Review: While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory (The Wedding Date #6)

While We Were DatingWhile We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While We Were Dating is the sixth book in Jasmine Guillory’s Adult Romance series, The Wedding Date.

If you are unfamiliar with this series, they are all companion novels with some connecting characters. You can read them in any order, or as standalones.

In this installment, we follow Ben Stephens, who is the younger brother of Theo Stephens, the leading man of The Wedding Party.

Ben, who is known as a bit of a ladies man, works for an ad agency. When he is sent to pitch an important ad campaign featuring movie star, Anna Gardiner, he’s nervous.

Turns out, he had nothing to worry about. Ben is charming and he knocks it out of the park; making a great first impression with Anna.

Anna is at a turning point in her career. She is popular and well-known, but she really wants to get to that next level.

She views this ad campaign as a great distraction while she waits for her latest movie to drop. She’s anxious about what the reception to her role will be, but she remains hopeful that amazing things will come from it.

After Ben’s company wins the campaign, Anna makes sure Ben is the lead on the project. He could be just the right kind of distraction she needs.

Anna generally doesn’t mix business with pleasure, but there’s always room for exceptions.

Due to an unusual set of circumstances, Ben and Anna spend quite a bit of one-on-one time together and their light flirty banter quickly evolves into something more.

As the two are forced into a bit of a fake-dating relationship in order to aide Anna’s image, the lines blur even further. Is it real, or is it not? It’s so hard to tell in Hollywood.

I had a lot of fun with this one. I enjoyed Ben and Anna so much. Both of their characters worked for me and their banter together was adorable.

As with the earlier books in the series, I appreciate how Guillory included some important real life issues. Her characters are never just laser focused on love and romance. They always have issues they are working through and for me, I feel like they always grow in a satisfying way.

In this one, Anna’s celebrity was interesting to read about. I think frequently about how anxiety-inducing it must be to live that sort of fishbowl lifestyle. It must be challenging and exhausting to separate who you really are from all that constant chatter.

Ben is a breath of fresh air in Anna’s life. He’s a sincere person, who having worked in the past as a back-up dancer, is used to the buzz and craziness that comes with the entertainment business. He doesn’t get blinded by all that. He just sees Anna.

While I felt this one was wrapped up a little abruptly, I’m still very happy with the ending. My heart is full and I’ve got a big ole smile on my face!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I will definitely continue to pick up anything else Guillory chooses to write. She’s got her own style and I’m here for it!

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Review: When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

When You Get the ChanceWhen You Get the Chance by Emma Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

High school student, Millie Price, dreams of becoming a Broadway star.

She lives in New York City with her slightly-dweeby, single-dad and fun-loving, Aunt Heather, but she has her sights set on a competitive precollege program that will take her out of state next year.

Her Dad isn’t happy when he finds out about Millie’s plan. He doesn’t understand why she can’t finish up school at home. She’s steps from Broadway, why would she need to travel across the country to help her future career prospects?

It’s clear to Millie that he just doesn’t get it and probably never will. ((Our Millie is nothing if not dramatic.))

What Millie needs is an ally to sell this precollege program to her Dad, but where to find one?

Although she knows next to nothing about her birth mother, an untouchable topic in their household, Millie does know that her Mom was a huge fan of musical theater.

Perhaps if Millie can find her, she can recruit her onto Team ‘Let Millie Go To Precollege’, thus swaying her Dad.

Going off clues found within her Dad’s embarrassingly honest LiveJournal from 2003, Millie and her best friend, Teddy, begin the hunt in earnest.

They narrow their candidates down to three women living within New York City. All Millie needs to do is get close to them and insert herself into their lives, until she can figure out which one is her Mom.

When You Get the Chance swept me off my feet from the very start. It’s a beautifully engaging love letter to musical theater, featuring one of my favorite YA Contemporary protagonists of all time.

I absolutely adored Millie. Her moods, dreams and insecurities all felt incredibly real to me. I’m basically her Aunt Heather now. I love her so darn much.

Emma Lord does a fantastic job of mixing cutesy-YA Romance, with quite serious family issues. This seems to be a trend in her work that I really appreciate.

Millie has a lot of questions surrounding her Mom that unfortunately, she doesn’t feel comfortable asking anyone. She can tell by her Dad’s reaction anytime her Mom does get brought up, that he doesn’t want to talk about.

This leaves poor Millie to struggle on her own with a lot of unanswered questions. While her Dad is super loving and supportive of her, there’s just a lot left unsaid.

I loved how this wildly fun and hilariously witty story was wrapped around this serious, dramatic core.

It’s fun, sweet and fast-paced, while also having true substance that should resonate well with a lot of Readers.

If you pick this one up, and I definitely recommend that you do, please take the time to read the Acknowledgements at the end. I think it gives great insight into Lord as a writer and her inspiration for this story.

