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Review: Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Title: Under One Roof
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Series: The STEMinist Novellas #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Narrator: Emma Wilder
Format: Audiobook
Length: 4 hours (112 pages)
Publisher: Berkley; Books on Tape
Release Date: February 7, 2022
Source: Library
Content Warnings: misogyny, sexual harrassament, death

SYNOPSIS

A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

MY THOUGHTS

This is my favorite of the STEMinist novellas! While the premise that brought Mara and Liam into forced proximity is wholly unbelievable, I thoroughly enjoyed the story that followed.

I loooooooove a slow burn enemies to friends to lovers, and Mara and Liam’s relationship development was so sweet. They developed a genuine connection and truly cared for each other. I also thought Liam’s neurodivergency was represented in a sensitive way.

I would have loved a full-length novel about this couple!

Review: Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Stuck With You
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Series: The STEMinist Novellas #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Length: 3 hours (127 pages)
Publisher: Berkley; Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: March 7, 2022
Source: Library
Content Warnings: confinement (elevator)

SYNOPSIS

Nothing like a little rivalry between scientists to take love to the next level.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Logically, Sadie knows that civil engineers are supposed to build bridges. However, as a woman of STEM she also understands that variables can change, and when you are stuck for hours in a tiny New York elevator with the man who broke your heart, you earn the right to burn that brawny, blond bridge to the ground. Erik can apologize all he wants, but to quote her rebel leader—she’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

Not even the most sophisticated of Sadie’s superstitious rituals could have predicted such a disastrous reunion. But while she refuses to acknowledge the siren call of Erik’s steely forearms or the way his voice softens when he offers her his sweater, Sadie can’t help but wonder if there might be more layers to her cold-hearted nemesis than meet the eye. Maybe, possibly, even burned bridges can still be crossed….

To read Mara and Hannah’s stories look for the novellas Under One Roof, available now, and Below Zero, coming soon from Berkley!

MY THOUGHTS

This is my second favorite of the STEMinist novellas! Honestly, the plot, tropes, and conflict are very similar to Below Zero, but better executed in this story. After a meet cute, Sadie and Erik instantly click, resulting in a romantic dinner and spicy night together. However, they are both engineers, and shortly after their hookup it seems that Erik betrays her professionally. As a woman in STEM, Sadie is used to being slighted, but she never expected that betrayal from Corporate Thor after their witty banter and undeniable connection.

Once again, Ali Hazelwood relies on miscommunication and perceptions of betrayal to create conflict between love interests; however, in this novella, I truly understand why Sadie is so willing to assume the worst of Erik and cut him off. Proximity forces them to confront one another and discuss their sides of what really happened. So many moments had me laughing!

Review: Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Title: Below Zero
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Series: The STEMinist Novellas #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Savannah Peachwood
Length: 4 hours (124 pages)
Publisher: Berkley; Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: April 4, 2022
Source: Library
Content Warnings: injury, abandonment, misogyny

SYNOPSIS

It will take the frosty terrain of the Arctic to show these rival scientists that their chemistry burns hot.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Hannah’s got a bad feeling about this. Not only has the NASA aerospace engineer found herself injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station—but the one person willing to undertake the hazardous rescue mission is her longtime rival.

Ian has been many things to Hannah: the villain who tried to veto her expedition and ruin her career, the man who stars in her most deliciously lurid dreams…but he’s never played the hero. So why is he risking everything to be here? And why does his presence seem just as dangerous to her heart as the coming snowstorm?

To read Mara and Sadie’s stories look for the novellas Under One Roof and Stuck with You available now from Berkley!

MY THOUGHTS

This is my least favorite of the STEMinist novellas. I love the premise of a NASA enemies to lovers romance…but this is not actually enemies to lovers. It’s instalove to miscommunication to overblown “rivalry” that only Hannah knows about to more miscommunication to near-death experience to finally romance. The miscommunication trope is not cute, especially when it affects the funding of NASA projects that cost millions of dollars! Hannah and Ian’s first encounter was very unprofessional, and I found Hannah to be annoyingly judgmental and self-righteous. I actually liked Ian, but while his grand gesture was swoon worthy, the conflict was so unnecessary.

Review: The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Cheat Sheet
Author: Sarah Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Renee Dorian, Teddy Hamilton
Length: 9 hours (306 pages)
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Release Date: August 17, 2021
Source: Library
Recommended for fans of: The Bromance Book Club
Content Warnings: panic attacks, car accident

SYNOPSIS

Is it ever too late to leave the friend-zone?

Hi, my name is Bree Camden, and I’m hopelessly in love with my best friend and star quarterback Nathan Donelson (so is half of America, judging by the tabloids and how much the guy dates). The first step is admitting, right? Except, I can never admit it to him because he clearly doesn’t see me that way, and the last thing I want is for things to get weird between us.

