Happy Review Sunday guys! It’s been a while since I did one of these and I missed them. Plus I am slightly behind on reviews so this should help me catch up. I will link to Goodreads as per so that you can read the blurb if the cover, name, author, my rating or my review interest you into finding out more. As always my reviews are SPOILER-FREE so don’t worry about that!
Enough rambling from me – onto the reviews!
I was sent some of these via Netgalley. As I did get them on Netgalley, some of them are not actually out yet – but I will link to their Goodreads pages so you can find out when they do come out or if they already are. The ones I received via Netgalley will have (N) beside their title.
The Perfect Bet by Anita Lemke (N)
Star Rating: ⭐
Review: This sadly wasn’t for me. I really struggled to slog through this. Knowing it was only a short novel is what got me through most of the way.
Megan was insufferable. She was beyond horrible to everyone she met. Stuck up and entitled and completely aware of it but unwilling to change or care about her actions.
She has nothing in common with Alex but suddenly they are in love after no real connection or meaningful conversations between them.
The characters all felt very two dimensional and that they had no personality or quirks.
Despite being short it still had a lot of unnecessary parts thrown in, like all of her stuff at work. It just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story.
It was also just really unrealistic with the jumps between emotions for the characters and their actions.
Also, there was no real conclusion out with their relationship. There individual plots didn’t feel tied up and the “bad guys” didn’t get their comeuppance or anything so it just left me feeling a little empty.
Disappointing because I’ve liked Anita Lemke’s writing in the past. Hopefully the next one in the series is better.
Anyone But Rich by Penelope Bloom
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Review: I feel conflicted about this book. It had the kind of spark and pizzaz that made me want to give it 5 stars. The humour and the writing style were just amazing. It had me in laughing fits on multiple occasions. Especially in the first 30 pages.
And yet something felt like it was missing. And i think it was the romance. I really liked the idea behind this story but in practice Rich and Kira just lacked something to pull them together. Their relationship was based on a tempestuous shared history rather than anything that actually happened over the course of the novel. And on top of that their relationship jumps from 0 to 100 with barely any reasoning. There were things at the end of the novel that felt rushed and unfinished and it just overall brought that amazing spark that this novel has down to a 4 star.
I am definitely going to read more from Penelope Bloom because despite the flaws in the relationship in this book, her writing style just had a pizazz and joyousness to it that was so infectious and made me unable to put down the book. Hopefully the next one I read will have a better relationship.
The Studying Hours by Sara Ney
Star Rating: ⭐⭐ ⭐⭐
Review: I didn’t mean to pick this up again (I read it back in 2016 and gave it a 3 star) but I was talking to a friend about College romances and this came into my head. I looked at my rating and was like huh, I wonder why it wasn’t for me. So I decided to reread a couple of chapters to see if I could tell why…and then suddenly it was 4 am and I was 73% of the way through…so let’s just say it’s not a 3 star rating from me anymore.
This was really funny. I loved the writing style. The premise was super fun. The smut was amazing and probably what turned 15 year old me off reading this before, but now is a big tick in the YES box.
I loved their banter and that the plot was solely focused on them and their developing friendship. There was no subplot – it was literally just about them – which I think is pretty unique for romance novels to be able to pull off.
I did think the ending was a little abrupt and left some things unanswered and maybe the characters could have been developed a little more but overall it was a quick fun read that I was definitely too harsh on before.
All In by Bella Matthews (N)
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Review: This was a cute romance but it felt empty in places. I didn’t feel like anything had consequences or that anything that happened was really leading anywhere. It was more just a sequence of events that were cute. Brady and Nat’s relationship felt quite hollow at the start – it was written that they just had this amazing connection but we didn’t see that happen. We get a couple of lines of conversation and then a cut to later in the evening which was disappointing because I often think the starting conversations is where you start rooting for a couple. This definitely improved as the story progressed however and they arguably gained chemistry as the story progressed which often isn’t the case.
Some of the characters did feel a little hollow, but that did also improve as the story progressed. One thing it couldn’t shake was the empty feeling, especially at the end. It felt quite abrupt and like everything was shoved into the last few chapters but also not answering everything because I presume it leads into other books in the series despite no longer being directly about Brady and Nat.
I did really like the writing style and there were some funny moments. Once the relationship built it was really nice to read and the sex was very tastefully done.
Ultimately I enjoyed this, definitely missed the mark when it came to plot but the romance was sweet.
