Review: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 4th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

RITA® Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin and The Kiss Quotient.

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers.

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

If you’re a fan of the show Jane the Virgin, you’re gonna want to try You Had Me at Hola! There’s Latinx rep, telenovelas, actor main characters, and a ton of on- and off-screen steam. It was my first book from Alexis Daria and I really liked her writing. I loved the telenovela aspect and that we actually get to read the script (which is a dramatic second chance romance I was super into) and see how the actor characters play it out. While I did have my issues with parts of the book, I still would recommend it if you’re looking for a romance with great Latinx characters who are making their way into Hollywood.

Soap opera actress Jasmine Lin Rodriguez has just landed the lead role on a Latinx romantic comedy show, to be streamed on a Netflix lookalike, so you know it’s a big deal. She’s paired up with a famous telenovela star in his own right, Ashton Suárez. They get off on a bumpy start after he accidentally spills coffee on her during their first meeting, and try as they might to create some chemistry between them while filming, something seems to be missing. So they agree to work on their lines behind the scenes, and that’s when things really heat up.

Jasmine and Ashton’s romance was sweet. I liked the fact that the hero is the one who is awkward and a bit shy when it comes to the romance. Ashton has his reasons for being very wary and closed off from relationships. He doesn’t want to be in the limelight because of a secret he’s keeping that he wants to be kept hidden. Unfortunately, I think Ashton took this a bit too far for too long. I got frustrated with how hot and cold he was with Jasmine and wasn’t a fan of the way he didn’t understand that his pursuit of Hollywood came with the cost of his privacy. He sadly took too long for my taste to realize he had something good with the heroine.

Luckily, Jasmine wasn’t as frustrating for me. I loved her character! I enjoyed her ambition and how much she loved being a lead role on a Latinx rom-com. I adored her relationship with her family and close cousins – the female friendship in this book was lovely and family plays a huge and important part to both Jasmine and Ashton’s lives. And one of my favorite aspects of this book was actually the show, Carmen in Charge! I’ll admit, at times I was more invested in the show’s romance than the off-screen romance. It’s a second chance romance with a ton of angst and I 100% would not mind if it turned into a real book or show. I do wish I could’ve loved You Had Me at Hola more but I would still highly recommend it if you want some fantastic Latinx characters!


lacey


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Review: The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker

The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 16th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

From the international bestselling author of The Simple Wild and Ten Tiny Breaths comes a new second-chance, hate-to-love romance.

Scarlet Reed has returned to Polson Falls, convinced that twelve years away is long enough to shed her humiliating childhood identity as the town harlot’s daughter. With a teaching job secured and an adorable fixer-upper to call home, things in her life are finally looking up.

That is, until she finds out that Shane Beckett lives next door.

Shane Beckett, the handsome and charismatic high school star quarterback who smashed her heart. The lying, cheating player who was supposed to be long gone, living the pro football dream and fooling women into thinking he’s Prince Charming. Shane Beckett, who is as attractive as ever and flashing his dimples at her as if he has done no wrong.

Scarlet makes it abundantly clear that old wounds have not been forgotten. Neighbors they may be, but friends they most certainly are not. She won’t allow herself to fall for the single father and firefighter again, no matter how many apologies he offers, how many times he rushes to her aid, or how hard he makes her heart pound.

But as she spends more time with him, she begins to fear that maybe she’s wrong. Maybe Shane has changed.
And maybe this time she’s the one playing herself—out of a chance at true happiness.

I am such a big fan of K.A. Tucker, so when I heard she’d be releasing a new standalone with summer vibes, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! Also, I’m always a sucker for both second chance romances and single parent romances. I ended up enjoying Shane and Scarlet’s story – it’s both sweet and dramatic, if that makes sense. If you want a summer read with a swoony hero and lots of unresolved tension, give The Player Next Door a try!

Scarlet has returned home after being away for twelve years to be a school teacher. She packed up and never looked back as soon as she could, not wanting to deal with heartbreak and her narcissistic mother any more. But she’s moved into the cute little house she always admired, not knowing that her next door neighbor is none other than the guy who broke her heart and caused her to want to leave: Shane Beckett. Who also happens to be the father of one of her new students.

