The Charmed List by. Julie Abe | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Charmed List

Author: Julie Abe

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 304

Publication Date: 7/5/22

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Reader, Romance, Contemporary, Magical Realism

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia.

But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.

In The Charmed List, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars. 

Content Warning:

This one is a cute read with some fun elements to it: magic, enemies to lovers romance, a bucket list, and a road trip.

The magic element to the story is just kind of thrown in. Ellie and her family are part of the magic community, and Jack her ex-friend/enemy and his dad are part of it too, her best friend Lia – is not. There are some rules about being part of the magic community and we do see some mild magic being done. Ellie has a bucket list for the summer and I think it was nice for her to go through with it to help her get out of her shy-girl shell. Also there is the romance between Ellie and Jack, they used to be friends, until Jack closed himself off to her, with his dad’s encouragement. But on the road trip they are forced to spend time together which means they start liking one another.

The story reads more for teenagers so I didn’t quite connect to the story or characters, I’m not the audience for this one. But I think someone who wants a light hearted teen romance that has magic would really enjoy this book.

Why you should read it:

  • magic, romance, a bucket list and a road trip
  • sweet, coming of age story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • this is more for teen readers

My Thoughts:

I’m not the target audience for this book but I thought it was a sweet story about a girl who is trying to break out of her shell. Some parts were a bit dramatic for me, like when Ellie’s best friend finds out about magic but like I said – I wasn’t connecting to the book or characters. I think if you want a light-hearted romance filled with magic, and some angst you will enjoy this one.

📚 ~ Yolanda

The Guncle by. Steven Rowley | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Guncle

Author: Steven Rowley

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 326

Publication Date: 5/25/21

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Family, Grief, LGBTQ+

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.

Content Warning: grief, death of a loved one, addiction, anxiety, story of sexual assault

I had my eye on this book since last year and finally got it from my library. I’m glad I did because I felt like it would be a great summer read and it’s Pride month so why not read about a guncle (gay uncle). This book hit me in the feels!

+ Yes Patrick, GUP, Guncle is a bit self-centered and snarky. He is a golden globe winning actor and was a star for a time. He loves to talk about when he was super famous, he loves all things television, movies, broadway, and theatre. But things happened in his life and he’s now in his 40’s and living a quiet life in Palm Springs until he is forced to be out again because his family needs him. His best friend and sister-in-law has passed on, his brother needs to go to rehab and leaves his kids with Patrick. I love how taking care of his niece and nephew scared him but he stepped up in the best way possible. It warmed my heart so much.

+ This book is about relationships and grief. It gave us a peek at how relationships we have with our siblings, the ones or we have with our parents can be messy. Messy and yet it can still be loving. Patrick is relatable in that way. I could also relate to his fear of wanting to love people because he is still stuck in his grief losing his partner, Joe. There is a lot of loss Patrick is dealing with and I felt like his fears were my own. I could totally relate.

+ Patrick’s experiences growing up gay, trying to explain to his sister how he had to protect his inner, real self in the outside world by pretending was such an important point. I love that he could tell his side of this story especially when he was trying to explain it to his sister Clara who in turn felt like she had to struggle also being a woman. Everyone around Patrick had their own trauma and I like that the story was honest and truthful about these struggles.

+ I love the humor – when Patrick is on, he is ON and the children have no clue what he is saying have the time. I can already imagine this book as a tv series, it has that sitcom kind of feel but with some tough issues. I was laughing one moment and then heartbroken the next when the kids talked about missing their mother or Patrick was missing Joe. 😭

Why you should read it:

  • Patrick is a force – he’s funny, snarky, self-centered but loves his family even though they have problems – no matter, he is there for them the best way he can be.
  • Patrick with his niece and nephew have such adventures in Palm Springs
  • This story is full of grief and yet full of hope, the will to survive a broken heart, the beauty of life that come with tragedy. The medicine of laughter and love, family and friends.

