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: One Hot Italian Summer by Karina Halle

One Hot Italian Summer by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: July 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

An author finds inspiration in Tuscany in the form of a hot Italian single dad…
This summer is going to be a scorcher.

A writer who’s blocked–I’m a total cliche.

Lucky for me, my agent has a cure that’s an even bigger stereotype–a month at her villa in Tuscany, with nothing to do but find my muse.

When he walks right in the front door, adorable son in tow, it feels like fate has finally done for me what it does for every other cliche’d girl I’ve seen in the movies. Except that he’s completely off-limits. In this case, business and pleasure can never mix.

Because Claudio is my agent’s ex.

Still, he’s smart, charming, and wickedly sexy, plus a great father to Vanni. He’s fast becoming the cure to all my writing woes. And it’s clear he wants me as much as I want him.

As the hot Italian summer wears on, it becomes harder and harder to resist. Succumbing to the heat even just one time could ruin my career.

Or he could be exactly what I need.

Holy. SWOOOON!!! One Hot Italian Summer was pure romance heaven and I loved it! Karina Halle has been killing it with her recent releases and this latest one is now a new favorite of mine. You will 100% get swept off your feet and wish you were in Italy once you read Grace and Claudio’s romance. It’s feel-good, steamy, and so sweet, I couldn’t help but adore every moment I read it.

Grace used to be one half of an author duo, but after the death of her writing partner, she’s feeling adrift and experiencing writer’s block. Her new agent offers a solution: Grace will take a much needed vacation from Scotland and stay in her agent’s villa in the Italian countryside. It’s perfect… until she finds herself naked (so she can take a dip in the pool) in front of a gorgeous stranger and his son. Turns out, Claudio and Vanni are Grace’s agent’s ex-husband and son, and all three of them will be staying in the Tuscany villa together for the time being.

Grace and Claudio have SO much tension between them from the get-go. You can clearly tell how much they want each other but are trying so hard not to act on their lust and chemistry, not just because of Vanni but also his mother. But there’s nothing more romantic than spending time together in the Italian countryside, where the sun is shining, the food is decadent, and the hero is a hunk, a sculptor (there’s a pottery scene a la Ghost), and can speak to you (dirty) in Italian. These two fall and they fall hard. It’s actually Claudio that dives in headfirst regarding the romance, and I loved that so much. He knows Grace is The One for him and will do anything to make her fall in love with him.

This book is the definition of the heart-eyes emoji. Grace is a lovely, relatable heroine, Claudio is swoony and sweet, even Vanni is hilarious and adorable! Karina Halle always writes such incredible romances that take place around the world, and this time she had me wishing I could live in Tuscany… and fall in love with a gorgeous Italian single dad. If you’re looking for the perfect summer romance, look no further than One Hot Italian Summer.


lacey


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Review: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha
Series: Mercenary Librarians #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 28th 2020
Links: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.

Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.

They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…

Or they could do the impossible: team up.

This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.

I’ve been wanting to read Kit Rocha’s fantasy/post-apocalyptic/dystopian romances for years. I own a bunch of their Beyond books in audio but for some reason haven’t gotten to them yet. But when I saw they were writing a new dystopian romance series, about mercenary librarians of all things, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Deal with the Devil is the first in this epic new series and I enjoyed it! It’s action-packed and there is plenty of romance to go around. It’s a solid first installment, with great world-building, and I already can’t wait to read more from this series.

Reading Deal with the Devil reminded me of how much I enjoy dystopian books and that I don’t read enough of them regularly! I liked the way the authors set up this futuristic, survivalist world where it’s every man and woman for themselves. The characters are intriguing (again, MERCENARY. LIBRARIANS. Who don’t hesitate to kill to protect those they care about!) and I was honestly surprised, in the best way, by how much fun they were. While there are serious moments, there is still a ton of great banter between our Librarians and Silver Devil soldiers. Nina and her librarian squad are kickass (she literally kills multiple men in the very first scene). Knox and his band of supersoldiers were fascinating to read about, and the ticking time bomb on their lives had me on the edge of my seat.

I’m so glad I finally got the chance to read one of Kit Rocha’s books. They balanced out the suspense, action, and romance perfectly well in this and I cannot wait for more romances between the Librarians and Devils. I do wish we’d gotten more of the librarian aspect of the series title in the book, but hopefully we’ll get more in future releases.


lacey


Reading Order: Mercenary Librarians series

#1 ~ Deal with the Devil: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Devil You Know: Ebook • Goodreads (Aug. 31, 2021)


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Review: The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe

The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe
Series: Uptown Girls #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The final novel in Joanna Shupe’s critically acclaimed Uptown Girl series about a beautiful do-gooder who must decide if she can team up with one of New York’s brashest criminals without losing something irreplaceable: her heart.

Manhattan kingpin.
Brilliant mastermind.
Gentleman gangster.

He’s built a wall around his heart…

Orphaned and abandoned on the Bowery’s mean streets, Jack Mulligan survived on strength, cunning, and ambition. Now he rules his territory better than any politician or copper ever could. He didn’t get here by being soft. But in uptown do-gooder Justine Greene―the very definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove―Jack may have met his match.

She wears hers on her sleeve…

Justine is devoted to tracking down deadbeat husbands and fighting for fair working conditions. When her mission brings her face-to-face with Jack, she’s shocked to find the man behind the criminal empire is considerably more charming and honorable than many “gentlemen” she knows.

