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: 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: Dirty Charmer by Emma Chase

Dirty Charmer by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 19th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Abigail Haddock is stunning, sensible, and some would say…stuffy. But it’s not really her fault. She was raised in one of Wessco’s oldest, most affluent, aristocratic families—“stuffy” is their middle name. So is successful. Abby’s working overtime to distinguish herself as a top-notch physician, just as her family legacy demands.

She doesn’t have time for nonsense.

Tommy Sullivan’s all about nonsense.

Sure, he’s an elite bodyguard with lethal skills and co-owner of the renowned, S&S Securities Firm—protector of the wealthy and titled. But he’s also rowdy, fun and thoroughly irresistible.

Tommy knows how to have a good time, and he’s never seen someone more in need of a good time than Abby. The lass needs long, wet, filthy kisses—STAT—and he’s just the man for the job.

It doesn’t take long for a wildly sexy, sinfully satisfying, no-strings attached arrangement to turn into something more. Something sweet and addictive and real. But Tommy and Abby are too royally stubborn to admit it.

Opposites attract, everyone knows that. But can their red-hot relationship last—can they love…for forever?

I love Emma Chase. She’s written some of my favorite contemporary romances/rom-coms (Tangled! Sustained!), so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the newest in her Royally series! I recently caught myself up on this royal romance series and was so excited to hear that Tommy would get his story. I enjoyed his and Abby’s romance so much. It’s sweet, sexy, feel-good… all things that Emma Chase is good at writing.

Dirty Charmer is quite the opposites-attract romance. We’ve got our easy-going, charmer, playboy hero who doesn’t come from money and now owns a bodyguard company, and proper, no-nonsense, aristocratic surgeon-in-training heroine who doesn’t have time for fun or games. They first meet when she cares for him at her hospital when he gets hurt, but truly get to know each other when her family hires him and his company as temporary bodyguards. Tommy is so flirty with Abby and determined to bring out her lighter, fun side. I just loved the way these two were with each other!

What begins as a no strings attached affair turns into something more when Tommy realizes he no longer cares for the playboy lifestyle and only wants Abby. I love a heroine knocks a manwhore hero off his feet. Dirty Charmer was just a blast to read – Tommy is a sweetheart, Abby is such a strong, admirable heroine. These two totally worked together and I enjoyed their romance so much! This isn’t quite a royal romance as no one actually belongs to royalty, but if you’re a fan of the series, this new installment is a must read.


lacey


Reading Order: Royally series

 

#1 ~ Royally Screwed: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Royally Matched: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Royally Endowed: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Royally Yours: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads
#5 ~ Dirty Charmer: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads


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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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