#Review: A Cupid in London, by Tom Caval

Title: A Cupid in London
Author: Tom Caval
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is our first Valentine’s Day together, so it has to be extremely special.

Harry is excited about his first Valentine’s Day with his boyfriend Will, who helped him get over a broken heart.

To be on time, he’s willing to do anything. He’ll even get on the bus dressed in a ridiculous costume that draws more than a few looks, while carrying a box of pink cupcakes.

But when he arrives home, ready to start the special evening in a sexy way, Harry’s jaw drops when he realizes that Will is not alone …

Single or not, treat yourself with this a funny and unapologetically cheesy gay Valentine’s short story, full of tender and unexpected moments.” (description from Goodreads)

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I had this story sitting on my Kindle for a few months. I needed a short read to have with my coffee this morning and I’m glad this was the story I picked up.

It’s a quick read. It’s a light read. But it’s also carrying a strong message. Acceptance and being open minded is how we should all be, especially when it comes to family. I liked how the scene between Noah’s father, Will, and Harry played out. It was a confrontation without a perfect outcome, but it still may have planted a seed for a better future for the family and for Noah. I’d like to see where this leads if the story is to continue later on.

I’m going to have to check out more of Caval’s work after reading this one. I have a feeling I’ll being enjoying it.

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If you’d like a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

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About the Author:

After years of dating men, Tom still considers himself as one who’s far from being an expert in the love domain; yet, being courageous, he continues to evolve and learns a bit about himself in the process.

Endowed with a creative mind and a witty perspective of a real world where one can have their fantasies come alive, his ingenuity with words, guy stories and the human nature, motivates him to put together his experiences into fiction-laced writing.

When he is not putting his characters into real trouble, Tom collects inspiration for his stories from his (and his friends) dating life, pop culture, reading Gay comedy romance, and exploring the nightlife. Tom’s idols are Sophie Kinsella, Candance Bushnell and Truman Capote.

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#Review: Rainy Day Friends, by @JillShalvis

Title: Rainy Day Friends (Wildstone #2)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Rating: 4/5 stars

Following the USA Today bestseller, Lost and Found Sisters, comes Rainy Day Friends, Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship.

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.” (description from Goodreads)

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I recently read the first Wildstone book Lost and Found Sisters, which lead me to go buy the novella The Good Luck Sister. While I didn’t dive straight into that novella yet, I didn’t let myself wait too long before jumping into book 2 in the series Rainy Day Friends. I’m glad I decided to read this one when I did. Book 3 will be coming out in a month or two and it would have been too long of a wait to revisit the town of Wildstone.

What I like about this series is that each book really does stand on it’s own. With Shalvis’ romances, each series stands alone, yet they are also closely related and have interconnecting characters throughout. I really enjoy those other series, but Wildstone is a fresh change for me. This book is set in Wildstone, but instead of being set in town like the first book was, it mostly takes place on the Capriotti Winery. The winery is almost like a small town in itself with a family full of characters, gossip, and friendship.

For those familiar with Shalvis’ writing, you know what you’re going to get with her well-developed characters and how the multiple storylines weave together. Her writing is just as strong as ever in this one. If this ends up being your first Shalvis book, you’re in for a treat and possibly an increase in your TBR piles.

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If you’d like a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

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About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Review: When We Found Home, by @SusanMallery

Title: When We Found Home
Author: Susan Mallery
Rating: 4/5 stars

Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love… 

Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. But affection isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

In this emotional, humorous and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family–blended by surprise, not by choice–and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve been holding off reading this book for many months. When you buy a signed copy, you don’t want to ruin it with a silly thing like holding it and reading. Instead, I got my hands on the audiobook, and I devoured it like I have with the other Susan Mallery novels I’ve read.

Like her others, this novel had a big cast of characters and a few storylines throughout. While sometimes this can be confusing to a reader, it’s not the case with this book. Each character’s story and full arc is given it’s time to play out without getter overshadowed with any of the others. I really liked how it was all connected together and concluded.