Collided by Anna Ray (N)
Star Rating: ⭐⭐
Review: This was so similar to the one before this in the series, if you asked me to pick them apart I don’t know if I could.
The writing was so cliche and so downright unbelievable in places that I had to put the book down. No one speaks in the way this was written, especially not some of the lines Luca said. It made everything feel forced and fake and took out so much enjoyment from the story.
I liked the idea of the romance but felt they lacked a connection out with lust. I wish they focused on it more, rather than it being an immediate attraction that didn’t seem to develop from common ground or conversation. Also, the sex was very unrealistic and rushed. It felt like it was shoved in for no reason and didn’t add anything.
But I did like the premise (other than it being a bit too similar to the last in the series)
So overall, not a great read in my opinion but definitely not the worst thing I have read.
Chasing Starlight by Emily Stormbrook (N)
Star Rating: ⭐⭐
Review: This book left me feeling meh…and also a little confused. So much seemed to happen and yet also nothing seemed to happen. It was the most bizarre situation.
I loved the premise, this girl with a big secret on the run for her life, destined to be mated to a man who only wants her for her power. Great idea right?
It had me so hooked. I thought it was a fun twist on the common shifter themes. The issue for me was that the novelty of this fun idea was run into the ground very quickly.
This was so so repetitive. Not just in the writing (where the mechanics of the mating system are explained repeatedly in almost every chapter) but also in the fact that Sirona’s special snowflake-ness is constantly changing. It always goes someone is after her for whatever reason, they catch her, she is magically saved by the fact that she isn’t that special thing…she’s a different special thing. And this happens again and again and again. It takes all the novelty out of her character if every time they get in a tough spot another part of her weird-hybridness happens to save or hinder them more for no apparent reason other than the fact it can because it’s FANTASY.
Then near the end of the book after all the saving and changing and saving and changing…she is exactly in the same position she was at the start of the book – but this time she is okay with it because she has a mate she loves now? What? Like no! A life of running cannot just be undone like that. It annoyed me so much.
I mentioned the writing was repetitive in places, there were also some odd POV changes that made it slightly hard to follow but other than that it was decently written.
Like I said, I adored the concept. The characters weren’t anything special but they also were not bad by any means. There were a couple of things I felt left things open but this is part of a series so that could potentially be why.
Overall, not the worst thing I’ve read and definitely had promise but just got too repetitive for me.
The Rebound by Bruce Lassiter (N)
Star Rating: ⭐
Review: Usually, I am a big fan of short romances (novellas or shorter-length novels) but this just missed the mark for me. Some of the wording of things was weird and made me feel kind of uncomfortable reading it. It also felt very bity or patch-work-esque because there were large time skips in the story. It has no flow to it and it made it harder to follow. It also meant you didn’t connect with the characters because big parts of their relationship were skipped.
The way sex and relationships were dealt with was also very bizarre. In YA novels it is often that you get the build-up to sex, so you can get more of the emotional connection between the characters. But in this case, that was the part that was skipped and you just got mid-sex thoughts that were very jarring because of the sudden shift from what was just a normal conversation or something. It again meant that you didn’t connect with the characters because you didn’t get to see the change in their relationship.
The one redeeming feature of this book was that the friendship between Sandy and Allen actually read very genuinely. I don’t think it translated to a dating relationship very well but their friendship was rendering and believable.
Overall, not for me because it did make me feel a little uncomfortable in places.
Still Beating by Jennifer Hartmann
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Review: This was really good. Definitely a dark romance but such an interesting and unique take on the typical kidnapper romance. I hadn’t read anything like this before which made it so gripping and intriguing. I could not put it down. I finished it in one sitting. This managed to find a great balance between tackling the mental toll of the situation and the aftermath without being too bogged down by the thoughts and feelings.
The characters were fun and I really liked their banter that we saw in the flashbacks. You could really see how they truly had been meant for each other all along but just kept missing each other and I think that element of “destiny” added a fun aspect to their romance.
The last section of the book (Cora’s part again) was a little duller than the first but it would have been almost impossible to continue that type of action the entire pace of the book. The second part (Dean’s) was probably my favourite. I enjoyed his thoughts the most and while I enjoyed the way the book was split I think I would have preferred having some of the basement part from his point of view so we could understand an element of the trauma we see him experience in his part more.