This romance is a bit of an enemies to lovers one, at least on our heroine Scarlet’s side. She hasn’t forgiven Shane for breaking her heart over a decade ago and isn’t about to make it easy for him to try to get her to give him a second chance. I love a heroine who makes a hero work for her affections, though I do feel Shane could’ve groveled a bit more rather than say it was something that happened so long ago. There’s plenty of chemistry, of push and pull, between Shane and Scarlet to make this romance exciting and fun.

The main reason I’m not rating this higher is that I felt a bit disconnected from our main characters. I liked them, but I never truly connected with their stories. I may have rolled my eyes a bit at some of the miscommunication and it wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I expected. But still, it’s a quick, sweet (which mostly comes from our charming hero and his son) romp with a dash of drama (from our heroine) that will make this a fun summer read!


lacey


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Review: Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen

Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen
Series: Brooklyn #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 12th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, sports agent Bess Beringer is ready to make some changes. Armed with a five-year plan—indexed and color coded—she’ll tackle her personal life with the same zeal that she brings to her successful agency.

A big, tall, ripped hunk of hockey player who’s just been traded to the Brooklyn Bruisers is not a part of that plan. Mark “Tank” Tankiewicz has a lot of baggage. He’s a ride-or-die loner with a bad reputation. He’s on the rebound. He’s also the sexiest thing on two legs, and for some crazy reason it’s Bess that he wants.

She knows better. But then she falls stupid in love with him anyway. And for a while it seems like maybe he’ll do the same.

Until she asks him for the one thing he can never give her…

I always look forward to reading Sarina Bowen, especially when they’re her hockey romances. Sure Shot is the latest in her Brooklynaire series and is a bit of a second chance romance between two characters who used to have a fling years ago. Now they’re back in each others’ lives – her as a sports agent, him as a new team member of the Brooklyn Bruisers. I enjoyed this romance for the most part, but it’s probably one of my least favorites of the series. It’s not that it’s bad, but more like not as memorable as the other books in the series. Still, if you’re a fan of the Brooklyn Bruisers, you won’t want to miss this latest installment featuring this beloved hockey team!

Years ago, Bess and Tank met in NYC during the start of their careers and had the best sex of their lives for the few months they were hooking up together. It never developed into a relationship, though they were exclusive, so that’s why I say it’s a ‘bit’ of a second chance romance. Now, both highly successful people, they reunite when Tank gets traded. But starting anything up again isn’t the best idea when Bess wants a serious relationship with someone who wants to build a family and Tank has just gotten divorced and is on the rebound.

Bess and Tank were great characters and I loved seeing Tank’s sweet side when it comes to Bess. He is quite the grump to everyone else. I didn’t necessarily LOVE their characters, but I still enjoyed their romance and the way it played out. Even though this book can be read as a standalone, a lot of characters from previous books do show up. Bess is the sister of the hero in Bountiful, part of the True North series. We see nearly everyone in the Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bruisers series. They all truly become a family even though they come from different Sarina Bowen series, and it makes me so happy to see all the characters I loved reading together. Even though this isn’t a new favorite Sarina Bowen for me, I still love all the hockey romances and this one hit the spot for me.


lacey


Reading Order: Brooklyn series

 

#1 ~ Brooklynaire: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Overnight Sensation: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Superfan: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Sure Shot: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads


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Review: He’s a Brute by Chloe Liese

He’s a Brute by Chloe Liese
Series: Tough Love #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 6th 2019
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

One dark and handsome control-freak sports star meets one smarty pants bioengineer with hair to match her fiery temper. It’s an experiment straight out of sexual thermodynamics.

Every good scientist knows the second law of thermodynamics: the universe’s disorder, entropy, is always increasing. Professionally and personally speaking, Nairne’s familiar with the principle. After a streak of costly fame, now she’s set on saving the world, microscope in hand, and there’s no time for romance. Problem is, when a rude, despicably sexy Adonis shows up to run their board meeting, chemistry and its ensuing chaos become more than a formula—now they’re a burning hot reality.

Mafia prince. Professional footballer. Bad boy demeanor and a reputation for being as talented between the sheets as he is on the pitch. Rumors are the man’s an absolute brute. And he turns out to be just as demanding, controlling and vicious in person as he is on paper. The Law of Attraction’s proven true, as Nairne finds herself accepting Zed’s proposal: rough, wild stress release, more orgasms than she can count, and most importantly—no falling in love.

Agreement in place. End date secured.

No attachments. No forever.

What could possibly go wrong?

Book One in the Tough Love Series—an enemies to lovers, suspenseful romance, full of sexy Italians, bedroom negotiations, feisty heroines, and an ending that’ll both satisfy you and leave you ready for more!

