contemporary · haters to lovers · kindle unlimited · romance · sports

Cold Hearted by Winter Renshaw

♥♥ 3 Icy Stars ♥♥

As per my rating, I have mixed feelings about this one. It’s a hockey romance, which is one of my favorite subcategories in sports romance, but I there was just too much going on that I wasn’t in love with.

Okay, so Rhett is hot, talented, and (hot) tempered — but he’s got a heart of ice (see what I did there?). His best friend, Ayla’s half-brother, recently died and the circumstances of his death leave Rhett hating his guts. When he meets Ayla, she knows how he feels, but doesn’t tell him who she is. They start getting together, and soon it turns into something more than just a fling. Ayla is (usually) honest, humble, and not materialistic. She has reservations for not telling Rhett who she is, and when he finally does, things go south real quick. He basically tells her to get the hell out of his life and she moves across the country. They don’t see each other for another year and a half, and eventually start hooking up again — well, more like hate-fucking, but you get it.

One of my biggest frustrations with this book was Ayla’s (dis)honesty. The author kept bringing up how she never lies, and values transparency so much, blah, blah, blah. And yet…she has no hesitation or trouble lying about her relation to her brother. How does that stay true to her character? We’ve only been told that she’s honest, and her friend is so shocked because Ayla always tells the truth, even when it’s hard. But we never see that, like ever, and it drives me crazy.

The other thing that I just couldn’t really get with is the jump in the timeline. I think it would have worked a whole lot better if the first part was used more for reference, or the fight was the opening scene to set the stage for the second part. It just seemed like I was reading a two-part series in the span of one book, so there wasn’t enough room for the plot to build as much or for me to get to know the characters enough to feel invested in them.

 

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kindle unlimited · new adult · romance · suspense

Caveman by Jo Raven

♥♥ 2.5 Rugged Stars ♥♥

And yet another book that left me wanting recently. Matt, a hot single dad hires Tati to nanny for his kids. Tati is straight out of high school and barely legal. She’s naive, loving, and selfless. Matt lost his wife a few years before this story takes place, and he still hasn’t really dealt with losing her. He’s angry and gruff, and everyone in the town he just moved to thinks he’s a total dick.

After Tati starts working for him, however, Matt starts coming home to threatening messages stabbed onto his front door. He doesn’t know what they mean or who’s sending them, and the local police are less than helpful. One thing that bothered me with this was how neither Tati nor the kids heard anything; if someone rammed a knife through a solid door, I’d like to think that I’d notice that. It also felt like these messages kept getting brushed under the rug by everyone involved — Matt, Tati, even the police. How is it that a knife in someone’s door isn’t seen as a serious threat? Especially when other things start happening, no one thinks to connect the occurrences, and it drove me crazy.

I also struggled with Matt and Tati’s relationship. I’m all for age gaps, but this one was hard for me to swallow; Tati literally just graduated high school. How does she know what she wants to do with her life yet? How does Matt see her as mature enough to be equally paired with him? Sure, she’s good with kids and grew up taking care of her siblings, but that’s only one aspect of her development. I just don’t like that she would be willing to limit her future for someone she’s only known a couple months. Also, this could just be me, but I think 18-year-olds still look like babies, so idk how I feel about that.

contemporary · haters to lovers · romance

Captain by Lauren Rowe

♥♥ 3 Stars ♥♥

I wanted to like this one. It had so much promise. But I just can’t do the whole insta-love thing. Tessa meets Ryan under false pretenses at a bar, and yet from the moment Ryan saw her, he knew he had to have her. He knew that she was it for him, and he didn’t want to let her leave without him. When his crazy ex storms into the bar, yelling at him (and Tessa), Tessa slips out before he can explain what’s going on or get her number.

I guess I just don’t like insta-love. Ryan is sexy, tatted, and confident. He knows what he wants and is willing to work for it. But there’s something about a capable man who hands his balls over to a girl the moment he meets her that’s just too unbelievable to me. It just takes so much of his sexiness away; like how do you enjoy the chase when he’s ready to propose the first night? Anyway. The two end up running into each other at a wedding, and things get steamy. Ryan lets her think they’re just having a fling, but he’s in it to put a ring on her.

It’s a sweet story, just not for me. Knowing that Ryan was in love with Tessa from the start detracted a lot of the sexual tension for me, so while it was hot, I wasn’t that invested in it.

contemporary · kindle unlimited · romance · sports

The Wall of Winnipeg by Mariana Zapata

♥♥ 5 Melt-Your-Heart Stars ♥♥

Okay, so this might be my favorite book by Ms. Zapata so far, although Kulti might be tied with this one. Excuse me for a second while I fangirl over Aiden…

Aiden, aka the “Wall of Winnipeg” is a huge, hot, incredibly sweet (when he’s not biting your head off) famous football player. When his housekeeper/assistant, Vanessa, quits on him to pursue her own dreams (and because he can be a world-class jerk), he comes chasing after her to make her return. He doesn’t have the best social skills, which lead to some interesting dialogue.