Nothing but good old-fashioned, no-touching-the-sexiest-man-alive, platonic friendship for us! Everything is exactly how I like it! Yes. Good. (I’m not crying, I’m just peeling an onion.)

Our friendship is going swimmingly until I accidentally spill my beans to a reporter over too much tequila, and now the world seems to think me and Nathan belong together. Oh, and did I mention we have to date publicly for three weeks until after the Super Bowl because we signed a contract with…oops, forgot I can’t tell anyone about that!

Bottom line is, now my best friend is smudging all the lines and acting very un-platonic, and I’m just trying to keep my body from bursting into flames every time he touches me.

How am I going to make it through three weeks of fake dating Nathan without anything changing between us? Especially when it almost-sort-a-kinda seems like he’s fighting for a completely different outcome?

Send help.
XO Bree

MY THOUGHTS

I adored this book! It’s a super cheesy, sweet, and hilarious clean romance with friends to lovers, fake dating, and sports. Bree and Nathan, who have been harboring feelings for each other since high school, had such fun banter after years of friendship. The story also included really tender moments and realistic mental health rep.

I’ve seen some complaints that this book is too immature, unrealistic, and cheesy for an adult romance. I do think those are fair criticisms, but I love cheese, a certain whiteboard scene had me crying laughing, and I don’t think a story needs to be 100% realistic to be entertaining. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to making my way through Sarah Adams’s backlist!

Review: Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Part of Your World
Author: Abby Jimenez
Series: The Friend Zone #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Julia Whelan, Zachary Webber
Length: 10 hours (400 pages)
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 19, 2022
Source: Library
Recommended for fans of: Emily Henry, Sajni Patel
Content Warnings: emotional abuse, domestic abuse, physical abuse, gaslighting, medical content, pregnancy, toxic friendship

SYNOPSIS

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

The New York Times bestselling author of Life’s Too Short delivers a refreshingly modern fairy tale perfect for fans of Casey McQuiston and Emily Henry.

MY THOUGHTS

Once again, it is difficult for me to express how much I loved this book, and it will absolutely be one of my favorites for the year. Abby Jimenez always writes evocative books with such heart, hilarity, and carefully handled heavy topics, but this is her best yet.

Part of Your World is an opposites attract, forbidden, small town/big city romance. Forbidden love is my favorite romance trope, but it can be challenging to pull off in a contemporary setting…IT WORKS HERE! Alexis Montgomery is a hardworking, legacy doctor reeling from a recent breakup and struggling to live up to her parents’ expectations. Daniel is a cinnamon roll of a small town carpenter, innkeeper, mayor, and dog owner. They are such a good match and so supportive of each other’s dreams. Their relationship was never meant to last…but their connection is undeniable. I love a book where the couple thinks they can’t be together but also can’t stop thinking about each other.

The emotional parts of this book were so well written. Alexis’s ex, her parents, her friends, and Daniel’s mom all ENRAGED me in turn. Alexis experienced emotional abuse in her previous relationship, but since she was never physically abused, many people in her life belittle her experience and even encouraged her to reunite with her abuser… this was difficult to read, but close friends and therapy validated her and helped her stand up for herself. Since Alexis is a doctor, this book also includes some semi-detailed medical content, including a traumatic birth scene.

I also want to rave about the audiobook production! Julia Whelan and Zachary Webber did such an amazing job bringing the story life by infusing their performances with so much emotion. I’m sure I still would’ve cried and laughed and smiled and raged had I read the physical book, but the audio made me fall in love with this story even more.

Review: First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: First Love, Take Two
Author: Sajni Patel
Series: The Trouble With Hating You #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Length: 11 hours (336 pages)
Publisher: Hachette Audio; Forever
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Source: Library
Recommended for fans of: Abby Jimenez books
Content Warnings: racism, medical trauma, miscarriage, mental illness, toxic friendship, sexual assault

SYNOPSIS

On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.

Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance?

MY THOUGHTS

This second chance, forbidden romance with the forced proximity and one bed tropes is the kind of contemporary romance I just love that is sweet, hilarious, and EMOTIONAL. Sajni Patel writes in a way that makes me FEEL for her characters, from sorrow to outrage to joy.

Preeti and Daniel’s relationship was full of witty banter and delicious pining. The romantic scenes are clean/closed door, although there is a decent amount of innuendo throughout the book for humor. I didn’t completely buy the reason for their original breakup or the circumstances that brought them back together, and some scenes seemed overdramatic, but it made for an entertaining and emotional book.

This is not just a heartwarming rom-com; the story addresses many heavy topics including racism, mental health struggles, and toxic relationships. Preeti comes from a traditional South Asian family Daniel is Black, and members of both families do not approve of a match outside their respective cultures. There is also a scene where one of Preeti’s patients has a traumatic miscarriage.

