Release Day Review: The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée by Annika Martin

The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée by Annika Martin
Series: Billionaires of Manhattan #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

I’m no Prince Charming, and the last thing I need is a Cinderella.

My instructions were simple: scour the city for a fake fiancée who’s not my type at all. Have her on my jet Monday morning, dressed appropriately for a yacht vacation.

I need a woman believable enough to convince a certain client that I’ve changed my playboy ways…yet nothing like the supermodels and socialites I usually have on my arm.

Somebody too annoying to tempt me–no emotional entanglements, thank you very much. This is business only.

If she’s unfazed by my looks and wealth, all the better.

Should be easy. Right?

Apparently not, because my people go and hire Tabitha. My hairdresser.

What were they thinking? Yes, I said annoying, but I didn’t mean Tabitha, the most frustrating woman in the world.

Tabitha is sunshiny. She has a pet hamster. She loves Hello Kitty, and she gets under my skin like nobody else.

As if that’s not bad enough, the minute we step on deck, she thinks that certain people on the yacht are up to something shady–based completely on her soap opera knowledge.

She won’t listen when I tell her she’s being ridiculous.

But as the days go by, I find that we’re actually having fun. And our fake kisses are heating up. And suddenly her wild theories aren’t sounding so strange after all…

Anyone else a sucker for the grump falling for the sunshine character trope? Or the fake engagement trope? If so, you’re in luck! Annika Martin’s latest rom-com has all that goodness (if you couldn’t tell, I love a good grump) and more. The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée is a fantastic, light-hearted romance that will have you smiling and giggling. It’s feel-good and adorable and exactly what I want in a rom-com!

I’ve been wanting to read Annika Martin’s contemporary romances for a while. I’ve only ever read her dark romances, and I always find it so fascinating and impressive when authors switch up genres/subgenres – and do it well. Now I know for a fact that Annika Martin can do both dark and lighthearted romances, because I enjoyed The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée so much! We’ve got the grumpiest grump of a hero (which, if you include in a book, I’ll want to read it) who needs a fake fiancée to win over an account for his billion-dollar company. Rex wants to find someone he does not like and who is in no danger of falling for him… so he hires his hairdresser Tabitha. Tabitha, the sunshiniest girl he’s ever met, the woman he sees once a week for his hair, the one who owns a hamster, loves daytime soap operas, and gets on his nerves like no other.

“Don’t worry, your kindness is a secret between us. You’re my brutish, gothic Heathcliff, the alpha male who shows his soft side only to me. Ooh, that’s good.” Here she does one of her upwards finger-pointing gestures. “Right there. That’s our couples dynamic.”

Most of the story takes place on a giant yacht, so not only do we have fake fiancés, we’ve got fake fiancés who are forced to be in close proximity for the next two weeks. Rex and Tabitha are entertaining as all get out when they’re together – she’s constantly ruffling his feathers and he’s being a total grump about it. I loved their dynamic, with and without the fake engagement. And I loved being able to see Rex slowly let down his walls to let Tabitha in. She turns his life completely upside down with her adoring, sweet ways. She’s ridiculous and hilarious and I loved her for him.

It drives me crazy that I can’t read her right now. It drives me crazy that she isn’t wearing any of her secret little Tabitha things. She’s everything that drives me crazy, and everything that I ragingly, infuriatingly, frustratingly want.

Now I am absolutely looking forward to reading Annika Martin’s other billionaire rom-coms! This one read completely fine as a standalone, so I’m sure the others can be too. I’m also DYING to read the next book in the series, another opposites attract romance, about the shy friend who confronts the owner of the building they live in!


lacey

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


Reading Order: Billionaires of Manhattan series

#1 ~ The Billionaire’s Wake-Up-Call Girl: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Most Eligible Billionaire: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Breaking the Billionaire’s Rules: Paperback • Goodreads
#4 ~The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#5 ~ Return Billionaire to Sender: Goodreads (Sept. 2020)


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Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: March 24th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

I’ve been wanting to read Mhairi McFarlane ever since her last release, Don’t You Forget About Me, came out last year. I heard such high praise for it so when I had the chance to read this new women’s fiction book of hers, I grabbed it! If I Never Met You turned out to be a charming, entertaining, and very British romance (but still on the WF side) between two co-workers to pretend to date for their own selfish reasons and end up falling for each other instead. I’m a sucker for the fake relationship trope and I was so happy with the way Laurie and Jamie’s turned out!

Laurie has been dumped by her long-time boyfriend, who she imagined creating a family and future with, and now she has to deal with the office gossip about her ex moving very quickly with another woman… and getting her pregnant. She wants to stick it in her ex’s face, so when she gets stuck in an elevator with Jamie and he offers to pretend to be her new loving boyfriend to the rest of the office, how can she refuse?