There’s a strong theme of family throughout, which I see in much of Mallery’s work. Family is important, but when characters haven’t grown up with a real sense of what that can be like, the opportunity to learn appears. It was great to see the journey Malcolm, Keira, and Callie took to find what family meant to each of them and what life can be with a support system.

While I’m thought this was a great standalone that wrapped up how it should have, I’m also looking forward to reading the novella It Started One Christmas. It looks like it’ll continue Keira’s story a little bit. I think it will be nice to see how she’s grown over whatever time gap there is.

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You can buy this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.

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Review: If My Body Could Speak, by @blythe_baird

Title: If My Body Could Speak
Author: Blythe Baird
Rating: 5/5 stars

If My Body Could Speak is about fighting for the space one takes up in a world that would rather they take up none at all. Blythe Baird deftly and uniquely charts a course through various modes of womanhood and women’s bodies. Through love, loss, and the struggles of disordered eating, If My Body Could Speak uses sharp narratives and visceral imagery to get to the heart of a many-layered existence, speaking to many generations at once.” (description from Goodreads)

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Yet another amazing collection that Button Poetry has put out. I bought a copy knowing only that I have yet to be disappointed by the publisher’s previous titles. Now, having read Baird’s poems, I can say that I was blown away and wish I had more from the poet to read.

The poems are filled with honesty and beauty, all while not shying away from heavy subject matter. Baird could easily be my new favorite poet. I’ll be keeping on eye out for anything new from now on!

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Button Poetry | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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About the Author:

Blythe Baird is a 19-year-old actress, poet, and feminist. In 2014, she represented Chicago as the youngest competitor at the National Poetry Slam. In 2015, she returned to NPS representing the Twin Cities Unified team. 

Her work has been published or featured by The Huffington Post, Ashton Kutcher, A-Plus, Write Bloody, EverydayFeminism, Button Poetry, Chicago Literati, Banango Street, and Wicked Banshee, among others. She is currently studying creative writing, women’s studies, and ASL at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. 

With three nominations at the ICFF including Best Picture, Baird takes on the role of Stephen Baldwin’s daughter in Auslynn Films 2015 indie feature “The UnMiracle.” 

In the past year, Baird’s poetry has gone viral on the internet. Her poem “Girl Code 101” has been utilized in academic lesson plans across the globe, featured in Occidental College’s updated “The Vagina Monologues,” and holds the state title for Poetry Interpretation at Colorado’s national speech tournament.

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Review: Meant to Be, by @AlisonBliss2

Title: Meant to Be (Perfect Fit #3.5)
Author: Alison Bliss
Rating: 4/5 stars

Alison Bliss returns with a novella in her popular Perfect Fit series. These laugh-out-loud romantic comedies feature curvaceous heroines finding love and convincing us that confident and sexy comes in all shapes and sizes.

Sidney Larson always thought dark-haired, blue-eyed Brett Carmichael was sinfully sexy, to say nothing of the muscular mechanic’s talent with his hands. But Sidney so didn’t have time for Brett’s overbearing tendencies when they were together so she broke things off. Now a chance encounter brings Brett back into her life, and Sidney can’t help but notice intriguing changes in her ex. So what’s stopping her from revisiting their scorching-hot chemistry?

Since Sidney dumped him, Brett’s made major life adjustments, thanks to therapy and a long, hard look at himself. Sure, he’s still intense but he knows how to focus his energy on his career, not on trying to control a fantastic woman like Sidney. Brett finds the sweet, generous brunette more seductive than ever, but now that he’s finally worthy of her, will she be willing to give him a second chance?

24,000 words” (description from Goodreads)

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I wanted to read this novella almost on a whim. I know of Alison Bliss and I own two of the three Perfect Fit novels. I just haven’t read them yet. When Meant to Be jumped in front of me I figured it was the best way to dive into Bliss’ series. I was definitely right to do so.