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into Patrick talking about himself all the time lol…I can picture him talking fast, like how some people just do

My Thoughts:

This one hit my heart with so many feels! The story dealt with so many issues about grief, fear and anxiety – letting go and moving on. It hurt. But I was also laughing when Patrick was trying to take care of two kids for the first time in his life, and he did it without much help – he’s even too afraid to drive! Thank goodness for ride-share! I love that the kids taught him things like youtube lol. But seeing those two kids melt through his guarded heart was a glorious thing. I love that we get Patrick’s point of view as a gay man trying to raise two kids on his own, trying to deal with his grief and figuring out what will be act two in his life after his tv stardom has ended. His journey was rocky but like he said in the end, he survived it…the show must go on. I love Patrick and his family and was rooting for all of them to help each other get through grief, addiction, divorce, resentment and anything else that was holding them back from bonding. This is a beautiful story and I’m glad I finally read it!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes From the Book:

We’re hyper-connected, but at the same time desperately lonely.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

What do you think gay people do? Have done for generations? We adopt a safe version of ourselves for the public, for protection, and then as adults we excavate our true selves from the parts we’ve invented to protect us. It’s the most important work of our queer lives.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

I am less of me. I left part of myself with you. I don’t know what it was, but I felt it leave my body the last time I held your hand.|

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

The sky is not going to fall. That’s what I’m telling you. The pain you feel, the disaster you think is imminent. Those feelings fade. And some day you even miss it. Some days you miss the pain, because you’re afraid. Afraid that as the pain softens so do memories of the one you lost.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

Things We Never Got Over by. Lucy Score | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Things We Never Got Over (Knockemout, #1)

Author: Lucy Score

Format: ebooks (KU)

Pages: 570

Publication Date: 1/13/22

Categories: Romance, Adult Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.

Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.

Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.

There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.

At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.

Content Warning: abuse, single parent, parental abandonment

I decided to read my first Lucy Score book because I kept seeing it on Kindle Unlimited and I can see why it’s very popular. Here’s what I like and didn’t like:

+ So many tropes are in this story – grumpy guy/sunshine girl, small town romance, fake dating and then some. I thought Naomi and Knox had good chemistry, and they had lots of hot times in and out of bed 🔥

+ I did like Naomi’s story about coming to help her twin and ended up taking care of her 11 year old niece, Waylay. Naomi makes the best of things and tries her best to be the best guardian to her niece.

+ I love all the characters from Naomi’s best friend, the new people she meets, and her parents. And on the other end, Knox’s family and friends were fun to get to know also! I’m looking forward to reading Lucian and Sloane’s story.

+ I like the messages about messy relationships and how to let go of fears. Knox fears relationships and Naomi can’t survive without her lists. Naomi was used to taking care of everyone and never putting herself first.

~ My biggest issue about this story is the length of it. It’s way too long! And I was enjoying it so much and thought okay it’s ending soon and we get the happy ending and yet it kept going on. I almost didn’t want to pick it up the next day because I pretty much knew what would happen. I did read it to find out what happens to Tina though. But this would have been perfect if it ended before 400 pages.

~ Did the fake dating have to happen in the middle of the story? I thought it was funny when Naomi’s parents found them but that was halfway into the story – I don’t think it was needed at all. It’s like Knox and Naomi didn’t have enough challenges to deal with in their relationship already. And Knox breaking up with her like that? Like no dude. Get outta here.

Why you should read it:

  • if you love romance tropes you will love this one – it’s filled with it
  • Love the characters
  • A fun, sexy and sweet at times love story between Naomi and Knox
  • Some emotional moments

Why you might not want to read it:

  • This was way too long and that was my biggest issue. I almost didn’t finish the book even though I was enjoying it.

