Review: Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau

Goodread

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

A baker provides the sweetest escape for an actor in this charming romantic comedy.

Actor Ryan Kwok is back in Toronto after the promotional tour for his latest film, a rom-com that is getting less-than-stellar reviews. After the sudden death of his mother and years of constant work, Ryan is taking some much-needed time off. But as he tries to be supportive to his family, he struggles with his loss and doesn’t know how to talk to his dad—who now trolls him on Twitter instead of meeting him for dim sum.

Innovative baker Lindsay McLeod meets Ryan when he knocks over two dozen specialty donuts at her bakery. Their relationship is off to a messy start, but there’s no denying their immediate attraction. When Ryan signs up for a celebrity episode of Baking Fail, he asks Lindsay to teach him how to bake and she agrees.

As Lindsay and Ryan spend time together, bonding over grief and bubble tea, it starts to feel like they’re cooking up something sweeter than cupcakes in the kitchen.

Review:

The first thing I had heard about this was that it was like Notting Hill with sweet treats and that’s all I needed to know before adding it to my TBR. Donuts and romance is basically all I need in my life and this delivered. I don’t know if it’s a trend in publishing or if I’ve just been seeing it more but romances with a side of grief have been working so well for me lately, maybe it’s the mix of depth and sweetness that strikes a perfect balance for me but whatever it is I’m loving it!

The Asian representation was so great here, specifically the discussion of Asian rep in the entertainment industry and seeing how Ryan dealt with this was so good. I loved Ryan and Lindsay together too, they had smoking hot chemistry and that translated to fireworks in the bedroom, the author brought the steam here phew 🥵 Ryan’s relationship with his father stole the show for me, I mean his dad trolls the hell out of him on Twitter and it was too funny. There was lots of exploration of family dynamics, again so much depth alongside a storyline about a celebrity baking competition so basically all I could want and then some. Read this if you like foodie romance, inclusive rep and some sexy heat!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Stolen Ones by Angela Marsons @bookouture @writeangie

Goodreads

Release date: November 11, 2021

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

25 years ago he took a girl. Today he takes another.
One August afternoon, eight-year-old Grace Lennard skips into the garden of the childcare centre she attends and vanishes into thin air.

Hours before, Steven Harte walks into Halesowen police station and confesses to having information that will lead Detective Kim Stone to Melody Jones – the little girl who was taken from a playground exactly twenty-five years ago. But something about his confession is off and Kim dismisses his claims.

Arriving at the scene of Grace’s disappearance, Kim finds a chilling piece of evidence: the heart bracelet belonging to Melody. Now Kim must play Steven’s twisted game if she is to find Grace alive. But they’re going to play by Kim’s rules.

With only twenty-four hours to make every second of Steven’s interrogation count, and scan his behaviour for hidden clues, Kim and her team soon link Steven to the abduction of several vulnerable girls – two were kept for a year and then released, unharmed – but where are Melody and the others?

Then small bones are discovered in the grounds of a local park, and Kim fears the worst.

Kim may be close to convicting a killer, but there’s another who wants revenge against her – Dr Alex Thorne – the evil woman Kim did her best to keep behind bars. Alex is about to reveal a shocking secret to Kim that will hit her where it hurts the most. And if Kim lets Alex mess with her head, she might not be able to save Grace and find the other missing girls in time.

An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will leave your heart in your mouth. You will be totally hooked on the utterly addictive, number one, multi-million-copy bestselling Detective Kim Stone series.

Review:

Ahh it feels SO good to be back with Kim and the team again but there is a downside to being reunited with the gang. Now it’ll be months before a new book is released so I’ll have to wait!! At book fifteen though maybe it’s time for a series reread while I’m impatiently waiting. 🤔 The whole series is so strong and each book separately is a powerful read so maybe I’m onto something…Anyhow, enough of my tangent but maybe my rambling has you intrigued about this series (hopefully!) and although I’ve said it fourteen times let’s make it fifteen, this is my new favorite Kim Stone book!

