Review: Loverboy by Sarina Bowen

Loverboy by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Company #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Secrets, desires, and exquisite pie. It’s all in a day’s work at The Company.

Growing up, I was the rough guy from the wrong neighborhood who couldn’t catch a break. Posy was the pampered girl I tried to impress. But I managed to steal only a single kiss before I had to skip town.

Now I’m back, and the tables are turned. Posy runs a struggling pie shop. I’m the VP of a secretive billion dollar security company.

Not that I can tell her.

There’s a murderer on the loose in New York, and he seems to spend a lot of time at Posy’s shop. I can’t let on that I’m here to bring him down before he can harm a hair on her pretty head.

Going undercover as Posy’s new barista wasn’t my idea. I don’t even drink coffee. But now I have to call her “boss,” and do everything the curvy perfectionist asks of me. I’d forgotten how much we infuriate each other, and that she somehow fills me with both irritation and desire in the same breath.

There’s nobody more skilled at stealth ops than me. I can bring this killer down. Right after I take a cold shower. And just as soon as I figure out how to make a skinny peppermint latte with milk poured in the shape of a kitten…

I could not be happier we’re getting more books in this series! Sarina Bowen did romantic suspense so well in book one, Moonlighter. Loverboy is a great addition to the series, though I’m still dying to get Max’s book. Here, we’ve got a hero going undercover at a bakery, owned by none other than the girl he used to have a massive crush on. Gunnar is such a charmer and I loved his second chance with Posy! The intrigue was great, the romance was swoony – it’s another hit from Sarina Bowen.

Gunnar works for The Company and his latest assignment is to go undercover at Posy’s Pie Shop. Little does he know that THAT Posy is none other than the Posy he used to work with at the bar her family owned, the same Posy he crushed on and kissed, and the same Posy who took the higher paying role he was working for. But since he’s good at his job, he sweeps this all under the rug to get hired as a barista, never mind that he has no barista experience. But Posy herself is desperate and is willing to take on Gunnar to show him the ropes. She has no idea he’s being hired to watch for a security threat using her bakery’s wifi.

I had so much fun reading Loverboy! The romance was great – I enjoyed Gunnar and Posy’s characters so much. Gunnar is a sweet-talker and Posy is trying to be a good but strict boss, and failing to keep her feelings in check. There’s some intrigue and action just like there was in book one, but there’s not too much that it overtakes the romance. I loved the foodie aspect of this story, since most of the book takes place in Posy’s bakery. I honestly don’t have much to complain about. It’s a feel-good romance and if you’re a fan of Sarina Bowen, I’m sure you’ll love Loverboy.


lacey


Reading Order: The Company series

#1 ~ Moonlighter: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Loverboy: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Early Review: Layla by Colleen Hoover

Layla by Colleen Hoover
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: December 8th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Colleen Hoover wrote a paranormal book. About ghosts!

This isn’t actually the first time I’ve read something non-contemporary from her. I’ve read her Never Never series (that she co-wrote with Tarryn Fisher), which I enjoyed. But with Layla, I really had no idea what I would be getting into. I had no idea what kind of paranormal it would be, no idea if it would be a ROMANCE, like a PNR. But as usual with all of CoHo’s books, it’s best to go in blind. And while I wish I could’ve loved this one more, the story was one that had me hooked to its pages with its suspense and mystery.

Leeds and Layla fall head over heels in love from the moment they meet. It is very much instalove between two people who feel an intensely strong connection right from the start. But a few months into their whirlwind of a romance, Layla gets shot by Leeds’ ex and almost dies. He spends weeks helping Layla recover, but ever since the attack, Layla has been different. Leeds can’t explain why or how, but he hopes bringing her to the place they first met and fell in love will wake her back up.