My Thoughts:

This seems like a light read at first between a very grumpy dude and miss sunshine but it gets more complicated because of Tina. But the situation teaches Naomi how take care for her 11 year old niece and herself. She has to basically start from scratch in a new town. I love that she has a wonderful support group in her parents and her bestie Stef. I loved all the characters I met in the book. The romance is cute – even though Knox is a bit of an alpha male, it’s hot at times between them and a bit bumpy in the end but things work out as they should. My biggest issue and it was a big issue – was the length of this book. I almost didn’t finish it even though I considered it a funny, cute, romance story and it was emotional too…but there was a point I was like, do I have to keep reading? I am eager to read Lucian and Sloane’s story – I just hope it’s shorter.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes From the Book

You get to decide how you show up in this world. No one else gets to dictate to you who you are…”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

Because sometimes people don’t know how to ask for what they really need. You needed a hug.”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

You know what they say about fine. Fucked up. Insecure. Neurotic. And emotional…”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

So is setting an example for your niece about how she doesn’t need to turn herself inside out to be loved. How she doesn’t need to set herself on fire to keep someone else warm. Demanding to have your own needs met isn’t problematic—it’s heroic, and kids are watching. They’re always watching. If you set an example that tells her the only way she’s worthy of love is by giving everyone everything, she’ll internalize that message.”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

There’s a difference between taking care of someone because you love them and taking care of someone because you want them to love you…”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

One Night on the Island by. Josie Silver | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️💫

Title: One Night on the Island

Author: Josie Silver

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 2/15/22

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Spending her thirtieth birthday alone is the last thing that dating columnist Cleo wanted, but she is going on a self-coupling quasi-sabbatical–at the insistence of her boss–in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she’s booked is a far cry from London, but at least it’s a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some quiet, solitary self-care while she figures out her next steps in her love life and her career.

Mack is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, his soul searching has brought him to the same Irish island in search of his roots and some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both solitude seekers have reserved the same one-bedroom hideaway on exactly the same dates.

Instantly at odds with each other, Cleo and Mack don’t know how they’re going to manage until the next weekly ferry arrives. But as the days go by, they no longer seem to mind each other’s company quite as much as they thought they would…

Written with Josie Silver’s signature warmth, charm and insights into the human heart, One Night on the Island explores the meaning of home, the joys of escape and how the things we think we want are never the things we really need.

Content Warning: broken marriage

I thought this was going to be a good one but unfortunately this turned out not for me. But let’s see what I liked and didn’t like:

+ Cleo was an interesting character from the beginning and I wanted to see how her vacation to Salvation Island would help her grow. She’s dreading turning 30, she has a successful career but she’s single and she still dreams about being a published author. I thought she was a nice young woman and seeing her get to know the other women on the island gave this story some fun moments.

+ Mack and Cleo meeting and getting to know each other went at a slow pace but maybe that was okay because he was still married when he met Cleo.

+ The setting of Salvation Island was wonderfully written. You get a real sense of life there, it’s the perfect small town feel.

~ Mack is married – yes he has trouble in his marriage but he still wants to be with his wife so that turned me off a bit, especially when Cleo admits she wants him.

~ The story started off good but it’s slow and I was getting bored. In my head, Mack was off-limits so what was happening between these two? It was going to be messy.

~ I felt the chemistry between Mack and Cleo was lacking. Yes they don’t like one another at first, but they eventually get friendly and talk a lot about their lives. There is a lot of talking.

Why you should read it:

  • you like women’s fiction where the characters are going through some emotional things
  • slow burn romance
  • beautiful setting

Why you might not want to read it:

  • more women’s fiction than romance
  • Mack is a married man and that may not appeal to some readers – his marriage is rocky but he is not divorced yet

My Thoughts:

I did love the setting of Salvation Island in Ireland, that was probably my favorite part of the book.. It’s a slow burn romance, with lots of emotional turmoil on Mack’s part and Cleo is trying to figure out her life as she hits 30 years old. The story was a little too slow for me. I think if you love women’s fiction, you might enjoy this story but I was thinking it was going to be some rom-com and it wasn’t.

