Review: Heart of the Deep by Tiffany Roberts

Reviewed by Caitlin

I don’t read a lot of paranormal romance; I mostly stick to historical, contemporary, and romcom. And I’m not big into romances between a human and a non-human (no ghosts or vampires for me, thanks!), but I was very curious about how a kraken/human romance would work, so I started with the first book of the series (reviewed by Jen a while back) and sped through the books.

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Review: The Earl I Ruined by Scarlett Peckham

Reviewed by Caitlin

Lady Constance Stonewell has all of Society eating out of the palm of her hand, and she makes it look effortless.

She’s a scandal, her clothes are intricately made and enormous (it is the 18th century after all), and her dowry is immense. She’s bright and lively and witty. And she’s the sister of a duke.

It’s no wonder Julian Haywood, the Earl of Apthorp, is in love with her. The problem? She confuses his propriety with a boring personality. When she learns something about his sexual tastes, she jumps to the wrong conclusions and accidentally gets his proclivities published in the scandal sheets.

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Review: The DILF by Amy Andrews

Reviewed by Caitlin

I don’t see a lot of romance novels where the heroine is older than the hero (by a good margin), and that particular trope intrigues me. I was predisposed to like this book, even after I found out DILF was Doctor I Like to Fuck and not Dad I Like to Fuck (single dads in romance novels is also a trope I really like), and the book was a fun, easy read that did not disappoint.

If you have Kindle Unlimited, this is a very easy novella to pick up. I think I finished it in a night, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It led me to read several more of Amy Andrews’s books.

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Joint Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Sara and Caitlin

Sara: A Princess in Theory was one of my favorite books of 2018 and yet, somehow I forgot to review it. Caitlin also listed it as one of her favorites and also didn’t review it. Luckily, there’s no expiration dates on great books. Enjoy our joint review below.

A fresh retelling of the classic Cinderella story, A Princess in Theory begins with our heroine Naledi “Ledi” Smith receiving some spam in her inbox. Ledi isn’t dumb enough to believe the email claiming she’s the long lost and Goddess ordained princess of Thesolo, a small African nation, but it brings up feelings and desires that she can’t ignore. Passed around in the foster care system after the death of her parents, stuck at two jobs in which she’s not appreciated and living out of a shoebox apartment while she completes her Epidemiology Masters degree, Ledi struggles with belonging and fitting in. Being a princess, even if it’s too good to be true, would be a vast improvement to the life Ledi’s been living.

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Review: So Wild by Eve Dangerfield

Reviewed by Caitlin

I don’t think there’s a single book of Eve Dangerfield’s I’ve read that I didn’t find immensely re-readable. She writes romcoms that are funny without falling into some of the more frustrating pitfalls of the genre – playing it too glib, avoiding any real, serious, true-to-life issues in the name of keeping it light. She also has a great voice.

So it’s not surprising I loved So Wild. Dangerfield once again writes another book I’ll definitely be revisiting. She is an autobuy, no question.

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Review: Dare to Love a Duke by Eva Leigh

Reviewed by Caitlin

Eva Leigh is an auto buy for me, even if her most recent book — Counting on a Countess — wasn’t my favorite (I didn’t quite believe the romance). However, this pairing has been hinted at for quite some time, and I was very, very excited for it. I am pleased to say that I adored this novel, and it got me through a rough couple of days while I dealt with a loved one in the hospital.

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Review: Mouth to Mouth by Tessa Bailey

Reviewed by Caitlin

I’ve read a handful of Tessa Bailey books. They’re easy to read and mostly fun. I do believe if you think too hard about them, they can get problematic — and since there is so much fun, easy romance out there that isn’t problematic, there isn’t really an excuse for it — but the ones of hers I like manage to avoid my worst triggers. I especially enjoyed The Major’s Welcome Home and Getaway Girl. Her collaboration with Eve Dangerfield in Captivated is lovely (but then again, I love Eve Dangerfield).

Mouth to Mouth‘s blurb should have been a warning to me. It’s just that I’d had a tough day, and it was on Kindle Unlimited, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Rory Prince is 24 years old and from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s got tattoos. He has a motorcycle. He’s got an anger problem. He beat someone so bad once that the police had to pull him off, and he did time for that crime. He works at the bar his family owns and he lifeguards as well. He’s a townie in a beach town that is full of rich people in the summer. And he is a total ladies’ man. He is a walking bundle of Bad Boy Tropes.

Olive Cunningham is rich. She is 18, a virgin, and book smart. She was homeschooled and unbelievably sheltered. She is young and naive and vulnerably sexy and wears glasses and sundresses and white shorts. She likes milkshakes for breakfast. She came to Long Beach for the summer to take a class for her psychology major before the school year started.

When Olive almost gets hit by a bus because she’s too engrossed in the book she’s reading, Rory saves her life. And he saves her life again in the ocean. And again when she’s near where a fight breaks out. They each fall in love at first sight. He calls her sunbeam. She thinks he’s the most handsome man who doesn’t understand how good his own heart is.