Like many novellas, for me, Meant to Be gives me both a taste of the author’s writing and a taste of the series in a short amount of time. I read this one fairly quickly for me and it was hard to put down when life told me to. I really enjoyed Brett and how Bliss wrote him. He’s flawed, he knows it, he’s making a constant effort to change for the better. Sidney is a strong woman, doesn’t want to give into her heart for good reason. These two have been apart for a year, but as the title suggests, some things are just meant to be. The journey won’t be easy, but reading that journey was a great Valentine’s Day treat for me!

I’ll definitely be visiting this series again soon.

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You can buy this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Alison Bliss is a best-selling, award-winning author of humorous, contemporary romances. A born and raised Texan, she currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, two kids, and their dogs. As the youngest of five girls, she has never turned down a challenge or been called by the right name. Alison believes the best way to find out if someone is your soul mate is by canoeing with them because if you both make it back alive, it’s obviously meant to be. She writes the type of books she loves to read most: fun, steamy love stories with heart, heat, and laughter. Something she likes to call, “Romance…with a sense of humor.”

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Review: The Kiss Quotient, by @HHoangWrites

Title: The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)
Author: Helen Hoang
Rating: 5/5 stars

“A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…” (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book since it came out last year. Now that I’ve read it myself, I can see what other people loved about it. And I can’t wait until the next book comes out in a few months.

I’m glad there are authors like Helen Hoang getting books out to readers. This book had so much in it that I haven’t found in other romances before. More diverse books are starting to hit shelves, but I feel that The Kiss Quotient is set apart from my recent reading list in many ways. In this book Hoang created a heroine with Aspergers trying to navigate the dating world. I loved Stella’s character and getting inside her head a bit in the various situations she’s in throughout the book. I feel that I could easily relate to the thoughts going through her head much of the time.

Michael was also a great character. He’s a Vietnamese-Swedish male escort/clothing designer. That’s a lot right? Michael is a great guy and I couldn’t picture anyone else being good enough to help out Stella in the ways that he did. While I’m sure it’s been done before, the escort/client fake relationship was a new twist on the fake relationship trope for me. Made me more of a sucker for the trope with the way Hoang wrote the book.

The Bride Test is the next book in this series and I’m going to devour it when it’s released. I’m expecting great things from Hoang after reading The Kiss Quotient. (No pressure Helen!)fancy lineresize

You can buy this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since.

In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT.

She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.

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Review: Not So Vanilla, by Morgan Noel

Title: Not So Vanilla
Author: Morgan Noel
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

“Bartholomew’s life is perfect. He’s got a job he loves, he’s in a committed relationship with his loving boyfriend who appreciates his neurotic tendencies, social anxiety, and general awkwardness. It’s not ‘white-picket-fence-and-Golden-Retriever’-perfect, but their nice little apartment in the city and the cat they rescued from the shelter come pretty close. 

The domestic bliss gets disturbed when his boyfriend Kyle brings a very hot friend from high school into their sanctuary, making both of them wonder if perhaps ‘perfect’ is as relative as good sex.” (description from Goodreads)

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A quick read (listen, for me technically). Didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I had thought going into it. I felt a potential for these characters to really go somewhere and develop, but much was left out for me. There’s a great premise having a third guy come to live with a couple and there was conflict there. Mew had a chance to grow both sexually and socially, too. While he technically did by the end, it was a bit too easy of a conclusion and then the story was over. I think working this into a larger story could do all the characters justice and I would be interested in reading that book.

Still, with the potential I feel it had, I’ll be checking out more of Noel’s writing. I may stick to text over audio though. Mew came out as too whiny for being a sole narrator and maybe that shaped his character into an even less enjoyable one than he was created to be.

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You can buy this book from:

AmazonAudible

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About the Author:

Full of snark and bitterness about failed careers, I’ve decided to pursue writing, like a real author

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