📚 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR} Here for the Drama by. Kate Bromley | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for Here for the Drama by. Kate Bromley!

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Here for the Drama

Author: Kate Bromley

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 6/21/22

BUY HERE: | Harlequin | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Playwright, Theater, Rom-Com, Women’s Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Graydon House Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

This summer, it’s much ado about everything.

Becoming a famous playwright is all Winnie ever dreamed about. For now, though, she’ll have to settle for assisting the celebrated, sharp-witted feminist playwright Juliette Brassard. When an experimental theater company in London, England decides to stage Juliette’s most renowned play, The Lights of Trafalgar, Winnie and Juliette pack their bags and hop across the pond.

But the trip goes sideways faster than you can say “tea and crumpets”. Juliette stubbornly vetoes the director’s every choice, and Winnie’s left stage-managing their relationship. Winnie’s own work seems to have stalled, and though Juliette keeps promising to read it, she always has some vague reason why she can’t. Then, Juliette’s nephew Liam enters stage left. He’s handsome, he’s smart, he is devastatingly British, and he and Winnie have sizzling chemistry. But as her boss’s nephew, Liam is definitely off-limits, so Winnie has to keep their burgeoning relationship on the down-low from Juliette. What could go wrong?

Balancing a production seemingly headed for disaster, a secret romance, and the sweetest, most rambunctious rescue dog, will Winnie save the play, make her own dreams come true, and find true love along the way–or will the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune get the best of her?

Content Warning: death of parent, divorce

I found this to be a sweet romance with a likable main character who is clearly in love with theater and working on the play that hopefully will make her a famous playwright. For now she is an assistant to Juliette Bassard who is what Winnie aspires to be. They have a best friend type of relationship, which I found endearing. Juliette, Winnie and Roshni the second assistant all take a trip to London for a staging of Juliette’s most famous play and a lot of things happen while they are there.

I’m more of a musical than play kind of person, but I found the playwriting and staging process in this book quite fascinating. You can feel the passion in Winnie and Juliette as one is beginning her career as a playwright and then other is coming into a time of transition. Of course there is a dog is in this story, just makes the story even sweeter, because Ollie is a sweet prince! The romance is sweet as well, there is some heat between Winnie and Liam but for the most part, it’s a relationship between two mature people who may have met each other at the wrong time – at least the wrong time to start a relationship and for them…it works out because they are mature to let one another go.

Of course this can’t be a story about drama and theater without drama. Juliette has a whole past in London and it comes back to haunt her. Winnie has her own things to deal with like finishing her play, figuring out her life after London and what to do about Liam. Juliette and Winnie also confront things about their relationship but in the end it all works out beautifully. I thought the epilogue did a great job to give us a very happy ending.

There were some parts that I found slow and I felt like Juliette and Winnie’s relationship was the main focus of this story as opposed to the romance growing between Winnie and Liam. It is very much a story about Winnie’s life journey.

Why you should read it:

  • you love drama, theater, plays – I found Winnie’s passion for playwriting really come through in her character
  • it’s a story about friendship, romance and life’s journey
  • it has a cute dog named Ollie

Why you might not want to read it:

  • this is more women’s fiction than romance, so if you expect full on romance, this is not it

My Thoughts:

I was pleasantly surprised with this story but I did wish there was more romance between Winnie and Liam. Winnie is a woman in her late 20’s trying to figure out her career, trying to not give up on her passion and having some romance in the process – I found her sweet and relatable. I would categorize this as more women’s fiction than romance though, but regardless I thought it was an enjoyable read and it has a great happy ending.

📚 ~ Yolanda


KATE BROMLEY lives in New York City with her husband, son, and her somewhat excessive collection of romance novels (It’s not hoarding if it’s books, right?). She was a preschool teacher for seven years and is now focusing full-time on combining her two great passions – writing swoon-worthy love stories and making people laugh. She is also the author of Talk Bookish to Me.