Sunbeam. He calls her sunbeam. The whole book.

Sunbeam.

Sunbeam.

Fine, we’re leaning into tropes. Fine. I can work with that.

Rory has a brother named Jamie. Jamie is gay. We find out Jamie is gay because when Jamie cleans up a cut Olive sustains, they’re interrupted by Marcus, who decides that Jamie being alone with a woman means he “change[d his] mind about liking dudes.” I almost wish we had Jamie introduce himself to Olive as “Rory’s super gay brother,” because it would have been the same level of awkward expository clunk.

Some authors think the hero telling the heroine she’s wearing something too revealing is romantic. I’ve also seen over-the-top jealousy used as proof that this love is so real. I hate both of those tropes, but Bailey obviously does not share my disdain for them. Seriously, boyfriend wouldn’t care if I walked out the house naked as long as I came home to him, and I’d much prefer seeing heroes view women’s bodies and choices that way.

Bailey LOVES a possessive, jealous alphahole. Some books it works okay, like when the heroine is older and already sexually and romantically experienced. Olive literally just graduated high school. 

Oh! If you’re wondering whether Rory’s jail time and all-consuming guilt is warranted, well, it’s not. 

Jamie was being attacked by five men for being gay and Rory beat the shit out of one of them until the cops came.

This jail time was the reason he stayed away from his mother for years. He was ashamed for being a hothead. Look, if you’re going to have a hero being violent like that and trying to be a better man after the fact, at least make the reason he feels shame be somewhat ambiguous. Rory’s Big Mistake was so obviously justified that it makes all his worries about not being good enough for Olive seem like an eye-rollingly obvious plot contrivance.

At the end of the novel, after some silly obligatory made-up road block from Olive due to some very-quickly-overcome insecurities, Rory promises to never leave her again, even if she breaks up with him. Some light stalking is treated as very romantic, despite their love story taking place over the course of a month, and the fact that Rory is possessive and jealous and so full-on, and keeps making a big deal about how young and innocent Olive is, means that the only feeling I’m left with when I finish this novel is the idea that this relationship is toxic. Get out, Olive, he’s seriously bad news.

If you want something light, fluffy, and fun, there are some very cute romances out there that have a lot of fun with romance tropes. I would not recommend this one.

Rating: D+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Mouth to Mouth
by Tessa Bailey
Release Date: November 12, 2018

Review: Misadventures with a Professor by Sierra Simone

Reviewed by Caitlin

I’m a big Sierra Simone fan. I think she’s a fantastic writer, even in her stories I don’t love quite as much, and she’s one of the great erotic romances putting out work today. I was floored that I had missed this book when this came out.

The first two-thirds of the story are lovely, but I’m still disappointed in the final third. While I will likely revisit this book in the future (seriously, she writes some really great sex scenes), I’m bummed this book’s ending didn’t fulfill its promising beginning.

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Review: Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn

Reviewed by Caitlin

Best of Luck is the third novel in Kate Clayborn’s Chance of a Lifetime trilogy. The series centers around three best friends friends – Kit, Zoe, and Greer – who drunkenly decide to play the lottery one night and win. Best of Luck is Greer’s story, and it’s my favorite of the series.

Greer Garson Hawthorne (her mother is an actress and a BIG personality) sees her portion of the winnings as her opportunity to finally go to college and get her degree so she can become a social worker. She’s never had much freedom because she was sick for so much of her teen years, and her family still worries about her health and safety. The money they spent on surgeries drained the family’s savings account, so two of Greer’s siblings and Greer herself were unable to go to college. Now that she won the lottery, college is her opportunity to gain independence. Unfortunately, she made a mistake on her courses and won’t be able to graduate without an art credit. She already has a job lined up, but she needs the degree and she can’t afford to wait a few more months. [Read more…]

Caitlin’s Favorites of 2018

by Caitlin

I read some really wonderful romances (and some romances that I did not love quite so much) in 2018. Some of them were novels that came out this year, while sometimes I caught up on an author’s backlog (Jennifer Ashley and Elizabeth Hoyt come to mind for that).

There were also a few books that got some much-deserved heat this year – like Cat Sebastian’s Unmasked by the Marquess and Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her – but both of those authors made my list for different books they published this year.

For my money, the most underrated romance this year was Meredith Duran’s The Sins of Lord Lockwood. Duran’s books are all incredible, but I’m especially floored this came and went without the pomp and circumstance it deserved. A sort of retelling of Count of Monte Cristo with a heroine who needs an heir (as opposed to the hero who needs it) and a historical romance where the heroine inherits her own lands and is genuinely powerful in her own right, Lockwood was an angsty masterpiece. Lord Liam Lockwood is brooding and a little broken and very sexy when the book starts and a sweet little puppy dog during the flashbacks. He is the best of both worlds. Lady Anna Lockwood is a role model with close female friendships and the weight of the world on her shoulders. I would recommend this book to literally anyone.

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