At this point, I will pick up anything Emma Lord writes. I love her brand. I’m sold!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I look forward to adding a hard copy to my growing Emma Lord collection. Her writing absolutely fills my heart with joy and I just can’t get enough of it!

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Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love HypothesisThe Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The prologue to our action is an adorable Meet Cute in a bathroom in the research wing of a University.

Unfortunately, our smart and quirky protagonist, Olive, is having major issues with her contact lenses at the time and never gets a good look at the guy she’s talking with.

Regardless of her optical challenges, the interaction made an impact. In fact, it sort of helped her decide the course of her life. Her decision to pursue a Ph.D. was in a way spurred along by that encounter.

Three years later, Olive is now a Ph.D. candidate at that very University, living a perfectly normal single student lifestyle.

That is until her best friend, Ahn, falls for the guy Olive went on like two dates with. Olive seriously doesn’t care if Ahn goes for it. She doesn’t have feelings for that guy, but Ahn isn’t buying it.

Therefore, Olive does what any good friend would do and creates a fake dating relationship with the first man she can literally grab.

The man in question happens to be Adam Carlson, a young hotshot Professor with a surly reputation. What could go wrong?

Pursuing motivations of his own, Adam agrees to go along with Olive’s scheme. Logically, it is a win-win for both of them, but can they keep to the boundaries set-up at the beginning of their agreement?

I really had fun with this story. Olive was such a great main character. I grew quite attached to her over the course of the story and was rooting for her to achieve all her goals.

Additionally, I felt that the incorporation of a female main in STEM was such a refreshing set-up for a Contemporary Romance. The University setting, the research issues and politics, the hot professors, it was all so engaging!

The fake dating was actually quasi-plausible and I enjoyed watching the evolution of Olive and Adam’s relationship as they got themselves in deeper and deeper.

Adam is definitely a swoon-worthy male lead!

Overall, this is a memorable, science-is-sexy story and I want more from Ali Hazelwood; definitely one of my favorite Romance stories of the year, if not my very favorite.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Highly recommend!

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Review: The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Sky Weaver (Iskari, #3)The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sky Weaver is the third, and sadly, the final installment of companion novels within Kristen Ciccarelli’s Iskari series.

I started this series on a whim earlier this year and immediately fell in love with it. It’s so underrated.

In this edition we get to follow a character who has intrigued me from the very first book. Safire, a soldier and cousin to the new King, Dax, and his sister, the Last Namsara, Asha.

We also follow a new character, a pirate, Eris, known as the Death Dancer, who has the power to travel between worlds, thus making her next to impossible to catch.

When important items begin to be stolen from the kingdom, Safire, commander of the King’s forces, determines the Death Dancer may be plaguing them.

She’s correct and in fact, Eris has taken a special interest in the beautiful commander.

The two play cat and mouse for a bit, which only piques their interests more.

As their fates are pushed further together, both seeking Asha, albeit for different reasons, the two women build a tentative alliance, learning more about one another and about their greater world in general.

I loved this story so much. My favorite of the series. It was action-packed, full of reveals, high stakes and swoon-worthy pining.

An Enemies-to-Lovers trope set in a dragon Fantasy world, with beautifully told lore for the world sprinkled throughout. What is not to love?

Additionally, I enjoyed how the three storylines all really came together in this one. Ciccarelli wrapped it up nicely, although I will say, if she ever chooses to write more in this world, I will be the first one to line up to buy it.

One of my favorite aspects of this series, was the lush and lyrical legends Ciccarelli created as a base for this world. Those sections are included in all three books and are connected to Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Lore of the world of Iskari.

It connected so well with the main storyline and characters; absolutely seamless.

If you have had this series on your radar for a while, you should definitely check it out. I am so happy that I did and now consider it to be one of my favorite YA Fantasy series!!

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Review: First Comes Like (Modern Love #3) by Alisha Rai

First Comes Like (Modern Love, #3)First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

First Comes Like is the third companion novel in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series.

In this installment we follow Jia Ahmed, roommate of Rhiannon and Katrina, the stars of the first two novels.

Jia is a successful Beauty Influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers. Having been in that space for quite a few years, it is starting to feel stale for her. She dreams of one day owning her own make-up company.

She’s so focused on her career that it surprises her when she starts to fall for a man who begins DMing her.

The man in question is Dev Dixit, a successful actor from a powerful Bollywood family. They’re basically royalty.

Dev has recently moved to the United States to try to take his career in a different direction. He wants to be free from the shadow of his family; to forge his own path.

When Jia hears of a party she knows Dev will be at, she decides it is finally time for them to meet in person. They have been messaging for so long, but when she mentions meeting, he generally redirects the conversation.

Jia is ready to take matters into her own hands, but when she approaches Dev at the party, he acts like he has no idea who she is.

Jia is horrified and embarrassed. She flees the party like Cinderella at the ball, leaving a dumbfounded Dev in her wake.

From there we watch as the truth behind Jia and Dev’s online interactions comes to light.