Author Website

Twitter: @kbromleywrites | Instagram: @katebromleywrites | Facebook: @katebromleywrites | Goodreads

It Happened One Summer by. Tessa Bailey | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: It Happened One Summer (Bellinger Sisters, #1)

Author: Tessa Bailey

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 397

Publication Date: 7/13/21

Publisher: Avon

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction, Opposites Attract

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

Content Warning: death of spouse

Lately I’ve been thinking what qualities make for a good summer-pool-beach read – then I read this book and THIS would be an ultimate summer read!

Piper is rich and an instagram influencer – she is superficial, a social media queen, comes off as an airhead but despite all of that, she’s really a sweet person. Her best qualities? She can adapt to new situations, no matter how out of her comfort zone she is, she’s fun and she loves her younger sister, Hannah, to pieces. I absolutely love Piper and Hannah together – they have a tight sisterly bond and a very loving and supporting one at that.

Brendan is Piper’s opposite – he’s grumpy, loves routine, he is a fisherman, good at his job and he’s a widower. When Piper comes into his life, he doesn’t know what hit him. Piper and Brendan are hot, hot, hot together! Their sex scenes are steamy and spicy but their growing relationship is so sweet. I thought they were perfect for one another. Brendan gave her comfort, and security and likes her for who she is. Piper makes him laugh and he falls for her so hard and fast. But like I said, they really complimented one another – I love their opposites attract love affair and how it grows into so much more.

Brendan’s crew are too funny! I love when they were together and joking with Brendan. I love how Fox is soft on Hannah too – I thought that was cute and can’t wait to read their story!

Overall I loved the story about a rich girl who has to atone for her mistakes by going to a small fishing town where her birth dad is a legend. Piper is such a softie and I like that she was herself, even if she was high-maintenance. She really is a sunshine girl and Brendan is mister grumpy who can’t help himself around her.

Why you should read it:

  • romance feels – steamy and sweet, Piper is sunshine, Brendan is grumpy
  • Piper and Hannah’s sister relationship is beautiful, I love the two of them
  • great book for summer reading, lots of humor and makes you feeling happy

Why you might not want to read it:

  • too much steaminess? I thought it made the story better because these two were so hot for each other lol

My Thoughts:

I loved this book and read it in one sitting. I found Piper sweetness and Brendan’s gruffness perfect – the steamy scenes between them added to their amazing relationship – because miss Piper was not sweet in bed! I loved reading about them falling for one another and seeing Piper try to figure out what kind of life is right for her. Also the humor is great! But mostly I loved all the heart warming feelings I got from Piper and Hannah’s relationship. The romance is great and all, but the family bond between them really made me want to hug those girls. This is a wonderful book, great for summertime reading or if you want a romance story with a little bit of everything in it. I look forward to reading Hannah’s story!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes From the Book:

Had she ever dated a real man before? Or had they all been boys?”

– Tessa Bailey, It Happened One Summer

This girl. He’d be keeping her. There was no way around it.”

– Tessa Bailey, It Happened One Summer

Fake It Till You Bake It by. Jamie Wesley | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Fake It Till You Bake It

Author: Jamie Wesley

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 6/21/22

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Categories: Romance, Contemporary, Adult Fiction, Food Romance, Opposites Attract

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell. 

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient. 

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side. 

Content Warning: cyber-bullying

I thought this was a cute foodie romance involving cupcakes. Of course it was the cover that drew me to the story and it perfectly suits the story.

Donovan is a football player with a sweet tooth! He is the owner of a cupcake bakery. I could just imagine a big man with this delicate, frosted cupcakes and I’d smile. The moment he meets Jada, they get off on the wrong foot but once they start spending more time together we see that Jada isn’t the snobbish girl he first met. She’s very sweet and personable actually, compared to Donovans sometimes gruff and stern personality.