Jamie wants to have Laurie, the golden girl of the office, as his pretend girlfriend to better his image to the higher-ups for a promotion. They go on romantic dates, post cute photos on Instagram, and genuinely become friends. I loved this new friendship of theirs, how they grow to care for each other and just have fantastic banter anytime they have a conversation. The writing is witty and fun, and even though I did get a little bored during the first hundred pages (in which Laurie is constantly thinking about her ex), the rest of the book is engaging.

I’d say if you love Talia Hibbert’s romances, you should give this book a try. The characters in this book are fun and quirky, and of course there are a ton of British-isms sprinkled throughout. Laurie and Jamie make a wonderful fake and real couple, and I really loved that they built their romance over the foundation of friendship. The humor, snark, and charm all worked together and I already can’t wait to read more from this author.


lacey


Also by Mhairi McFarlane

 

Don’t You Forget About Me: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Early Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 21st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a reclusive investor goes viral, shoving her into the world’s spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’s been pining for…

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings <eyes emoji>

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a random guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire encounter with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn’t easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. Besides, everyone has it all wrong…that #CafeBae bro? He isn’t the man she’s hungry for.

He’s got a <peach emoji> to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, offers his family’s farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush feels like a recipe for hopeless longing, but Katrina craves the escape. She’s resigned to being just friends with Jas–until they share a single electrifying kiss. Now she can’t help but wonder if her crush may not be so unrequited after all…

I have been so excited for Girl Gone Viral – for Katrina’s story – ever since reading and enjoying The Right Swipe. And after having finished GGV, I can say this is another success in the Modern Love series! But what else did I expect from Alisha Rai? I loved this story. Jas and Katrina are the sweetest cinnamon rolls and I adored their slow burn romance! If you’re in the mood for something fluffy that will make you feel all the bubbly feelings, you need to read this book.

In case you didn’t know, this is a BODYGUARD ROMANCE! A trope I don’t read that often, but love all the same. Jas has been Katrina’s bodyguard and protecting her for years, and both have been pining for each other for almost as long as they’ve known each other. There is plenty of longing and unrequited (but actually requited) loved between the two of them. Then Katrina goes viral on Twitter against her will, terrified of losing her privacy, and Jas sweeps her away to his secluded farm out in the California countryside. FINALLY, things start to heat up now that they’re in such close proximity together (and Katrina gets to accidentally see Jas shirtless a time or two).

Katrina and Jas are such pure characters. They are kindhearted and selfless people, which is the main reason why neither of them ever brought up their feelings to the other until now. Their romance is just so… SOFT. I loved the dynamic between these two characters who have known each other for YEARS, so they know all about the other person’s quirks, likes, and dislikes. There is also plenty going on outside of their adorable slow burn romance, with the tweets and the people behind them showing up all over the media, and Jas’ family conflicts, particularly with his grandfather, who wants Jas to inherit his farm.

I think I liked this even more than The Right Swipe. I know I’ve seen some reviews say that the romance was overshadowed (which I felt in TRS) but in GGV it never really felt that way to me! I didn’t mind at all that we get a ton about the viral tweet and Jas’s issues with his family, mainly because Jas and Katrina are always dealing with everything TOGETHER. They are such soft, lovely, complex characters and if you love the bodyguard trope, I can’t recommend this book enough!


lacey


Reading Order: Modern Love series

#1 ~ The Right Swipe: My ReviewEbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Girl Gone Viral: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads (April 21, 2020)


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Early Review: The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham

The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham
Series: Society of Sirens #1
Publication Date: April 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Meet the SOCIETY OF SIRENS—three radical, libertine ladies determined to weaponize their scandalous reputations to fight for justice and the love they deserve…

She’s a Rakess on a quest for women’s rights…

Seraphina Arden’s passions include equality, amorous affairs, and wild, wine-soaked nights. To raise funds for her cause, she’s set to publish explosive memoirs exposing the powerful man who ruined her. Her ideals are her purpose, her friends are her family, and her paramours are forbidden to linger in the morning.

He’s not looking for a summer lover…

Adam Anderson is a wholesome, handsome, widowed Scottish architect, with two young children, a business to protect, and an aversion to scandal. He could never, ever afford to fall for Seraphina. But her indecent proposal—one month, no strings, no future—proves too tempting for a man who strains to keep his passions buried with the losses of his past.

But one night changes everything…

What began as a fling soon forces them to confront painful secrets—and yearnings they thought they’d never have again. But when Seraphina discovers Adam’s future depends on the man she’s about to destroy, she must decide what to protect… her desire for justice, or her heart.

