds the light wherever he looks. Lexis on the other hand has more walls than you can count. For good reasons of course. But still, a very prickly porcupine.

I’ve had a few books come across my shelves lately with the fake relationship trope. And they’re honestly always fun. I particularly liked that this one was set up because of a psychology experiment. And, as completely predicted, their growing feelings for each other actually worked really well into the study. Plus, Lexie’s acknowledgement of her pettiness in using their “relationship” to stoke the jealousy in a girl who was horrible in the past… not going to lie, I think we’ve all imagined a similar level of petty revenge.

Not Fooling Anyone does come with a warning at the beginning. If there’s issues with drug abuse or even sexualising assault, it may not be the best contemporary romance to grace your shelves. Having said that, even though Winters deals with some pretty heavy issues, the amount of pure cuteness and emotion throughout this story stop it from being dark in any way, shape or form. A beautiful story and I can’t wait to read more by Allie Winters.

<- Under PressureMore Allie Winters ->

Image source: Goodreads

Under Pressure by Allie Winters

Overview

Title: Under Pressure
Author: Allie Winters, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Lessons Learned #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: 2021

Thoughts

I’m learning that any book in the SmartyPants Romance world is going to be a huge hit for me. But the fact that Under Pressure includes psychology (which I’m currently studying) and boxing (I love martial arts) just made me all that much happier. I love how Tyler and Mia both have stress issues, and choose to study stress. But both deal with it in such different ways, although both ways were completely legit and relatable.

Tyler’s back story was kind of difficult and hard to read. It was kind of heartbreaking to read actually. Yet, even with the hard lumps he’d been dealt, he was also kind of an idiot. There were many moments throughout that I just wanted to reach through the pages of the book and give him a smack. But, unlike some of the other more annoying male leads I’ve read, I still kind of adored Tyler, in spite of his stupidity.

Mia is in contrast is an incredibly sweet and endearing lead. I loved the way that she is able to balance out Tyler’s rougher edges. That, and when she finally learns to stand up for herself, my heart kind of melted a little bit. Mia might be the perfect balance to Tyler’s rough edges, but Tyler is able to balance put Mia’s sweet nature and encourage her to be herself. In fact, the romance aside, one of my favourite parts of this is when Mia takes a stand and starts to fight for herself.

The constant mention of Hogwarts houses made me fall in love with this book even more. The fact that it’s a Hufflepuff and Slytherin? That just made me so much, much, much more happy. It’s a brilliant trope that I don’t come across super often, but definitely need more of in my life. Then there are the yummy, steamy set scenes to round out my enjoyment and happiness in this book.

<- More SmartyPants RomanceNot Fooling Anyone ->

Image source: Goodreads

Parks and Provocation by Juliette Cross

Overview

Title: Parks and Provocation
Author: Juliette Cross, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Green Valley Heroes #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2022

Thoughts

I always love a good second chance romance. And there’s something about those moments in high school that you can’t forget that stick with us. So a combination of the two made me smile multiple times throughout reading this. Particularly when you realise how much of a torch Jed has carried for Lola since the very beginning.

As wonderful as the romance throughout this story is, its the very first scene that truly sets the tine for this whole novel. I mean, she locks her damn keys in the car (I’ve pretty much done this a thousand times). But, to top it off, her keys are in the ignition and the car is still running… I haven’t done that, but the humour and pure frustration of this moment had me giggling. That Cross mentions it in her dedication just made it a thousand times better.

Lola’s quandary about her emotions is a great sell. She starts off trying to convince herself that she’s just dating Jed to sell her podcast, but then… emotions. I also love that she spends a lot of time coming to terms with what her idea of success is. I mean, pride at mentioning who and what you are to people is a big part of our lives. But, most people just don’t actually judge you for your decisions. Its something that I’ve been working at coming to terms with myself.

Parks and Provocation is such a gorgeous and wonderful novel. Pretty much what I would expect from a SmartyPants Romance novel to be honest. It is just so damn gorgeous and sweet. Maybe not as many cameos as I was expecting, but still a sweet, wonderful and fun novel that took me away to a happier place for a while.

<- Forrest for the TreesMore SmartyPants Romance ->

Image source: Amazon

Mad About Ewe by Susannah Nix

Overview

Title: Mad About Ewe
Author: Susannah Nix, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Common Threads #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: 2021

Thoughts

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…

<- More Smartypants RomanceGive Love a Chai ->

Image source: Goodreads

Forrest for the Trees by Kilby Blades

Overview

Title: Forrest for the Trees
Author: Kilby Blades, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Green Valley Heroes #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: 2021

Thoughts

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.

<- More Kilby BladesParks and Provocation ->

Image source: Goodreads