I’ve been making it a goal to read more debut authors in 2019, and I’m so happy that I can include Chloe Liese to my list! I wanted to read this book because 1) I LOVED the cover and 2) the blurb sounded so intriguing. Mafia, sports, AND science? I was definitely game. I ended up really enjoying Nairne and Zed’s story – if you’re looking for something a little different in your contemporary romances, you should give this a try!

Former professional soccer player and current bioengineer Nairne MacGregor is set on saving the world with science. She’s in the US for school and work, but in a few months, she’ll be back home to Europe. Which means she has no time to meet anyone, much less fall in love. But all that changes when she meets the boss at her new job. Zed Salvatore is confident, assertive, and has too much swagger for his own good. He’s an alpha through and through, and he’s never met anyone who can hold their own against him… until Nairne.

I don’t want to break her. I want to possess her.

There’s a serious chemical attraction between Zed and Nairne from the moment they meet at a board meeting. Zed wants to explore what they have while Nairne is more reluctant. But once they do start exploring, boy do they set things on fire. I’d almost say He’s a Brute is lite-erotica – they begin a Dominant/submissive relationship in bed (which stays in bed), and while it’s nothing like Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinner series, it’s HOT and a little kinky. Zed has a filthy mouth on him that I couldn’t get enough of!

The one thing that detracted me from fully loving this book was that there seemed to be too much going on to fully devote enough time to each aspect. Zed is part of the mafia in Boston, with a leader role, but he doesn’t do much on the pages relating to the mafia. It was definitely overshadowed by the sports aspect of the story, though I did love all the soccer talk. I also loved the little twist towards the beginning of the book that changes the dynamics of the characters and how I perceived them. Other than that, the writing is fantastic, especially for a debut – I can’t want to read more from Chloe Liese and more about Nairne and Zed.


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Tough Love series

#1 ~ He’s a Brute: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ She’s a Spitfire: EbookGoodreads (June 24, 2019)


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Review: Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 18th 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s after discovering her Maiden Lane series. Not every book was a hit, but there were enough that it felt bittersweet when the series came to an end. When she announced she’d be releasing a new series though, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Not the Duke’s Darling is the first in the Greycourt series, setting the stage for a new cast of characters. While I enjoyed the characters, I had a hard time connecting with the story and couldn’t fully love it as much as I hoped to.

The foundation of Freya and Christopher’s story starts fifteen years earlier, after a tragic event that tears apart friends and families. Christopher and his best friend, Freya’s brother Ran, become estranged for the next decade and a half, leaving him on one side and the de Morays on the other. Fast forward to the present, and Christopher is back from India to run his dukedom and Freya is a Wise Woman disguised as a chaperone. As a member of the secret order of Wise Women, Freya is not your typical woman. She’s fierce, with an intelligent mind and exceptional fighting skills. When they meet again for the first time in years, Christopher doesn’t recognize her, but Freya vows revenge on the man who wronged her brother.

Christopher and Freya have an explosive relationship. Their chemistry is off the charts, and not just because she wants revenge on him. Even though Christopher doesn’t recognize Freya at first, that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Her wit and sharp tongue leave him desperate to be around her. There was a bit of a reversal in roles with these two, with the hero being all in with the heroine, and the heroine being more on the reluctant side, which I enjoyed. Freya’s prickliness gave her character depth, and I couldn’t help but be entertained as Christopher tore down her walls.

“Don’t change. Don’t ever change. I like your prickliness, your scowls, the way you argue with me so fiercely. I want a lioness, not a lamb.”

What didn’t work so well with me were the various subplots that the author tried to tie all together. It felt messy, trying to juggle the Wise Women order, Freya’s mission to save a duchess, Christopher’s late wife, his time in India, someone targeting Freya, the tragedy that happened years ago between three best friends, and even the POV of the next book’s heroine, whose story is being set up in this book. When there is so much going on, it’s hard to make everything as fully fleshed out as possible, which is mainly what made me hold back from enjoying the story.

Not the Duke’s Darling has its issues, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to continue with the series. I’m intrigued enough with the hero and heroine of the next book to want to pick it up, and hopefully it balances plotlines better.


lacey


Reading Order: Greycourt series

 

#1 ~ Not the Duke’s Darling: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ When a Rogue Meets His Match: PaperbackGoodreads (July 30, 2019)


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