Categories
Romance

Re-read A Lot Like Adios

Read A Lot Like Adiós (Primas of Power, #2)

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

Still great on second read! She did an excellent job highlighting their emotions throughout, and how it changed their perspective. I related to their difficulties with their attitudes about work.

The action is maybe a little light, but the character arc and relationship work was so well done I didn’t mind that they didn’t actually do a whole lot. The sex scenes do heavy lifting on relationship building and characterization, are important to the story. The condom buying scene is hilariously cringe.

Appreciate that they are a non-traditional couple in that they don’t want kids, and don’t actually want to get married, but still find a way to be together that works for them.

Also that cover art 😍

Categories
Romance

Re-read The Soulmate Equation

Read The Soulmate Equation

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before her daughter was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get ‘to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Second read.

The heroine’s stubborn insistence on being a dishtowel in all situations except one that might make her happy is verrrry frustrating. Her willingness to subsume herself for her daughter grated — at the beginning she says she’s going to give up on finding a partner till her daughter is eighteen, eleven years in the future 😳 Like why hasn’t anyone talked to her about not making her daughter solely responsible for making her happy, there’s a recipe for some future trauma — she was so scarred by her mother not caring for her that she’s overcompensated to the point she has almost no life besides her kid.

Some of the scenes with the kid dragged, detracting from the romance. I imagine for single moms reading it might better match their experience of fitting a partner into an existing relationship between parent and kid 🤷‍♀️

It’s interesting to see Christina Lauren’s shift as a writer from hot impulsive people in their twenties to middle-aged single mom and business focused dude — a shift I would guess matches their own life path, even if it doesn’t resonate with me.

See also: first read in 2021

Categories
Romance

Re-read About Last Night

Read About Last Night

Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from RITA finalist and bestselling author Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.

Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

At least third read. Forgot how quickly the ending happens — too fast IMO, I thought I’d somehow missed a chapter — and the hero’s redemption not fully earned. I bought the heroine’s standoffishness more than another recent reread, The Soulmate Equation — though some of her self-abuse comes off uncomfortably judgmental and sex negative — probably would be updated if written today. Her ending arc was good but totally implausible.

Categories
Romance

Read Coming in from the Cold

Read Coming in from the Cold (Gravity, #1)

He can’t have her. And he can’t tell anyone why.

Ski racer Dane “Danger” Hollister does not do relationships, though he keeps his reason a secret. The real-life curse he’s inherited from his mother will eventually cost him everything: his place on the Olympic ski team, his endorsement income, and his ability to fly downhill at top speed.

Reluctant country girl Willow Reade meets Dane by accident. Literally. Her skidding truck forces him off the road during a blizzard. Stranded together in his Jeep as night falls, the two loneliest people in Vermont find themselves sharing more than they’d planned. And not just conversation.

Yet neither can guess how their unlikely tryst will threaten Dane’s frightening secret and Willow’s tentative peace with her own choices. Only mutual trust and understanding can end their pain and give them a hard won shot at love.

I’m not convinced that the heroine really grappled with her mental hurdles, since the focus was on his angst. I’m also not convinced he showed he was enough of a catch to keep her affection after being such a douche 🤔

Categories
Romance

Read Bet on Love

Read Bet on Love (Good Bad Idea, #1)

After Rhys wakes up married to his best man, he never e…

Cute, I’d check out the next book. Light fluff that was just right for a day with a headache where I didn’t want to think too hard.

Their realization of their suppressed feelings for each other over the course of the day is done well. The two leads don’t have a ton of character between them, or much of a shared history that we see on page, though we’re told they can’t live without the other. The fiancee is a nightmare. The miscommunication at the end was poorly done and out of character, and left the book on a bad note. There was also a weirdly (consensually) aggro sex scene that seemed a bit much without prior communication, plus choking squicks me out.

Got for free through a stuff your kindle giveaway.

Categories
Romance

Read The Arrangement

Read The Arrangement

Carter Haywood lives for the weekends—specifically the one weekend every month when he escapes real life, with all the pressures of work and caring for his special needs brother, to do whatever he wants, with whomever he wants. Sex is only a release; he’s not looking for love, a relationship or even a second night with the same man, until he walks into a bar and finds someone who makes leaving it all behind impossible. After one incredibly passionate encounter, he breaks his rule and goes back. He needs to see this man again. And again.

Damaged goods. That’s all Reed Kincaide sees and hears when he looks in the mirror. Anxiety and ADHD define his life and he’s learned to keep people at a distance, never letting them get close enough to know who he really is. When Carter proposes a monthly weekend of sex without strings, it’s the ideal arrangement for him. Or so he thinks. Every month, leaving Carter proves to be more and more difficult. It’s not only the intensely hot sex they have in their hotel suite; Reed wonders about the secret life Carter refuses to share.

