Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)

Posted May 31, 2022 by Kim in Reviews / 1 Comment

Reviewing the Unreviewed

I’m going to be all rewieved out before I get caught up on these, but let’s move on to March! Here’s hoping past Kim did a better job of putting literally ANY review on Goodreads in March than she did in January or February. This is going to be another two-parter for the sake of my sanity!

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: March 2022 (Part I)Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
Series: Bellinger Sisters #2
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: March 1, 2022
Publisher: HarperAudio
Format: Audio Listening Copy
Narrator: Lauren Sweet
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he's a guaranteed good time--in bed and out--and that's exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She's immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his... personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah's in town for work, crashing in Fox's spare bedroom. She knows he's a notorious ladies' man, but they're definitely just friends. In fact, she's nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport's resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker's eye... yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can't deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she's walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and... and... man overboard! He's fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he's all in, she'll choose him instead?

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’m still having a tough time articulating my feelings about Hook, Line and Sinker. Historically, I’ve been a big fan of Tessa Bailey’s books, but I’ve struggled with some of her more recent releases. I think maybe it’s a change in my reading preferences and not her writing. I’ve realized I’m not as into the whole (damn near stalkerish) alpha and the simpering woman as I used to be. Plus, where I always used to consider her to be the queen of dirty talk, I’ve found that lacking in recent books. Oh, it’s still there… but it’s been the absolute opposite of sexy to me in her recent releases. Instead of fanning myself, I cringe.

I did have some issues with Hook, Line and Sinker. The biggest one is how Fox referred to Hannah as “girl” for the entire book. She’s a grown-ass woman. This is something that’s been bugging me more and more in books and songs and it jumps off the page (or out of the audio) for me. I also didn’t love how much of Fox’s backstory involved being overly sexualized from a young age. In fairness, it is addressed and becomes a catalyst for some change in his character, but I thought it over the top.  All that said, it did have plenty of sweet and swoony moments and eventual heat — a slow burn from Tessa Bailey, what?! — and I did listen to a large part of it with a goofy grin on my face. I never thought I’d say this, but I like a lower heat level Tessa book. That and the swoons are what made this a 4 star read for me as it helped to offset some of the parts I struggled with.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)Kulti by Mariana Zapata
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: March 20, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: eBook
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.

It didn't take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she'd seen in the international soccer icon - why she'd ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn't known she'd existed. So she isn't prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team's season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he'd once been.

My Thoughts

Would you believe this is my eleventh time reading Kulti?  This story and these characters literally never get old. Sal and Rey’s enemies to friends to lovers is the best and it hits me in the feels every time. And Sal’s dad? Freaking amazing. If there was an award for all-time best supporting character in romance, he should absolutely win it. He’s too pure for words. I could go on and on and on about this book, but I’ll spare you. If a slow burn (and I do mean S L O W burn) enemies to friends to lovers sports romance sounds like your jam, you need to read this. If you need more convincing, you can always check out my OG review.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)The Best Man Plan by Jaci Burton
Series: Boots and Bouquets #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: July 7, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

Three days before Erin Bellini's wedding, her fiancé breaks up with her--in an email! Hurt and embarrassed, she decides to have a fling with veterinarian Jason Callum, who's both the best man and the hottest guy she knows. But Jason wants a lot more than just a one-night stand with the woman he's cared about for years. So he's taking things slow. And hot. And showing Erin what real love can look like.

Suddenly Erin finds herself spending a lot more time with Jason than she intended. Feelings she never planned on having again are wrapping around her heart, refusing to let go. Erin isn't sure she can trust her instincts, though. After all, she made a terrible choice with her ex-fiancé. But Jason intends to convince her that he's the best man for her, and that what they have together is a real love that will last forever.

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 extremely mixed feelings about this book. I know the main female character got a lot of flack from other reviewers because she was unlikable and I agree to an extent. But, I didn’t dislike her. An unlikeable main character isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker to me. I did love the main male character, so I think he carried some of the story for me. Their chemistry wasn’t jumping off the page, but again, I was invested in the story. I will admit I did skim a little because the pacing was off for me. There’s a slight chance I was just reading waiting for the “big moment” that made everything click into place for me. Instead of that, I got a “big moment” that almost made me hurl the book off of my balcony.

Which big moment is that you might ask? Well, it was when her ex revealed why he broke off their engagement two days before their wedding. I don’t like sneaky cancer in books. I especially don’t like sneaky cancer when it’s on page 304 of 338. I know I shouldn’t judge how someone reacts to finding out such news but pulling away from all of your family and friends? Breaking off your engagement with no explanation? Seeking treatment with no support? It just didn’t work for me. That combined with how the main female character’s behavior changed just hit me in all the wrong ways. I was honestly tempted to DNF. But, I pushed through and I’m mostly glad I did. The ending was satisfying, but it still didn’t totally make up for the stuff up for the surprise cancer.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)Clutch by Lisa Becker
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: Paperback
How I got it: From the author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

She’s looking for the perfect match. He shrugs off commitment. Will these best friends figure out they’ve got love in the bag?

Recently named a “40 under 40” by a prominent fashion magazine, Southern charmer and Harvard-educated Caroline Johnson spends her days building a successful handbag business and nights lamenting her nonexistent love life. Her intelligence and professional acumen are often disregarded because of her good looks, thick accent, and overly accommodating style. When Caroline’s Aunt Mimi points out that the “under 40” part won’t last forever, Caroline recognizes it’s time to start designing her personal life.

Mike (aka Michael Frederick Barnsworth III) was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and can trace his lineage to the founders of America’s first bank. Much to his family’s dismay, he refuses a corner office at the Barnsworth Brokerage Firm, instead using his Harvard education to open a bar. Irreverent and flirtatious, Mike seems content to engage in one-night stands while listening to Caroline’s dating woes.