I had such high hopes for The Rakess as soon as I saw the title, blurb, AND cover. I mean, just look at that gorgeous, old-school vibes cover! And a female rake heroine? YES, please. I’m all for heroines in historical romances (and romances in general) who are feminist and love sex. I was also excited to be reading my very first Scarlett Peckham book – her historical romances have been on my radar since so many have raved about them. And while the concept of The Rakess is great and exactly up my alley, I had a tough time… reading it. The first half was so boring, it was a struggle to get through. The second half did get a lot better, but I’m so sad this book didn’t live up to my expectations.

Seraphina is as liberal, radical, and scandalous as you can imagine a woman who is feminist, fights for women’s rights, and has lovers and affairs left and right in the 19th century. And I truly loved her for all of that. She’s on a quest to help women in need, while also taking down the powerful man who ruined and smeared her reputation. While in the countryside to write her exposé, she meets Adam Anderson, a gorgeous, Scottish single father she’d love nothing more to spend her nights with. Instead, this rakess falls for him and his two young children.

The idea behind The Rakess is fantastic. It just wasn’t executed well enough for me. There was barely any romance until 60% of the way through the book. The hero is an absolute Nice Guy and while I loved the gender flipping of the rake into a rakess, I never grew to love Seraphina’s character. She spends most of the story drinking/drunk and barely contributing to the romance. I wouldn’t have minded that if she were focusing on the feminist movement instead of the romance, but that also doesn’t progress until halfway through the book. It’s only in the last 40% did I get the kind of story I was expecting when I went into The Rakess, and the book became so much more enjoyable.

Despite not fully loving The Rakess, I’m still very much looking forward to the other books in the series. We have two of Seraphina’s friends who will be getting their romances, who are just as scandalous as this heroine, and I can’t wait to see how they will turn out. Plus, I did enjoy Scarlett Peckham’s writing – hopefully I’ll enjoy her other series more than this book.



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Review: All I Ask by Corinne Michaels

All I Ask by Corinne Michaels
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: March 17th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Teagan Berkeley is trying her best. A single mom raising a precocious teen, she may have given up on her dreams, but she’s accepted her life in her small beachside hometown. Now the one person who abandoned her when she needed him the most has returned, bringing back memories of what might have been.

Derek Hartz arrives in town with a teenage daughter-and he’s full of guilt over his failed marriage and the way he ended his friendship with Teagan. He’s determined to set things right with her, but first he needs to gain her trust, something he’s not convinced he deserves.

As Teagan and Derek open up to each other-and confess their deepest secrets-it’s impossible for them to deny what’s always been between them. But just when their happily ever after is within reach, their complicated history surfaces again and threatens to keep them apart. Forever.

I was so excited when I got an early copy of All I Ask. First, the cover is STUNNING. Second, two single parents! And third, it’s the (ex) friends to lovers trope. Which means all the angst and all the feels. So I am a bit disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy this book more. It’s not a bad read, just a frustrating one. You can tell Corinne Michaels knows how to write, but the miscommunication in this romance got on my nerves. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when characters just don’t TALK to each other. The reason why our hero and heroine became estranged for over a decade was because they couldn’t express their feelings towards one another. This book is definitely a “it’s me, not you” kind of read, but if you also don’t enjoy reading about miscommunication, I would pass on it.

While the book is told in alternate POVs (IMO, there weren’t enough chapters from the hero), we also get two timelines: the past, when Teagan and Derek first meet in high school and fall in unrequited love, and the present, when they reunite for the first time in a decade as single parents. I have to say I wasn’t a big fan of the past chapters – they were boring and didn’t add all that much to the story because I could already tell how in love Teagan and Derek were through their present chapters. And, this is when they start keeping their feelings a secret and Derek uses his new fiancée to cope with the fact that he thinks Teagan doesn’t love him back. Did I also mention Teagan is pregnant by her deadbeat ex and Derek gets his fiancée pregnant? I guess no one uses condoms anymore. It just annoyed me to no end that they could’ve saved over ten years worth of hurt and heartache with a simple conversation.

The present day reunion is underwhelming. It starts off with some fantastic angst and I could just FEEL all the emotions and hurt from Teagan. Derek ghosted her, his best friend, like she didn’t mean anything to him. He stopped all communication with her and dropped off the face of the planet. I really wanted her to make him work towards earning back her trust and heart, but after maybe two conversations they start dating already. So that whole thing was anticlimactic. The thing is, I truly don’t believe Derek would’ve ever gone after Teagan, the woman he supposedly loved, if he didn’t become a widower. I never understood why he was okay living married but separated with his wife, a woman he didn’t love. So Teagan comes across as second best, his second choice, and that left a bad taste in my mouth.

The good things I did enjoy? The writing, which is solid, and Teagan’s daughter, who has such a personality. I’m sure I’m in the minority for this book, but I wanted more – more angst, more GROVELING, more chapters from the hero. And sadly, this just didn’t work for me.



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