This book is essentially Paranormal Activity, Colleen Hoover style. Which means it’s less scary and more romance. There’s a mysterious ghost haunting the bed and breakfast that Leeds takes Layla to recover. The ghost starts to communicate with him and he thinks he’s going insane (like anyone would, right?). There’s kind of a romance but I wouldn’t call this PNR, where the romance is the focus – just a paranormal, ghost book with a little bit of romance. I sadly never connected with Leeds or Layla, never grew invested in their characters or love story, which is why I can only give this a three star rating. They fall in love so fast, and maybe if we’d gotten more time with them during the beginning of their relationship, I’d feel differently. It was a strange read but I did really enjoy the twist at the end. The mystery/suspense was what kept me reading, though at times I really wanted the story to hurry up so I could find out WHAT was happening. I liked the way the author set up the story, with alternating past and present chapters. Layla is told entirely in Leeds’ POV, which makes sense when you find out the truth at the end.

This wasn’t a bad read, but I did expect a bit more from one of my favorite authors. I wouldn’t be opposed to reading another paranormal book from CoHo – she always knows how to write a story full of twists and turns. I do wish we’d gotten a bit more at the end of this book, maybe an epilogue or something. It ends on a good note, but it did feel abrupt. If you’re curious to see how CoHo tackles a ghost story, I would say give this a try! Especially if you love a good mystery/suspense.


lacey


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Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
Series: Runaway Royals #1
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

An arranged marriage leads to unexpected desire, in the first book of Alyssa Cole’s Runaway Royals series…

When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.

By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.

I have been SO excited to read this book ever since I 1) saw the cover, 2) read the blurb, and 3) saw that it was a marriage of convenience! I especially loved reading the line that says “By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion.” I sadly didn’t quite love this new Alyssa Cole as much as I was hoping to – it’s a sloooow burn romance and very heavy on the royal politics. I wanted the story to focus more on our main couple, which was why How to Catch a Queen was a bit of a struggle for me to read.

Shanti and Sanyu enter a marriage of convenience when Shanti is chosen to be Sanyu’s queen. Shanti gets to live out her dream of being a queen so she can help others and Sanyu fulfills his father’s final request to marry, despite never wanting to inherit the throne. Love is not involved in the least, and it takes quite a long time for it to develop in this romance. We focus more on Shanti’s struggles with her awful treatment from Sanyu and his subjects and Sanyu torn between tradition and what he wants for his and his country’s future.

Alyssa Cole did a fantastic job bringing this fictional country of Njaza to life, with its rich, nuanced history. But after a while, the story did feel like it was dragging, especially the romance. There wasn’t enough of the romance between Shanti and Sanyu to satisfy me, which is why I have to give this 3.5 stars instead of the 4 it easily could’ve been. Still, it was a good start to this spinoff series of the Reluctant Royals, and I can’t wait to see where Alyssa Cole takes us next!


lacey


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Review: Out of Love by Jewel E. Ann

Out of Love by Jewel E. Ann
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: September 27th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Conspiracies. Corruption. Serial killers.

You name it—I’m fascinated by it. My mom always blamed my overly curious and highly suspicious mind on my dad.

My incredibly overbearing dad.

Mr. No One Is Good Enough For My Daughter has been terrifying my dates since I turned fifteen.

College is my chance to be free from his control and date any guy I want.

I’m absolutely certain he would hate Slade Wylder—almost as certain as I am that I do too.

Since when have I shied away from trouble?

Slade fascinates me. He lives in a house I’m certain is haunted. His dog is trained as well as any guard I’ve ever seen. Rumor on campus is that he deals drugs. It would explain a lot.

But it doesn’t explain why he saves me from my darkest moment.

It doesn’t explain why I can’t stop thinking about him.

And the explanation I finally discover is far more dangerous than any rumor.

Leela and Hunt are determined to keep each other at arm’s length, which should be easy enough for two intelligent adults with reputations to uphold. The problem is all logic is lost when it comes to a passion that refuses to be ignored.

I have been such a huge fan of Jewel E. Ann’s ever since I read Look the Part and fell head over heels in love with that book and her writing! So I was crazy excited to read a new romance, this time set in college, with a good dose of suspense, and with plenty of twists and turns. I enjoyed Out of Love so much – the romance is engaging and fascinating. I enjoyed the main characters Livy and Slade, I LOVED Slade’s dog, and the college, new adult vibes were so much fun. I also didn’t realize this until halfway through the story, but Out of Love is a spinoff of JEA’s previous Jack & Jill series, featuring Livy’s parents and her aunt. Now I want to go back and try that series out!