“I was going to murder his ass. One day. One day long after I quit, so no one would suspect me.”

Even though Vanessa kind of hates him, he’s pretty hard to not swoon over.

“He was lucky I had a tiny, itty, bitty crush o him; otherwise, he would have gotten the shank years ago.”

Vanessa and Aiden eventually agree to a marriage of convenience for his immigration, and I just fell in love with them.

“He couldn’t be my sugar daddy is we were legally married, right?”

In true fashion of the author, there was no instant chemistry or over-the-top lust, but as they got to know each other and became comfortable in their situation, their characters just melted my heart. Aiden killed me so many times with how much he noticed everything about her, even though he didn’t show it. He was really thoughtful and supportive, and I loved how Vanessa put him in his place so many times.

So yeah, one of the best books I’ve read recently and definitely recommend!

college · new adult · romance

My Roommate’s Girl by Julianna Keyes

♥♥ 3 Steal-Your-Girl Stars ♥♥

**Arc provided in exchange for honest review**

I really liked the premise of this book, and hoped that I would like it a lot more than I actually did. It was a light, flirty read with some good plot twists, so I at least wasn’t bored with it.

Aiden is a college student in a second-chance program that allows him to go through school and work. He’s pretty cocky and the second he meets his roommate’s girlfriend, Aster, he wants her. It’s not exactly insta-love, but it’s kind of like an undercover insta-love if that makes any sense. Aster is happy with her relationship, so I was a little thrown off by Aiden chasing her so hard, but the plot doesn’t make me hate Aiden too much. I also really liked Aster; she was down to earth, determined, and caring. She has baggage of her own, and both Aster and Aiden had some solid character development.

It’s hard for me to put my finger on why I wasn’t in love with this book; maybe it was the writing style, maybe it was the timeline of the plot, or maybe it was just some of the decisions they made. Overall, it was a fast read but not something that stayed with me after I finished it.

 

contemporary · romance

Where I Need To Be by Jamie Hollins

♥♥ 3.5 Fresh-Start Stars ♥♥

This was a fun read, but for some reason, I just didn’t click with it that much. It was cute, and I liked the characters, but it was just a little hard for me to connect to the hero/heroine. Overall, the story was still really cute and worth the read if you’re in the mood for something light and sweet.

Megan is starting her life over after finding her real estate mogul husband cheating on her, and she’s starting over with basically no money to her name. She meets James Foley after buying a clunker car that needs some serious work. And let me tell you, James is a hot mechanic. He’s tall, ripped, and a single dad. I’m all for the whole hot single dad, so this was a bonus for me. 😉

James is so much more than just a hot mechanic, though. He’s trying to raise his son by himself and run his car shop after his wife became addicted to heroin and destroyed their marriage. Megan is James’s son’s teacher, and to be honest, this part of the plot made me nervous. I’ve never been a fan of the teacher-gets-with-parent-of-the-student romance but Ms. Hollins played (wrote?) the part very well. I really liked Megan’s character; she’s independent, committed, and strong.

She’s a second-grade teacher who really hasn’t struggled in life at all until her divorce. She’s nervous to tell her family about her relationship issues, and this is one of the main things that bothered me in the book. It just seemed like this was something that turned out to be a major issue in the book and it really didn’t have to be.

Megan and James were super cute together, though. They’re both not in their twenties, which I don’t see that much, but I really liked it and you can really see their maturity. Their relationship takes some time to develop into something serious, but the timeline is believable and authentic. Oh, and the sexual tension was great and the sex scenes were smokin’ hot.

 

contemporary · erotic · romance · suspense

Alone Before You by Claire Scott

♥♥ 4 Tense Stars ♥♥

This is the first installment of a series, so be ready to invest yourself when you pick this up! I haven’t dived into a series in a while, and I’m definitely glad I read this one. Gwen is twenty-five years old and on the run from her past. Her home life was a little less than stellar, to put it mildly, and she’s constantly afraid that it’ll catch up to her. Needless to say, she has trust issues and has never stayed in one location long enough to make connections with people until now.

I thought the first part of the book moved a little slowly, with it consisting mostly of Gwen’s inner dialogue and commentary. However, once she meets Colt, things start picking up in pace and the writing flows much better. Colt is really fucking hot if you’re into a subtle dominant male. Contradictory, I know, but Colt doesn’t have to make big power plays for Gwen to see he means business. He’s ready to claim Gwen as his, but given her past, she’s skittish and scared. She doesn’t want to put any trust in anyone besides herself and this is something she has to work through in this book.

The sex scenes are smoking hot, and almost make the read worth it for that alone. I loved the tension between these two, and the secondary characters actually had some depth that you don’t always see. And Colt is basically my wet dream, so there’s that.

I’m excited to see where the plot goes with Gwen’s relationship with Colt, as well as with everything going on from her past. I kind of felt like the ending was a little abrupt, and I thought that there could’ve been a little more suspense than what was there, but overall I really enjoyed this book and will definitely continue reading the rest of the series.

**ARC generously provided by author in exchange for honest review**