Overall it was very gripping read. Definitely dark and triggering and not for the faint of heart but the romance itself was so so heartwarming and sweet and I totally never shed a tear…totally…(Okay I did, it was at 88%!! I was so close to having made it through without crying but it was just too damn sweet to cope okay!!)
But yeah, definitely recommend this if you want to read a kidnapping romance with a sweet and heartwarming twist.
A Nordic King by Karina Halle
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Review: I liked this. It was a quick read with a decent slow-burn romance. Usually kids or single parent tropes in romances aren’t something I like to read or gravitate towards but this sounded like a fun twist on the typical by having that royal angle rather than just the mundane. Plus, overall the kids actually were quite funny in this and I didn’t find myself hating them (which is sometimes the case). I loved the Age Gap of it as well because I am a sucker for that trope at the moment.
Snarf Snarf was my favourite character easily.
I liked the characters’ backstories but felt like Aurora’s was underwhelming for the large reveal and deal that it was turned into in comparison to the King’s which seemed far more scandalous but got very little air-time in the end of the story.
I enjoyed the writing for most of the story but found that near the end that it changed to start addressing the reader more (and at one point does so directly) which was quite bizarre since it hadn’t been occurring until the last few chapters. Nothing wrong with it per say – just a little jarring.
The smut was very very good. A nice amount of spicy whilst still remaining rather romantic overall.
I enjoyed the humour and the characters general back-and-forth banter.
Overall I enjoyed it but it didn’t blow me away. I would say a 3.5 star rating for this because it doesn’t quite measure up to the other 4 star books I have reviewed this week but it was still a fun and enjoyable read if you are in the mood for a quirky take on the boss/employee romance trope.
Anyone but Cade by Penelope Bloom
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Review: I’m torn on this because Penelope Bloom’s writing is amazing, like seriously might have found a new favourite. I was laughing on nearly every page. Cade was hilarious but I loved the way he thought about things and his brain wrapped itself around sayings and things. He was the definition of witty.
Something about his character felt so effortless and it was the amazing writing that kept you feeling that way because he was always in character – every action was so Cade that it couldn’t not feel real and effortless.
On the downside, the plot bored me a little…similarly with the romance. It just felt lacking. It seemed like there was only sex between them, there was no deeper connection other than the fact they used to date and they “saw the real them” which is the worst cop-out for a romance ever. Give them common ground, a shared hobby – hell even two unrelated hobbies that are weird so they b0nd over how they’re always made fun of for their hobbies! I don’t know – literally anything to make them feel like they have a real relationship connection.
I’m giving this a 3 star because I adored the writing and the characters individually, but the romance fell so flat and the plot was obvious and a little anti-climactic.
Play for Me by Tam DeRudder Jackson (N)
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Review: This book was meh. It wasn’t bad but it also didn’t blow me away. Usually, I am very opinionated when it comes to a book. But with this, I finished it a couple of hours ago now and it’s not really impacted me at all. It’s not bad enough to insight rage or anger towards it but also it wasn’t anything special that made me enjoy it necessarily.
I am a lover of band romances or music in a plot in general so the fact this left me feeling so bland was a real disappointment. I definitely think this had promise. The writing was enjoyable and had some funny moments. The friendships between Clio and her sorority girls were well-written and relatable. The romance was sweet with the occasional spicy bit to mix it up which I enjoyed. The plot would have been more enjoyable if it wasn’t all spelled out in the blurb. Nearly the entire plot was given away in the blurb and it took away from some of the excitement and anticipation of their intermittent reunions when the blurb tells you it happens.
The characters themselves didn’t really blow me away either. They were quite flat but also not so dull or irritating that I found them hard to read. They just felt like they lacked depth in the way that nothing existed outwith the main plot devices. I wish we just had some quirky scenes of them just being them, especially in Clio’s case because so much of her development and story hinged on the fact her parents never “liked her for her”, but it’s hard to appreciate that plotline when as the reader we don’t feel like we know her very well either.
So overall, you can probably tell this wasn’t a great read in my opinion, but also it wasn’t terrible. If you have a spare day and want a rockband-based romance, I would pick this up but it probably won’t blow you away or change your life – but it might brighten your day.
So these are the some of the books that I felt like I didn’t have enough to say a full review on but still wanted to share my thoughts. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed having the mini reviews back. I also hope you are having a great weekend and I will see you tomorrow! Have a great day ❤