Have you ever read a crime novel where someone willingly drops into a police station to offer help as to information on a crime? I sure hadn’t and that wasn’t even the most original part of the plot here. So needless to say I was intrigued immediately and if you know an Angela Marsons book you know that the intrigue just keeps on building as you read, along with the tension too. Maybe you’re thinking that revealing the who in a thriller would be a bad move but you would be wrong because when you’re in the hands of an incredibly talented author like AM you know she will have not only a solid reason for letting a story unfold in a certain manner, but she’ll also have several tricks up her sleeve. Besides the unusual start you also have a deep look into interrogation techniques which was a facet of police work that I hadn’t given much thought before maybe besides the standard good cop/bad cop routine. Little did I know until reading this but there are so many things a suspect can reveal about themselves during an interview and things I never would’ve guessed. I don’t want to ramble on too much about that aspect but it was fascinating and per usual I learned something new due to the authors impeccable research. Before I wrap this up I always have to talk about the characters because while I loved everything about this book I adore the characters the most. While the Kim and Co. are incredible the subplot with Alex Thorne laid some seriously interesting groundwork for subsequent books and she’s the ultimate love to hate character for me. Overall another flawless read from one of the best, highly recommended!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle

Goodreads

Release date: December 28, 2021

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Everyone is about to know what her husband isn’t telling her…

Jade and Cam Lasky are by all accounts a happily married couple with two adorable kids, a spacious home and a rapidly growing restaurant business. But their world is tipped upside down when Jade is confronted by a masked home invader. As Cam scrambles to gather the ransom money, Jade starts to wonder if they’re as financially secure as their lifestyle suggests, and what other secrets her husband is keeping from her.

Cam may be a good father, a celebrity chef and a darling husband, but there’s another side he’s kept hidden from Jade that has put their family in danger. Unbeknownst to Cam and Jade, the home invader has been watching them and is about to turn their family secrets into a public scandal.

With riveting twists and a breakneck pace, My Darling Husband is an utterly compelling thriller that once again showcases Kimberly Belle’s exceptional talent for domestic suspense.

Review:

There’s a reason I’ll read anything KBelle writes and this book just solidifies that for me. Lately if I pick up a thriller I’ve been gravitating towards a domestic suspense and she’s basically the queen of the sub genre. A solid premise, a riveting plot, break neck speedy pacing and too much intensity to accurately describe makes this one of my fave thriller reads this year.

Part of the reason this one was so perfectly paced for me was that you get to hear from Jade right before the home invasion happens and during the terrifying ordeal, and then Cam both before and during as well BUT you also get pieces of an interview between him and a reporter after things end. So you don’t know how they end, you’re just aware the public response to his role was…not great, but that juicy addition was awesome. Oh! You also hear from Sebastion too, he’s the man holding Jade and her kids hostage. Never a dull moment here and I was so sucked in. Definitely a one sitting type of read, I was gripped and couldn’t wait to see how things turned out. A must read for thriller fans!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

Goodreads

Release date: November 9, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, Willa Callister was a successful blogger with a good credit score, actual hobbies, and legs that she shaved more than once a month. But after finding her fiancé in bed with her best friend, she now spends her days performing at children’s birthday parties in a ball gown that makes her look like a walking bottle of Pepto Bismol. Willa dreams of starting fresh, where no one knows who she used to be, but first she needs to save up enough money to make it happen.

Maisie Mitchell needs something too: another bridesmaid for her wedding. After a chance encounter at a coffee shop, Maisie offers to pay Willa to be in her bridal party. Willa wants nothing to do with weddings–or Maisie–but the money will give her the freedom to start the new life she so badly desires.

Willa’s bridesmaid duties thrust her into Maisie’s high-energy world and into the path of hotshot doctor Liam Rafferty. But as Willa and Maisie form a real friendship, and Liam’s annoyingly irresistible smile makes her reconsider her mantra that all men are trash, Willa’s exit strategy becomes way more complicated. And when a secret from Maisie’s past threatens to derail the wedding, Willa must consider whether friendship–and romance–are worth sticking around for.

Review:

There is something really special about reading a debut authors work and falling head over heels in love with it and that’s exactly what happened to me with this book. I’m so impressed this is a debut and am even a little disappointed that I can’t immediately devour the authors backlist, but hey now I can look forward to reading more from her. Since I loved everything about this one I’ll give you a list of exactly what I enjoyed so you can hopefully add it to your TBR too!

🌸 It’s much more than just a romance, it’s much deeper and more soulful as Willa is grieving, but it’s not the usual type of grief, so it’s unique.

🌸Willa’s personality had me thinking we would be great friends in real life, she’s super sarcastic and witty and I was rooting for her from page one.

