Review: Until November by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Reviewed by Ericka

I had mixed feelings about this book. I have read my fair share of dominant alpha males but this one was disappointing and frustrating.

November moved from New York to Tennessee to live with her father following a brutal attack. Her father owns a strip club and offers her a job working with the bookkeeping and financials during closing hours. The one time she is there during operating hours, she is confronted by the security guard Asher Mayson. When she first meets Asher he is rude, mean, and has some out of line assumptions.

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Review: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

Reviewed by Ericka

I have read LJ Shen’s previous series called the Sinners of Saints series but this one is my favorite out of all the others she has written. For one it has the mafia and I love anything dealing with the mafia.

Francesca is the daughter of a powerful mafia leader. She has been groomed her whole life that after graduating high school her main concern and focus is to get married and produce heirs to the family business. On the night of the masquerade (which everyone is dressed as gods and goddesses) she feels like fate is going to bring her and her childhood love together but things take a turn for the worst and her fate as she would have it is stolen from her.

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Review: Bartender With Benefits by Mickey Miller

Reviewed by Ericka

This is the fourth installment in the Blackwell After Dark Series. Out of all of them, this one is my favorite. One of my favorite tropes is when childhood friends become lovers.

Clarissa Hanks has returned home from Harvard to be with her mother after she was diagnosed with cancer. She is also they younger sister of Cole who was the main character in book one, Professor with Benefits. Clarissa doesn’t really know exactly what she wants in life or which direction to start. Mason is Cole’s best friend. He has always had feelings for Clarissa but for the sake of his friendship with Cole he doesn’t act on those feelings. Mason has always wanted to open his own bar. When he goes through the process of getting a business loan they are mistaken as a couple and as business partners and the only way to secure the loan they have to proceed with the fake relationship.

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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: Mechanic with Benefits by Mickey Miller

Reviewed by Ericka

This is the second book in the Blackwell stand alone series. It begins being steamy, hot, and a lot of adult sexy time.

Haley is on her way to her sister’s wedding and has to travel alone since she recently broke off her engagement. Her car breaks down in the small town of Blackwell where everything closes early and her options are limited. She is heart broken and desperate. She walks in the rain and stumbles upon a mechanic shop and there she meets the town’s all around jerk, Liam. He is extremely rude and is reluctant to help her. She also puts him in another predicament of being her fake boyfriend for the wedding. After much arguing he agrees but only with one condition. He gets to have her whenever and however he wants her.

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Ericka’s Favorites of 2018

by Ericka

It seemed that this year all of the books that I read consisted of Dominant Alpha males. I must have a soft spot for the ones that have dark gruesome past or the Doms that are into some really hardcore mess. These are authors that were all new to me with the exception of one that I recommend.

The Stolen Duet Duology by BB Reid which consists of book one being The Bandit and book two being The Knight. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this duology because it has some tropes that are definitely on my “Most Hated Tropes” list. After two recommendations from friends I decided to give it a try. Mostly what got me hooked on them is because they are about the Mafia. I love a good book about the Mafia. These two books are lengthy but because of the pace of the books they can be finished within one sitting. I finished them both in two days and I would recommend to read them back to back if you decided to read them.

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Review: Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Reviewed by Ericka

This story reminds me of those cute cozy little Hallmark romance movies. Charlotte has just broken her engagement off after finding her ex-fiance cheating on her. She goes to the bridal shop to return her dress to get a refund but can only get an exchange or store credit. While she is there, she finds a gown that is absolutely beautiful, and inside the gown is sewn a hand written note stitched in from the groom. She has no idea who the couple is but finds the gesture romantic. She gets the dress and conducts some drunk research. [Read more…]

Review: Professor with Benefits by Mickey Miller

Reviewed by Ericka

This is an author that I recently stumbled on earlier this year and he is definitely one that I believe is underrated.  This Dom-Com is about a college student living in Blackwell named Rose that is studying to become a sex therapist. She has never had sex before, being that she wants her first time to be more for research purposes. She thinks that her teacher would be great to help her with her “research.” All she wants is sixty days, and after that everything go back to normal. [Read more…]

Review: The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole

Reviewed by Ericka

Harper Connelly had been in hiding for years from her ex that had physically abused her. She is living with horrific scars on her back as a constant reminder of what she had to endure while being with him.  Even though he is in prison, Harper is constantly being cautious about her surroundings, looking over her shoulder, and getting nervous anytime someone is near her. Her physical scars left her suffering mentally and from having any kind of normality. After finally getting tired of what her life has become, she goes to a tattoo shop call Second Circle owned my Trent Andrews. Trent is a tattoo artist that specializes in covering scars. He enjoys life and wants to live it to his fullest. When he meets Harper, he sees something in her that makes him want to risk everything to get close to her and help her rebuild her confidence. [Read more…]

Review: Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

Reviewed by Debz

Don’t judge me guys, but this is hands down one of my favorite books to read, ever. I was on twitter yesterday and there was an ongoing conversation about books that bring you out of a reading slump, and this is it for me. It never fails to bring me out of that dark place when books have to meaning and I’m unmotivated. I absolutely love it.

This book is about this amazing human Ella Rodriguez and her online bff and real life celebrity hottie Brian Oliver (unbeknownst to Ella of course). They met on her blog when she wrote a post bashing the casting of Brian as the main character in her favorite book series and have been friends ever since.

It’s super heartbreaking what Ella goes through in this book. On her birthday, she and her mum, her only parent and her rock get into an accident that kills her mum and leaves her almost crippled and scarred. She’s not only forced to live without her mum, she has to move to California with her father who abandoned her and his resentful new family. I honestly couldn’t do it. [Read more…]