The building romance between Donovan and Jada is pretty steady. The do notice one another, then get into a fake-dating situation until they decide to give in to the undeniable attraction between them. There was good banter between them, and they did make a good couple. I did wish there was more chemistry between them because at times it felt a bit forced. I wanted more of a build up since they did come off irritated with one another at first meeting and hinted at an enemies to lover romance. But I’d say this is a more light-hearted romance than anything too intense.

Why you should read it:

  • quick, light-hearted romance
  • diverse cast of characters
  • a football player who sells cupcakes

Why you might not want to read it:

  • chemistry felt forced at times

My Thoughts:

I thought this was enjoyable but sometimes the chemistry between Don and Jada felt forced. I did like the characters though! If you want a light-hearted romance that has football, cupcakes, dating show and fake dating, then this is the book for you!

📚 ~ Yolanda

The Agathas by. Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Agathas

Author: Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: 5/3/22

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Categories: Mystery, Contemporary, Young Adult

Last summer, Alice Ogilve’s basketball-star boyfriend Steve dumped her. Then she disappeared for five days. Where she went and what happened to her is the biggest mystery in Castle Cove, because she’s not talking. Or it was, at least. But now, another one of Steve’s girlfriends has vanished: Brooke Donovan, Alice’s ex–best friend. And it doesn’t look like Brooke will be coming back. . .

Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. Iris has her own reasons for wanting to disappear, though unlike Alice, she doesn’t have the money or the means. That could be changed by the hefty reward Brooke’s grandmother is offering to anyone who can share information about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. The police are convinced Steve is the culprit, but Alice isn’t so sure, and with Iris on her side, she just might be able to prove her theory.

In order to get the reward and prove Steve’s innocence, they need to figure out who killed Brooke Donovan. And luckily Alice has exactly what they need—the complete works of Agatha Christie. If there’s anyone that can teach the girls how to solve a mystery it’s the master herself. But the town of Castle Cove holds many secrets, and Alice and Iris have no idea how much danger they’re about to walk into.

Content Warning: death, domestic violence

This one is for the mystery lovers!

Brooke is missing and the last people to see her are Alice, her ex-best friend, and Iris, a girl from school who saw Brooke fighting with her boyfriend. Iris and Alice team up accidentally since Iris is tutoring Alice but eventually they made a good investigating team.

Other people join Iris and Alice on their investigation and I think it kept the story moving and fun. Did I kind of guess who did it – yes, I did but it was still fun to keep reading to find the truth. I can’t say I read many Agatha Christie novels but I thought it was cute how Alice was obsessed about her novels.

As for the characters, I think the story kept characters at very surface level and that isn’t a bad thing. We get to know Iris and Alice and their backgrounds. They made a good team. I don’t think there were many big twists in this story, maybe one big one but for the most part it was cut and dry. They do solve the case in the end but I feel like the ending really leaves it open for a sequel so we shall see what happens!

Why you should read it:

  • you like mysteries
  • it’s a fun read as we follow Iris, Alice and friends on their investigation into Brooke’s disappearance
  • Agatha Christie fan

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into mystery – mysteries can read a little slow but I thought this was not too bad with the pacing

My Thoughts:

This was fun and kind of reminded me of Scooby-Doo (I grew up in the 80’s okay? lol), but it has the that whole team of friends on the case of a murderer. It wasn’t hard to figure out who the killer is but I still liked the investigation and chase of it all. It’s a quick, easy read and you will definitely like this if you love young adult mysteries.

📚 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR} A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by. Natalie Caña | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by. Natalie Caña!

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: A Proposal They Can’t Refuse

Author: Natalie Caña

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 5/24/22

BUY HERE: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Publisher: MIRA

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Fake Dating, Childhood Best Friends to Enemies to Lovers, Rom-Com

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to MIRA for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” but make it Latinx when a Puerto Rican chef and an Irish American whiskey distiller are blackmailed into a fake relationship by their scheming octogenarian grandfathers.