Livy Knight is a bit of a wild child. She’s lived with her overbearing, overprotective father and now that she’s alone in college, she’s going to make the most of her freedom. It’s the start of a new school year and in one of her classes is the school’s biggest enigma and loner, Slade Wylder. There are rumors that he’s a dangerous man, but that doesn’t stop Livy from trying to get close to him, and his German Shepard Jericho. And luckily for her, Slade and Jerry live just down the street from her in an old, haunted firehouse.

I adored Livy and her feistiness! She never let Slade’s asshole ways get to her. And he can be a JERK. They fall in love a bit too fast for my liking, but I always enjoyed anytime these two characters were in a room together, because sparks flew. Slade and his strange job are a mystery to Livy, though it is fairly easy to predict what it is. The last third of the book is where all the craziness happens and everything starts to come together. I enjoyed the suspenseful aspect of this book, but I do have to say I loved the regular, college romance part just a liiittle bit more.

Overall, this is a great standalone if you want your new adult romances a little more exciting and with some action. The writing is great, the characters are fun, and again, I loved Slade’s dog so much! I don’t know why we don’t have more romance books with animal sidekicks, because they always steal the show.

*Trigger warning for sexual assault/attempted rape in Chapter 4


lacey


Out of Love is a standalone spinoff of the Jack & Jill series

Reading Order: Jack & Jill series

#1 ~ End of Day: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Middle of Knight: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Dawn of Forever: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: The One That Got Away by Karina Halle

The One That Got Away by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: September 20th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Ruby Turner was never meant to be mine.

When I first met her she was a fresh, young American sports journalist trying to find her footing in a new life abroad. She was the one interviewing me for an article, yet I wanted to know more about her. She captivated me.

But she went home with Marco that night.
My agent.
My brother.

And I did what I could to pretend I was fine with it. After all, I’m Luciano Ribeiro. As the captain of Real Madrid, and Portugal’s National Team, it’s my job to be cool, calm, and collected, not easily rattled.

Only what I felt for Ruby over time, shook me to my very core. It made me do things I never imagined I would do.
It started with a stolen kiss in the middle of the night.
It led to a passionate tryst.
It created a burden of guilt that I had to carry, as Ruby came in and out of my life until she left for good, leaving her mark on me.

Now, seven years later, she’s back.
She was the one that got away.
I don’t think I’ll let her go this time.
But I might not have a choice.
Because my heart still belongs to her.
And her heart might belong to my brother.

I’ve been wanting a book for Luciano since he was first introduced in The Forbidden Man. We knew he’d loved and lost, and now we finally get his second chance romance in The One That Got Away. And even though he’s a spinoff character, this book still holds perfectly fine as a standalone, so if you’re in the mood for an angsty, second chance, soccer romance, you’ll want to give Luciano and Ruby’s book a try!

Seven years ago, Ruby and Luciano first met when Ruby arrived in Europe to create a new life for herself, starting with interviewing soccer players for her fledgling blog. With her luck, she gets five minutes with rising star Luciano Ribeiro, and they feel a connection from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, Ruby has already accepted a date with Luciano’s brother/agent Marco right before their meeting. So Luciano steps aside, even though he knows that Ruby should be with him, and their angsty, years-long romance begins.

Going into this, I expected a second chance romance that starts during the present day. So I was surprised when we start the book seven years ago and when our main characters first meet and fall in (forbidden) love. This did change up the dynamics for me and made it feel less like a second chance romance and more like any normal romance, albeit still a little forbidden and soccer related. Ruby is an interesting heroine – she begins the book doing something I would never have the guts to do, which is leave everything and everyone behind to start a new life in a completely different country. For that, I admired her, but I do have to say I grew frustrated with her reasons for not being with Luciano. I was hurting for these two but also wanted them to get over themselves and get back together.

It’s very much an up and down kind of emotional roller coaster with The One That Got Away. I COULD NOT put this book down – I finished it in a day, needing to know how the romance finally works out. If you love romances with a ton of push and pull, you’ll enjoy Ruby and Luciano. And if you loved some of Karina Halle’s past romance like Love, in English and The Forbidden Man, we get some lovely cameos with our favorite couples!


lacey


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