🌸If a book has anything to do with a sister relationship I’m alllll in and Sarah and Willa had the best bond. Sometimes it’s nice to read about fairly simple family dynamics and these two were the best.

🌸A fake bridesmaid plot was a new one for me, did y’all know hiring a professional bridesmaid is a thing?! But I loved it and Maisie was so adorable and quirky, you can’t help but love her.

🌸While the main focus is on Willa herself and her personal journey there is romance too in the form of Liam who was just great. Willa and him had good chemistry and he’s the sort of dependable yet sexy guy women wanna settle down with.

I could ramble on about this one because I loved it that much, but hopefully I’ve convinced you already, I promise it’s SO good!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan

Goodreads

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas getaway—a trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband. Her solution? Alix can take Christy’s little daughter to Lapland, and they will reunite there for Christmas Day. It’s a big ask, but what else are friends for?

There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy. But Christy’s request to save Christmas is giving Alix sleepless nights. She knows something is wrong, but for the first time ever, Christy isn’t talking. And even the Arctic temperatures in Lapland aren’t enough to dampen the seriously inconvenient sizzle Alix is developing for Zac, a fellow guest and nemesis from her past.

As secrets unravel and unexpected romance shines under the northern lights, can Christy and Alix’s Christmas escape give them the courage to fight for the relationships they really want, and save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?

Review:

The last two years I’ve read and adored the authors holidays releases, so I’ve definitely been eagerly awaiting her newest and I know I’m guaranteed a cozy and festive read. She has a magical way of creating the best Christmassy settings and her books always leave me with a sense of hope and warmth.

One of the best things about a SM book is you’re getting a mix of romance and female relationships and this time it’s a friendship between Christy and Alix as well as Christy and Seb’s marriage and Alix’s new potential romance with Zac. There’s also Robyn, Christy’s estranged aunt so there’s complicated family dynamics everywhere. Definitely a lot going on and plenty to keep you engaged, and of course there is also Christmas cheer in a beautiful setting. Rose Robinson is a delightful narrator and has a beautiful and melodic voice, she really swept me away and made the story that much more perfect. Add to your holiday TBR for sure!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Goodreads

Release date: October 19, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire — a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again… something that doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans — and open her heart — for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.

An accidentally in-love rom-com filled with Renaissance Faire flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Review:

After absolutely loving Well Met and then just sorta liking Well Played I definitely had mixed feelings going into this one. I’m so so happy to say that I really enjoyed this one and am also thrilled that it looks like a fourth book is in the works?!

This had two of my favorite tropes; fake dating and a reverse age gap so I was a happy little camper after reading just the synopsis. I’ve been so interested in both April and Mitch since book one, especially him I mean his kilt scenes stole the show for me 🥵 so getting to know more about them both was so fun. These two surprised me with their genuine support of each other almost from the start, they had each other’s backs and it was adorable. Their chemistry was believable and their story was both sweet and sexy, definitely a great addition to the series. Bring on book four!!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: No One Can Hear You Scream by A. B. Whelan

Goodreads

Release date: October 20, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

A ruthlessly addicting and terrifyingly twisted story of a family stuck on a secluded mountain at the mercy of an obsessed fan of the woman.

It started as a vacation of a lifetime.

Jennifer Parker is a successful YouTube influencer living in a beautiful home outside Los Angeles with her three children. After divorcing her husband of eighteen years, Jennifer dives right into a new relationship despite her children’s disapproval.

Jennifer’s boyfriend, Tyler, is a middle school English teacher and a mama’s boy. To prove to Jennifer that he can be as outdoorsy as her ex-husband, he suggests going on an off-the-grid vacation in a yurt in Montana. The idea of not having cell phone reception and running water for days doesn’t appeal to Jennifer. Reluctantly, she agrees to the trip because she envisions this unique retreat as an opportunity for her children to connect with her new boyfriend.

Jennifer’s subscribers are excited about following their favorite online vlogger on an adventure in the wilderness. But one follower sees her vacation as the perfect opportunity to get close to her and act out his twisted and sick fantasies.

Alone on the mountain, where no one can hear her scream, Jennifer realizes that it wasn’t the deep, dark woods she had to fear after all.