Much like the right accessory, Caroline knows her partner needs to be perfectly matched, so she endures a series of disastrous relationships she compares to styles of handbags: the “Hobo” or starving artist; the “Diaper Bag” or single dad; the “Briefcase” or intense businessman, etc. while searching for the “Clutch.” And Mike starts to wonder if having a different woman hanging off his arm every weekend is really a fulfilling lifestyle.

Will Caroline heed her Aunt Mimi’s advice to “find something you love and hold onto it” and will Mike recognize he’s worthy of being clutched?

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 had high hopes for this book, even though it’s been sitting on my shelves for literal years at this point, but it really only took two chapters before I decided it wasn’t for me. It might be my mood but regardless, it wasn’t working for me. The dialogue was too stilted and the characters were working my nerves. I skipped to the end briefly to see if my hunch was correct and it was. That’s when I decided to DNF. I felt like it was going to be too much back and forth with unnecessary drama when the right answer was literally right there all along.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe
Series: Uptown Girls #3
Genres: Historical Romance
Publication date: June 30, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Justine Eyre
How I got it: From the library
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

Manhattan kingpin.
Brilliant mastermind.
Gentleman gangster.

He's built a wall around his heart...

Orphaned and abandoned on the Bowery's mean streets, Jack Mulligan survived on strength, cunning, and ambition. Now he rules his territory better than any politician or copper ever could. He didn't get here by being soft. But in uptown do-gooder Justine Greene―the very definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove―Jack may have met his match.

She wears hers on her sleeve...

Justine is devoted to tracking down deadbeat husbands and fighting for fair working conditions. When her mission brings her face-to-face with Jack, she's shocked to find the man behind the criminal empire is considerably more charming and honorable than many "gentlemen" she knows.

Forming an unlikely alliance, they discover an unexpected desire. And when Justine's past catches up with them, Jack may be her only hope of survival. Is she ready to make a deal with the devil...?

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 can always count on Joanna Shupe for a good time. The Devil of Downtown was no exception. I love this series with its kinda morally gray men and strong, feisty women. The women especially feel like they are well ahead of their time and I’m always down for a dose of feminism when I read romance. I loved Jack and Justine so much. Their chemistry, the banter, all of it. Justine Eyre’s narration was also fantastic. I loved how she brought these characters and their story to life.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)Every Summer After by Carley Fortune
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: May 10, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Format: ARC
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

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 loved Every Summer After. It was exactly the book I needed when I read it. if you’re a fan of messy second chances romances, particularly those that are told in alternating timelines between then and now, this book needs to be on your TBR. It was angsty and emotional and made me cry more than once. It made me reflect upon some of the choices I’ve made in my own life. It totally broke me. But then as only the best and most memorable books do, it put me back together in a whole new way. I bought the audio and have every intention of rereading it sooner than later. Hopefully, I can be more articulate after I read it a second time. But honestly, you just need to read it.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed
Genres: Erotic Romance
Publication date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

Imagine a world where a woman’s every pleasure, every wish and wildest fantasy is granted by the man of her dreams…

Such a world exists inside the walls of Avalon, an elite private club that caters to women’s deepest desires. Billie Cort, a reporter from the raunchy magazine Illicit, has come to Avalon to interview the club’s most popular escort, the breathtakingly sexy Adrian.

Expecting nothing less from a place like Avalon, Billie is still stunned at how effortlessly Adrian brings out her sexual side. Adrian, too, is surprised to find himself thinking about Billie long after their interview is over. Adrian, of course, is irresistible, but Billie isn’t accustomed to being pursued by outrageously attractive male escorts. Adrian wants her, but soon realizes that she can fill a role in his life that’s more than just physical…

My Thoughts

I know in some of my recent reviews I’ve pointed out erotic romance is not my favorite thing on the bookish menu. The Fifth Favor proved it’s not ALL erotic romance. Apparently, I am quite capable of enjoying some erotic romance and this was one of them. And maybe even more surprisingly? This was a one-sitting read. Do you know how rare those are these days? I think it was a combination of the Washington DC setting, focus on women’s desires and the bit of mystery surrounding the death of a secondary character (which wasn’t one of my favorite parts, just so we’re clear). I couldn’t get enough of Billie and Adrian. The chemistry and tension and growth was *chefs kiss*. I’m so happy a friend recommended this to me years ago. I’d have likely never found it otherwise.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Publication date: December 5, 2000
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Paperback
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
My rating:

This time the gossip columnists have it wrong. London’s most elusive bachelor 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’s 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’s 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

Is it possible that I loved The Viscount Who Loved Me more the second time around than I did the first? I think that’s exactly what happened. Kate and Anthony give really, REALLY good enemies to lovers. The tension, their banter. Oh, so good. Anthony required a very special type of woman to balance him out and there’s no one more perfect than Kate. I had a grand old time rereading this while waiting for the second season of Bridgerton on Netflix. If you need a reason to read it, I’ll give you three — Newton, the Mallet of Death and the bee sting.

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Let’s Chat

Have you read any of these books?
Any faves?

Kim

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One response to “Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2022 (Part I)

  1. I enjoyed Clutch, but I can see why you didn’t like it. I don’t know if I’ll read Anthony’s Bridgerton book, I didn’t care for the tv story. But the book is always better, right? I know they’re skipping around in the series to do Colin’s season next, but his story is the one I’m most looking forward to. I bought the book, just need to read it before it comes out! Thanks for sharing your reviews! Oh yeah, I need to try more Tessa Bailey. The one I started was in 3rd person POV and that doesn’t always help me connect to the characters in a romance very quickly.
    https://lisalovesliterature.bookblog.io/