As months pass and they grow closer Reed finds himself falling for Carter, but he needs more than hurried hugs and farewell kisses. He wants it all. Letting Reed into his carefully constructed family life could upset Carter’s whole world, but it might be the risk he’s finally willing to take, if it means keeping Reed. Once bodies are engaged, the heart is sure to follow, and Carter and Reed discover that holding on to each other is the first step in letting go of the past.

Liked this although I wasn’t sold on the main character Carter — he had a lot of bad behavior to make up for. It was great to see Reed come into his own, to stand up for himself and what he wanted.

Categories
Romance

Read In the Middle of Somewhere

Read In the Middle of Somewhere (Middle of Somewhere, #1)

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

I enjoyed this though it was pretty angsty, with lots of self-doubt on both leads’ parts, and violent histories. Good meet-cute. I liked the best friend Ginger. I read the POV character as much younger than he was, early-twenties rather than the thirties I think he’s supposed to be, he was pretty lacking in self-confidence and whiny (though understandable based on his history). Sex scenes are pretty graphic, and maybe too many? Pretty long but it didn’t drag — though not a ton was happening in the story, mainly emotionally. I didn’t expect the way it ended but it worked.

I’ll skip the next book because I’m not interested in a lead who verbally and physically abused his younger brother (the lead in this book).

I might read the third one, which was set up in this book, though I’m a little iffy on the age difference.

Categories
Romance

Re-read Fast Connection

Read Fast Connection (Cyberlove, #2)

After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic ‘Nicky’ Costigan–the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.

This one was kind of intense. There was a confrontation with the ‘bad guy’ at the end that had a sour note and felt a little cruel.

Note: There was a hullabaloo about co-author Santino Hassell four years ago, in which it’s suspected the community was misled into crowdfunding medical support when they were not actually having medical issues, and potentially were actually a team of writers pretending to be another person, and then had poor behavior during the process of revelation and were dropped by their publisher. I already owned this book but still feel a little weird re-reading it.

Categories
Romance

Read Drive Me Wild

Read Drive Me Wild by an author

When Blair Beaufort literally crashes into Bellamy Creek wearing a ball gown and a tiara, I should have towed her car, said goodnight, and sent her packing.

I’m a mechanic, not a hotel manager. I’ve got enough on my plate trying to keep my shop from going under, my overbearing mother off my back, and my baseball team in contention for the league championship. I don’t have time for a former debutante with zero street smarts and a cash flow problem, even if she is crazy beautiful.

Problem is, she’s stranded in my small town, and I’m hiding a protective streak underneath my grumpy exterior that runs deep. So I offer her a place to stay and keep my hands to myself.

For exactly one night.

If only she weren’t so gorgeous. So funny. So eager to please. She’s a disaster behind the wheel, but she drives me wild without even trying–at work, at home, in the back of my truck . . . I can’t get enough of the way she makes me feel.

But I know better than to think it can last. She wants a fairy tale, and I’m no prince.

So when it comes time for her to leave, there’s nothing I can do but let her go.

No matter how much it hurts to say goodbye.

I think this series is probably more traditional than I’m interested in. Also the hero was a pretty big dick. The author’s note said this was an homage to Schitt’s Creek, which makes sense content-wise but didn’t quite pull off the humor for me.

Categories
Romance

Read The Best Men

Read The Best Men (The Best Men, #1)

In my defense, I was left alone with a bottle of single-malt and a life-long penchant for protecting my baby sister. Still, that’s no excuse to send ten drunk-texts on why her hasty marriage would be a mistake.

If only I had just texted my sister. But nope. I accidentally sent the message to her, her groom, and his super hot wingman.

I also used the phrase “super hot wingman,” so I’d like to die now.

Instead, I have to plan a wedding with the aforementioned hottie and share a too-small guesthouse in steamy Miami.

Three days in the sun with the cocky, charming former athlete who likes to push my buttons? Fine, two can play at that let’s-infuriate-each-other game.

Until Asher ups the stakes with one wildly sexy suggestion. A no-strings fling, then I go back to my single dad life in New York, and he returns to his star-studded one.

Sign me up.

But the more nights I spend with the other best man, the more I want days too, and that just can’t happen. Especially when I find out the real reason why…

Light and fluffy at first with a surprisingly angsty ending. Some funny bits though not a lot really going on. I wasn’t sure what Asher liked about Mark. Asher’s character growth seemed to take a jump at the end. I liked the spreadsheet shtick.