Review:

It’s not often that I’m truly shocked when I read a thriller but I definitely was here! This was such a tense, exciting read but it is NOT for anyone who doesn’t want to be scared out of their mind. It has a ton of triggers, seriously if you can think of disturbing subject matter it’s probably in this book but if you like dark and disturbing books this was really good. I do want to mention that there’s a particularly upsetting scene at the beginning involving extreme animal cruelty that really needs a warning.

This had such a great premise with a family on a trip in a super remote location, seriously nightmarish to me and that’s even before you add in a sick individual who wants to terrorize Jennifer and her family. It was very atmospheric and unsettling and I was truly gripped the whole time. I don’t wanna discuss the plot anymore but I definitely recommend this to the right reader, AKA anyone who can deal with highly disturbing content.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Release date: November 2, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

In this fast-paced thriller, Wanda M. Morris crafts a twisty mystery about a black lawyer who gets in over her head after the sudden death of her boss. A debut perfect for fans of Attica Locke, Alyssa Cole, Harlan Coben, and Celeste Ng, with shades of How to Get Away with Murder and John Grisham’s The Firm.

Everyone has something to hide…

Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive—her white boss, Michael.

But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael… and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head.

And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight—again.

But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace Michael. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.

When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined…

Review:

Well hello super impressive debut!! I love reading debut authors because you never quite now what to expect and the only thing better than reading a new author is being blown away by their first book. This one was good y’all, I think it will appeal to so many people because while it’s definitely a thriller it also has shades of a legal thriller and a hint of domestic suspense. It also explores race, sexism and being a woman in the workplace, it was so relevant and important and also totally entertaining, this one truly had it all. The less you know about this one the better off you are, just read this if you like fast paced and exciting thrillers that have depth. The narrator, Susan Dalian was also fantastic so I can highly recommend the audio as well but I’m sure it’s fantastic in any format.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: All the Feels by Olivia Dade

Goodreads

Release date: November 16, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, God of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

Review:

Last year I fell in love with Olivia Dade’s writing and Spoiler Alert was one of my favorite romances of the year so I was definitely very excited to read the follow up. Some of the elements that I loved so much in the first book were back again here; amazing representation including a heroine who isn’t described as stunningly beautiful but is instead an average woman, sex positivity and consent, body positivity and mental health issues. This was super sexy and also warm and witty, definitely the full package. The author lends such a vulnerability to her characters that makes them so relatable and I really liked both Alex and Lauren. Kelsey Narravo is a wonderful audiobook narrator, I’ve listened to several of her books and I’m a fan. She does an incredible job with this book as well so I highly recommend the audio version.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Fan Club by Erin Mayer

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

In this raucous psychological thriller, a millennial office worker finds relief from her crippling ennui in the embrace of a cliquey fan club, until she discovers the group of women is bound together by something darker than devotion.

Day after day our narrator, a gloomy millennial, searches for meaning beyond her vacuous job at a women’s lifestyle website—entering text into a computer system while she watches their beauty editor unwrap box after box of perfectly packaged bits of happiness. Then, one night at a dive bar, she hears a message in the newest single by child-actor-turned-international-pop-star Adriana Argento, and she is struck. Soon she loses herself to the online fandom, a community whose members feverishly track Adriana’s every move.

When a colleague notices the extent of her obsession, she’s invited to join an enigmatic group of adult Adriana superfans who call themselves the Ivies and worship her music in witchy, candlelit listening parties. As the narrator becomes more entrenched in the group, she gets closer to uncovering the sinister secrets that bind them together—while simultaneously losing her grip on reality.

With caustic wit and hypnotic writing, this unsparingly critical thrill ride through millennial life examines all that is wrong in our celebrity-obsessed internet age, and how easy it is to lose yourself in it.

Review:

Do you ever finish a book and wonder what in the hell you just read? And not in a good way? That’s what happened with me here. My whole experience with this book was bizarre, on the one hand I listened to it in a day so there was definitely something compulsive about it but on the other hand it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience. I really liked the premise and found the whole idea of being obsessed with a celebrity fascinating but something in the execution was lacking. The whole thing felt disjointed, I was missing a solid connection to the plot and the characters, the narrator is never named so I dont think that helped. I will say that had I read instead of listened to this I don’t think I would’ve finished so audio is the way to go but overall this was a miss for me.

Overall rating: 2/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.