Forming an unlikely alliance, they discover an unexpected desire. And when Justine’s past catches up with them, Jack may be her only hope of survival. Is she ready to make a deal with the devil…?

I’ve been such a huge fan of the Uptown Girls series – and Joanna Shupe – ever since I discovered the series earlier this year. Three kickass sisters who go against the grain by following their minds and hearts, and the rough men they fall for? Yes to all of that, and more. With The Devil of Downtown, we get the third, youngest, and final sister, Justine’s story, and of course she falls for the most powerful, most dangerous man in Gilded Age New York City: top gangster Jack Mulligan. I loved these two characters, and though I’m sad to see the series end, it went out with a bang.

Justine is a do-gooder. She’s like a vigilante private investigator, helping those in need who can’t help themselves. Her latest case leads her to Jack Mulligan, the kingpin of Manhattan’s underground. They end up working together on her case to find a missing/deadbeat husband. And from the very moment they meet, the two are intrigued with each other. Their chemistry is fiery from the get-go, which I’m not surprised about, given that this is a Joanna Shupe book. All the books I’ve read from her are STEAMY, and The Devil of Downtown is no exception. I loved Justine and Jack’s banter together, and there’s even a bowling scene that was hot. Who knew you could make bowling of all things sexy?

But Jack goes against everything that Justine stands for, with the less than savory occupation that he has as a gangster. They are two completely different people, but when they’re together, they’re so right. I was hooked onto their romance, which kept me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure how Joanna Shupe would play out their romance, how they would end up with an HEA, but I was happily along for the ride. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Joanna Shupe’s books, her fantastic writing, her complex characters. She once again wrote another hit in the series I couldn’t put down. And though this is the end of the Uptown Girls, I’m already looking forward to what other Gilded Age romances she has in store for us!


lacey


Reading Order: Uptown Girls series

#1 ~ The Rogue of Fifth Avenue: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Prince of Broadway: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ The Devil of Downtown: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James

Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Caste #5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 19th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A shy wallflower meets her dream man–or does she?–in the next book in New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James’ Wildes of Lindow series.

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare.

So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society — but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter, will stop at nothing to marry Viola, including marrying a woman whom he believes to be in love with another man.

A vicar, no less.

Devin knows he’s no saint, but he’s used to conquest, and he’s determined to win Viola’s heart.

Viola has already said Yes to his proposal, but now he wants her unruly heart…and he won’t accept No for an answer.

I’ve been really enjoying Eloisa James’ Wildes of Lindow Castle series and have been SO excited for Viola’s story because of how her story was set up at the end of Say No to the Duke. She’s a shy wallflower of a heroine who ends up being pursued by a Duke who’s determined to have her – how could I not love this?! Pursuing heroes are my favorite. This latest story from the Wilde siblings turned out to be so soft and sweet. I enjoyed Viola and Devin’s romance so much!

Viola is painfully shy and horribly antisocial, except when it comes to her beloved family and pets. She’s always been afraid of what society thinks of her, and being the Duke’s stepdaughter only makes her feel more like she doesn’t belong. But after listening in on the Duke of Wynter’s cold assessment of her, she realizes she doesn’t care what he thinks and isn’t afraid to speak her mind to him. With the help of her sister, she grows more confident in who she is and starts to break out of her wallflower shell.

Devin, Duke of Wynter, is in need of a wife. He’s settled on a Wilde sister who is NOT Viola, but is utterly shocked when the supposedly shy wallflower calls him out and is determined not to let him anywhere near her sister. He knows he is completely wrong about his assumptions of her and becomes bewitched and besotted with her kindness, her sharp mind, and her inner strength. She might be tiny in comparison to him, but her will is mighty.

Can I just repeat how soft and sweet this book is? I loved how the romance developed between Viola and Devin. Here we have one of the most powerful titled men in England who wants to marry Viola and win her heart… and all she wants from him is friendship. Oh, his biggest competition is a taken vicar. LOL. Viola believes herself to be in love with an engaged man, but soon enough starts to fall for Devin. She’s hesitant and afraid though that he’ll lose interest in her eventually and break her heart, but what she doesn’t realize is that Devin is SO far gone for this woman. This man is SWOONY. He is determined enough to make Viola his Duchess and give her the world that he accepts friendship from her, only so that he can grow closer to her and find other ways to woo her. He might be cold and stoic to everyone else, but he’s tender and sweet when it comes to Viola. You can see how much he grows to treasure her.

My only main complaint with this book was with the scenes near the ending. It felt very… strange and out of place. One is a scene in the vicarage that felt awkward and unnecessary, which is why my rating isn’t higher even though I loved the romance. When it came to the vicarage and the religious play everyone is setting up, I felt pretty bored and just wanted to go back to the romance.

Besides that awkwardness, I truly did enjoy this story. I loved being back with the Wildes, who are as close and fun a family as ever. Viola and Devin had me saying, “Aww” more than once, so if you want yourself a really cute historical romance, definitely give this one a try!


lacey


Reading Order: The Wildes of Lindow Castle series

#1 ~ Wilde in Love: Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Too Wilde to Wed: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Born to be Wilde: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Say No to the Duke: My ReviewEbook • PaperbackAudible Goodreads
#5 ~ Say Yes to the Duke: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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