Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)

Posted May 29, 2022 by Kim in Reviews / 1 Comment

Reviewing the Unreviewed

I read — and didn’t review — so many books in January that I needed to break them up into two posts. My reading during the second half of January was complicated. I read some of my favorites of the year so far, but I also DNF’d quite a few books. Onto the recap!

Fair warning — some of these reviews will be really short. Like, shorter than the book’s blurb short. It might look a little weird, but I want to keep my review archive with Ultimate Book Blogger going, so bear with me.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: November 9, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback
How I got it: From the publisher
My rating:

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.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Thoughts

I have so many thoughts about The Wedding Ringer, but I’m also still processing so it’ll be a little while before I get them all out. But, for now, let me say this book was fantastic. It also skirted the line between women’s fiction and romance. I don’t mind, but it’s definitely light on the romance. Friendship, both past and present, is the real star of the story here. I got emotional several times during this book and every time it involved the friendship breakup or the bourgeoning friendship between Willa and Maisie. I felt several scenes very deeply and suspect anyone who has ever gone through a breakup with a friend will relate as well.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)The Belle and the Beard by Kate Canterbary
Series: The Santillian Triplets #3
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: April 23, 2021
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: eBook
How I got it: Kindle Unlimited
My rating:

Jasper-Anne Cleary’s guide to salvaging your life when you find yourself publicly humiliated, out of work, and unemployable at 35—not to mention newly single:

1. Run away. Seriously, there’s no shame in disappearing. Go to that rustic old cottage your aunt left you. Look out for the colony of bats and the leaky roof. Oh, and the barrel-chested neighbor with shoulders like the broad side of a barn. Definitely look out for him.

2. Stop wallowing and stay busy. It doesn’t matter whether you know how to bake or fix things around the house. Do it anyway. Dust off your southern hospitality and feed that burly, bearded neighbor some pecan pie.

3. Meet new people. Chat up the grumpy man-bear, pretend to be his girlfriend when his mother puts you two on the spot, agree to go as his date to a big family party. Don’t worry—it’s only temporary.

4. Cry it out. Screwing up your life entitles you to wine, broody-moody music, and uninterrupted sobbing.

5. Get over it all by getting under someone. Count on your fake boyfriend to deliver some very real action between the sheets.

6. Move on. The disappearing act, the cottage, the faux beau—none of it can last forever.

Linden Santillian’s guide to surviving the invasion when a hell-in-heels campaign strategist moves in next door:

1. Do not engage. There is no good reason you should chop her wood, haul her boxes, or pick her apples.

2. Do not accept gifts, especially not the homemade ones. Disconnect the doorbell, toss your phone over a bridge, hide in the basement if you must, but do not eat her pie.

3. Do not introduce her to your friends and family. They’ll favor her over you and never let you forget it.

4. Do not intervene when she’s crying on the back porch. Ignore every desire to fix the entire world for her. By no means should you take her into your arms and memorize her peach-sweet curves.

5. Do not take her to bed, even if it’s just to get her out of your system.

6. Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with her.

My Thoughts

It’s a bummer to DNF my first 12 reads 12 friends rec of 2022, but I’m just not feeling The Belle and the Beard. I know that’s an unpopular opinion, but it’s mine. I made it to 45% before admitting I was bored and skimming instead of reading. And worst of all, I’ve not connected with either character. So, it’s time to move on.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake
Series: Bright Falls #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: February 22, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Thoughts

My immediate reaction when I finished Delilah Green Doesn’t Care was that I wanted to scream “OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO READ IT” from the top of every building. If I’m being honest, I’ve not moved very far beyond that in the months since I finished. I loved this book so, so much. It’s difficult to articulate why. Sunshine and the grump is a favorite trope and it was made even better here when mixed with the reuniting of old friends (or is it foes?). I adored both Claire and Delilah and loved how their story unfolded against the backdrop of wedding insanity. The way that Delilah bonded with Claire’s preteen daughter Ruby hit me in all of my feels, too. This book is the total package. As soon as it was released, I bought the audiobook because I know this is one I’ll want to read again.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Genres: Fiction
Publication date: May 25, 2021
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Steven Rowley
How I got it: From the library
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.

My Thoughts

The Guncle is absolutely not the type of fiction I tend to gravitate towards — y’all know I’m a romance reader at heart — but I am so, so glad I picked this one up after it came highly recommended from some of my favorite readers. It was an extraordinary book that sent me spiraling through all of my emotions. I laughed, I cheesy grinned and I absolutely sobbed my heart out. Wonderful. As an added bonus, the audiobook is read by the author and he does an amazing job bringing the story to life.

Favorite Quotes

“Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.”

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)Sweethand by N.G. Peltier
Series: Island Bites #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: May 27, 2021
Publisher: Dreamscape Media LLC
Format: Audio Listening Copy
Narrator: Chrystal Bethell
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry-chef business. When her younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down, and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying.

Cherisse tries to humor her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. It turns out that, for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister and he’s the best man to her maid of honor.

Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him, she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends, he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together. When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day without this turning into a recipe for disaster.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Thoughts

I know I talk an awful lot about DNFs but Sweethand is technically a DNS (did not start). One of my most-trusted reader pals recently attempted to read it and after I chatted with her a little bit about it, I decided it likely wasn’t going to be a Kim book. Since I received a review copy, I wanted to at least acknowledge my decision not to read it. FWIW: it was her feedback on the dialogue, not-so-great narrator and “meh” romance that made me decide to opt-out.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication date: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Listening Library
Format: Audio Listening Copy
Narrator: Leiana Bertrand
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

Lila Castro is ready to take on her last winter break of high school. The snow is plentiful, the mood is full of holiday cheer, and she's earning extra cash working at the cozy local inn. But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss's frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Veracruz, becomes her coworker. When they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they both realize they've been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets--and a dash of holiday spirit--bring them closer to love?

Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Thoughts

I’ve been trying to get through The Holiday Switch off and on for the entire month of January. I think it’s finally time to admit it isn’t working for me. The idea was super cute and had promise, but the main character was driving me up a wall. I found her way too uptight and it made her unlikable. It felt like she was always lecturing someone. It’s a shame, too, because I’ve enjoyed other books by this author in the past and I really did like some of the family aspects of the story.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo
Series: Journey to the Heart #2
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: September 4, 2017
Publisher: Pocket Star
Format: eARC
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

When an entrepreneur and an army reservist end up in their own reality show fauxmance, they have to decide whether their love exists just for the cameras ... or if it's for real in this warmhearted romance, perfect for foodies and wine lovers!

Bryn Aquino, the former manager of a Filipino restaurant, knows the value of hard work. With a shiny new MBA in tow and an investor, she's ready to start her own business: a culinary retreat where visitors can relax, cook, and enjoy life's simple pleasures. Dubbed Paraiso Retreats, she leases the childhood home of army reservist Mitchell Dunford--who returned from Afghanistan to revive his family's vineyard--but finds herself in a bind when her investor pulls out of the business.

When the retreat catches an internet live stream producer's eye through social media channels, Bryn is offered the opportunity of a lifetime--to document her journey in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Excited, Bryn happily agrees to the arrangement ... only to find out that she's going to have to fake an onscreen romance with her indifferent landlord in order to keep her audience interested.

As Mitchell and Bryn put on a show for the cameras, they find their romance isn't hard to fake. They've got more in common under their bluster, banter, and doubts. As their relationship heats up and the cameras keep rolling, the line between show and reality blurs. And when the pressures of family, business, and the audience stack against them, will their romance survive internet stardom? Or was it just for show?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Thoughts

I felt bad DNFing two of this author’s books back-to-back, but I just wasn’t feeling East in Paradise either. In fairness, I’d basically been trying to get into it/through it since before its release back in 2017. Why did I continue to try so hard? Because I loved the first book in this series. I just couldn’t connect to this one in the same way so I think called it quits.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: January 11, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.

In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.

Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Thoughts

I spent an entire weekend savoring Weather Girl because I just was not ready for it to end. It was an utter delight and oh so charming. A weather girl and sports reporter team up to play matchmaker to spark a second chance for their bosses and wind up falling for each other in the process? Sign me up. Workplace romances aren’t always my jam — especially if there’s a power dynamic where the man holds power over the woman — but this one fit the bill just perfectly. I’m all for a good romance between colleagues. Weather Girl checked all of my boxes and delivered a great romance with some steam, plenty of feels and excellent mental health rep.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2022 (Part II)Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Series: Loose Ends #2
Genres: Erotic Romance
Publication date: October 4, 2019
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Antony Ferguson
How I got it: From the library
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

She just wanted to claim her inheritance. What she got was a husband…

Xeni Everly-Wilkins has ten days to clean out her recently departed aunt’s massive colonial in Upstate New York. With the feud between her mom and her sisters still raging even in death, she knows this will be no easy task, but when the will is read Xeni quickly discovers the decades old drama between the former R&B singers is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Secrets, lies, and a crap ton of cash spilled on her lawyer’s conference room table all come with terms and conditions. Xeni must marry before she can claim the estate that will set her up for life and her aunt has just the groom in mind. The ruggedly handsome and deliciously thicc Scotsman who showed up at her aunt’s memorial, bagpipes at the ready.

When his dear friend and mentor Sable Everly passed away, Mason McInroy knew she would leave a sizable hole in his heart. He never imagined she’d leave him more than enough money to settle the debt that’s keeping him from returning home to Scotland. He also never imagined that Sable would use her dying breaths to play match-maker, trapping Mason and her beautiful niece in a marriage scheme that comes with more complications than either of them need.

With no choice but to say I do, the unlikely pair try to make the best of a messy situation. They had no plans to actually fall in love.

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest, DNFing Xeni was not an easy decision. I truly was enjoying Xeni and Mason’s marriage of convenience story SO MUCH. Their chemistry was A+. I loved that they were able to be open and vulnerable with each other.

So why did I finally decide to tap out? Erotic romance isn’t my jam. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-written sexy scene, but I also have boundaries. Some might consider me old or prudish and that’s okay. Erotic romance can be a lot for me to handle when reading print or an ebook, but it’s even harder when it’s audio. But if you enjoy erotic romance, you should check this book out. This is definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.

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Let’s Chat

Have you read any of these books?
Any faves?

Kim

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