Ain’t nobody got time for octogenarian blackmail, especially Kamilah Vega. Convincing her parents to update the family’s Puerto Rican restaurant and enter it into The Fall Foodie Tour is quite enough on her plate, muchas gracias. And with the gentrification of their Chicago neighborhood, the tour looks like the only way to save the place. Too bad her abuelo made himself very clear; if she wants to change anything in his restaurant, she must marry the one man she can’t stand: his best friend’s grandson.

Liam Kane spent a decade working his ass off to turn his family’s distillery into a contender. Now he and his grandfather are on the verge of winning a national competition. Then Granda hits him with a one-two punch: he has cancer and has his heart set on seeing Liam married before it’s too late. And his Granda knows just the girl… yup, you guessed it, Kamilah Vega.

If they refuse, their grandfathers will sell the building that houses their businesses, ruining all their well-laid plans. With their legacies and futures on the line, Kamilah and Liam plan to outfox the devious duo, faking an engagement until they both get what they want. But the more time they spend together, the more they realize how much there is to love. Soon, they find themselves tangled up in more than either of them bargained for.

Content Warning: Death, Illness

Kamilah and Liam were childhood best friends when a traumatic incident happened in Liam’s life and he started pushing her away. As adults they can’t stand to be around one another but everyone around them, especially their grandfathers, thinks they belong together. The scheming grandpas come up with a proposal – Kamilah and Liam have to get married or both grandpas will sell their family businesses, leaving the two with nothing. Kind of cutthroat of the grandpas if you ask me!

Kamilah is miss sunshine to Liam’s dark cloud. He’s the handsome, broody, anti-social grumpy one. Together the sparks fly and I couldn’t help root for them to have a happily ever after. Now there are other things going on in their lives. Kamilah is trying to figure out her life. She works hard at her family’s restaurant, a restaurant it seems her parents resent, but she wants to keep in the family. In fact she tries to save the restaurant all on her own and I thought it showed her love for her family but as the story continues we get to understand all the feelings the family has about the restaurant. As for Liam, he has PTSD from an incident that made him lose his father and Nana, and just trying to move on from that has been difficult. He pushes people away so he doesn’t have to feel that hurt again. Clearly these two have issues to work on and I love that the happily ever after included therapy and waiting to be better for the other person!

There were a few side characters I enjoyed a lot in this book. Kamilah’s brothers, Leo and Saint, who I hope get books of their own – Leo needs someone to take him down a peg or two haha. Kamilah’s best friend and cousins and Liam and his friends were fun. I loved that this whole cast felt like family, friends and a community. I love the puerto rican food that was mentioned and the whiskey distillery even though I don’t drink whiskey. It was lovely when they started being fused together. I also loved learning Irish American culture as well.

Honestly, I felt bad for Kamilah. Her family gave her such a hard time for her ideas. She did love her family, but they accused her of only loving herself. I just think they didn’t know how to communicate with one another. I thought it wasn’t fair that she got everyone’s anger, even if she was manipulated by her own grandpa. I know it’s supposed to be a funny story but there were some heavy moments and uncomfortable feelings when I was reading it. Like why are they pressuring her to get married and have kids? (Okay this definitely triggered me haha, I could relate big time.) I know some families believe in tough love (another trigger) but did she really deserve all of them abandoning her? It’s why I loved her brother Saint, he stayed by her side – I hope he gets a good love story.

Other than that, I thought Kamilah and Liam were cute together because they had their history. They get a happy ending, but also acknowledged they need to work on some things before saying “I Do.” I liked that.