This book made me feel all the feels. I also loved the Texas setting, Preeti’s supportive group of girlfriends, and the descriptions of food! You know it’s a good book when it inspires you to get Torchy’s Tacos for dinner. I hope Sajni Patel continues to write for an adult audience.

Review: An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: An Offer from a Gentleman
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Audience: Adult
Format:
Length:
Publisher:
Release Date:
Source:
Recommended for fans of:
Content Warnings:

SYNOPSIS

Will she accept his offer before the clock strikes midnight?

Sophie Beckett never dreamed she’d be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton’s famed masquerade ball—or that “Prince Charming” would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.

Who was that extraordinary woman? Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other—except, perhaps this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid’s garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?

MY THOUGHTS

This was a sweet installment in the Bridgerton series! I do think it was an odd choice to make the third book in the series a Cinderella retelling. I understand that Julia Quinn plays with different romance tropes in each book, but it made much of the story (especially the beginning), feel contrived and predictable.

I always love a forbidden romance, and I appreciate the way the Bridgerton family accepted Sophie, even though she was of a lower station. The conflict at the end was very dramatic but entertaining. I know the show is skipping Benedict’s love story for season 3, but I’m curious how the show will eventually interpret this fairy tale romance.

Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: A Touch of Darkness
Author: Scarlett St. Clair
Series: Hades & Persephone
Genre: Urban Fantasy Retelling
Audience: New Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Meg Sylvan
Length: 11 hours (358 pages)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: May 23, 2019
Source: Library
Recommended for fans of: Greek mythology retellings
Content Warnings: sexual content, sexual assault, sexual harassment, emotional abuse

SYNOPSIS

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

MY THOUGHTS

I was not sure how I was going to like this book. I’m not always a fan of urban fantasy and I worried the spice might be over the top, but I really enjoyed this dark and sexy modern-day take on Greek mythology.

I’ve seen many reviews describe this book as addicting, and that is exactly right. This is the definition of a guilty pleasure read. The story is full of romance cliches and very steamy, but I couldn’t put it down.

This book is not just about Hades and Persephone’s romance; there are some great side characters (LOVE Hecate) that cleverly reimagine the myths. I’ve also seen a lot of reviews saying Persephone is annoying, but while she is very naive at the beginning of the story, I honestly liked her journey unlocking the key to her powers and gaining confidence in herself.

This was not the most original or complex story I’ve ever read, but it was fun, and I will definitely continue this series.

Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 377 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: Beach Read, People We Meet on Vacation, Hallmark movies, Abby Jimenez books
Content Warnings: death of parent, grief, mental illness, pregnancy

SYNOPSIS

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming….

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

MY THOUGHTS

I loved this book a whole lot. The reverse small town/Hallmark-esque storyline was so well-written. Nora is not a typical main character for a romance book; she is perceived to be a shark, a cold-hearted workaholic, the woman men date before meeting the actual love of their life.

I thought Nora’s relationship development with Charlie was near perfect. This is not really enemies to lovers; they knew each other’s professional reputations and made a bad first impression on each other, but their next encounter became flirtatious very quickly. I liked that they were so similar (rare in romance books) because it helped them understand each other on a deeper level. And y’all know I’m a sucker for a forbidden/doomed love affair.

I also really loved Nora’s relationship with her sister Libby. I think many of us can relate to feeling of drifting apart from someone you’ve always been close to and wanting to do everything you can to fix it. The way they each remembered their mother was also very nuanced.

What I love about Emily Henry’s writing is how she makes me feel a whole spectrum emotions. Her rom coms are hilarious, but the way she includes heavier topics in her storylines is so realistic and emotional. Emily Henry books always make me both laugh and cry, and that is a sign of the very best books for me.

This book in particular was very clever in its use and subversion of classic literary tropes. It is truly a book written about and for book lovers.

Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Title: The Viscount Who Loved Me
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #2
Genre: Historical Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 12 hours (354 pages)
Publisher: Recorded Books; Avon
Release Date: June 27, 2006
Source: Library
Recommended for fans of: Bridgerton, Regency romance novels
Content Warnings: death of a parent, panic attacks

SYNOPSIS

1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London’s most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry.
And in truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better…
—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, 
April 1814

But this time, the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry—he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…

MY THOUGHTS

This was an utter delight. I always love an enemies to lovers romance. Kate and Anthony had such a satisfying relationship journey, and they are a great match in how well they understand each other’s fears and insecurities. This is one of the better Bridgerton books.

I totally understand now why book fans were so upset when season 2 came out, however, since the show did not leave Kate and Anthony much time to actually be together and cut many of their sweet moments. It seems especially odd that the show writers cut so many romantic moments since they had to add so much content to produce a full season of a television drama… but since I watched the show before the book I was able to absolutely love them both!

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind when comparing the books to the show is that the books are lighthearted romances that focus on the POVs of one couple at a time, while the show is an ensemble drama. This difference became even more apparent in season 2, and it will grow in future seasons.