Why you should read it:

  • childhood friends to enemies to lovers, fake engagement
  • the sense of community and family closeness, fun story
  • there is food and Puerto Rican culture, and Irish American culture reps

Why you might not want to read it:

  • maybe some triggering family moments

My Thoughts:

This lively story has a melting of cultures: Puerto Rican and Irish American. There is an abundance of family, friends, food and good times. But there are also some tough moments in this story especially when it comes to Liam’s past and the way with Kamilah tries to deal with her personal problems . The love story was cute though. Kamilah is the sunshine and Liam is the grumpy guy and I was rooting for their happy ending. I look forward to reading more from this author.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Natalie Caña writes contemporary romances that allow her to incorporate her witty sense of humor and her love for her culture (Puertominican whoop whoop!) for heroines and heroes like her. A PROPOSAL THEY CAN’T REFUSE is her debut novel.

Author website: 

Twitter: @NatCanaWrites

Tik Tok: @nataliecwrites

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by. Rachel Lynn Solomon | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This

Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 6/8/21

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Family, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Mental Health

A wedding harpist disillusioned with love and a hopeless romantic cater-waiter flirt and fight their way through a summer of weddings.

Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour’s families have been in business together for years: Quinn’s parents are wedding planners, and Tarek’s own a catering company. At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on him in the form of a rambling email—and then he left for college without a response.

Quinn has been dreading seeing him again almost as much as she dreads another summer playing the harp for her parents’ weddings. When he shows up at the first wedding of the summer, looking cuter than ever after a year apart, they clash immediately. Tarek’s always loved the grand gestures in weddings—the flashier, the better—while Quinn can’t see them as anything but fake. Even as they can’t seem to have one civil conversation, Quinn’s thrown together with Tarek wedding after wedding, from performing a daring cake rescue to filling in for a missing bridesmaid and groomsman.

Quinn can’t deny her feelings for him are still there, especially after she learns the truth about his silence, opens up about her own fears, and begins learning the art of harp-making from an enigmatic teacher.

Maybe love isn’t the enemy after all—and maybe allowing herself to fall is the most honest thing Quinn’s ever done.

Content Warning: depression

Quinn works for the family wedding business but deep down inside she wants out and to do something else, she just doesn’t know what. On top of that the boy she had a crush on, Tarek is back from his first year in college. They haven’t spoken in a year and Quinn feels conflicted about that. Also Quinn has many feelings about love – she doesn’t believe in romantic gestures, she thinks everyone is performing in a relationship and she doesn’t ever want to be hurt by love.

This is definitely Quinn’s journey in finding out her passion outside of weddings and trying to figure out relationships. The romance is rocky – she and Tarek have history but a big gap of not communicating. We find out Tarek’s reasons for ghosting on her but even though Quinn pines about Tarek she keeps him at arms length, except for the physical parts of the relationship. That was a bit frustrating and I felt for Tarek – he was trying pretty hard to get through to her. So it isn’t the kind of romance that makes me swoon, it’s messy, but definitely reflects two young people trying to figure it out. There is lots of chemistry between them physically though.

There was a lot of mental health representation because Quinn has OCD and Tarek has clinical depression. So I like when they talk about their experiences.

Why you should read it:

  • representation for OCD and clinical depression
  • coming of age story, main character is trying to find her passion, navigating life after high school
  • issues about relationships – what is love, what is real, what is worth fighting for

Why you might not want to read it:

  • Quinn and Tarek have lots of physical chemistry but outside of that Quinn was closed off to relationships so I was a bit frustrated with her
  • needed more muslim rep on Tarek’s side I think – we didn’t learn much about him outside of him cooking

My Thoughts:

I understand Quinn not loving big grand gestures because she thinks it’s all performative (I can relate at my age and 2 marriages) but for someone who is just young, I was bummed she shot Tarek down every time he wanted to show her how he felt. I get she comes from a place of hurt but poor Tarek haha. I didn’t think they made a good match. But I did like other things about the story like Quinn having OCD and issues about her relationships stemming from her parents own problems. Also, Tarek’s story about clinical depression was important as well. I thought this was an okay read.

📚 ~ Yolanda