When the tabloids begin covering their relationship, portraying it in a more intimate way than is true, the two develop a scheme to save face.

Thus an adorable Fake Dating trope develops. Bringing both of their families into the fray, ups the stakes for both Jia and Dev.

I know I’m in the minority opinion, but this was actually my favorite in the series.

I found it so refreshing to read a Romance following a different cultural perspective than my own. I loved all the characters and arc of Jia and Dev’s relationship. It left me swooning.

I really enjoyed both Jia and Dev’s perspectives and again, appreciated how Rai portrays her characters working through real-life issues with family, career and even self-confidence.

I think it makes her characters feel more complex, real and easy to relate to. I have felt that way with all three books in this series.

As far as the steam factor goes, there’s not much here; some, but not a lot. I feel like if you go into this, seeing Alisha Rai’s name on the cover, and think the steam train is about to roll into the station, you may be disappointed.

However, if you arrive looking for great character work and are willing to sit back and soak up the feels as an adorable intimacy is built outside of the bedroom, you could enjoy this as much as I did!

The audiobook is fantastic as well, definitely recommend that. In short, this was great. I really enjoyed my time spent with this story.

I would absolutely pick up future works from Rai!

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Review: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like ThisWe Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You’ve swept me off my feet again, Rachel Lynn Solomon. I see you and it’s like you see me too.

Quinn Berkowitz is the harpist for her parent’s wedding planning business.

Tarek Monsour is a cater-waiter, and aspiring baker, whose family’s catering business is frequently hired on by the Berkowitzs for events.

Over the years, the two have worked a lot of weddings together.

Somewhere along the way, Quinn became a skeptic of the whole love thing, while Tarek went completely in the other direction. He’s now over-the-top romantic; full of positivity with regards to love.

Last summer, Quinn became fed up with watching Tarek’s grand gestures to other girls. Perhaps she had secretly grown to like him more than she admitted.

When she called him out on it though, her ire seemed to ruin everything. He left for college and they didn’t talk for a year.

As summer returns, so too does Tarek, home from college and again working with his parents.

The first wedding Quinn sees him at is uncomfortable as heck, but this is a romantic comedy, so y’all know what’s coming.

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is exactly as adorable as it sounds. Solomon always knows how to bring the cute, as well as relatable substance.

This book is full of incredible OCD rep, sex positivity and exploration of other issues a lot of young adults go through; like, what the heck do I want to do with the rest of my life?

Solomon is always able to handle serious topics well and seamlessly incorporates them into otherwise light-hearted narratives.

This is the YA Summer Romance that should be on everyone’s reading list. I highly, highly recommend it!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is an autobuy author for me and I can’t wait to see what cutesy-creation she dreams up next!!!

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Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last StopOne Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Casey McQuiston!!!

I’m going to find it close to impossible to write this review without swooning like a fangirl, but I’ll give it my best shot.

In One Lost Stop, we follow 23-year old college student, August, who has recently moved to New York City.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the city, August is on a journey of self-discovery. She’s on her own for the first time and is a little desperate to find her place.

Securing a room in an apartment with three other people and taking a job at a 24-hour pancake diner seem like steps in the right direction.

August is establishing herself as a functioning adult, no matter how meager her resources, yet she still feels alone.

The stars align one day, however, as she meets a girl on the Q. The sexy and mysterious, Jane, gives August a scarf in her hour of need. After that, August cannot get her out of her mind.

Subsequently, she runs into Jane every time she is on the train and a relationship develops. It very quickly becomes clear that something about Jane is a little off.

Jane’s not just a random punk rocker, razorblade girl with a cotton candy heart, taking her style inspiration from the 1970s. She’s actually from the 1970s, and somehow, someway, finds herself trapped on the Q-line.

I know this seems like a bit of a trippy idea, but it was such a phenomenally fun and creative way to frame this story.

August coming to the revelation that Jane cannot leave the train and trying to figure out what exactly that means and why; it was bloody fantastic and so incredibly entertaining.

August’s roommates, Myla, Niko and Wes, all become involved in the relationship, as well as their neighbor, Annie. Together this vastly diverse group of souls evolve into one of the most beautiful found-families that I have ever read.

Each person had their own unique story, voice, personality and contribution to August’s growth and maturation. I absolutely adored the way they interacted and supported one another.

Friendship goals, for sure. McQuiston packed so much into this book and watching the evolution of August’s character was immensely satisfying.

There were so many moments when I laughed, a few when I felt my heart-breaking and times where I was just left contemplating this thing we call life.

The release date for this book coinciding with the 1st day of Pride month, couldn’t be more perfect!

The representation includes a plethora of Queer identities and romances. I particularly enjoyed how OLS is just a story of Queer individuals living their lives in the way they choose.

It didn’t really have individuals having to hide who they were, or having to come out to anyone in a dramatic way.

They all just were living their day-to-day lives in New York City; dealing with family, work, relationships, LIFE. There was a certain sense of peace to be found in that, even when the narrative got a little crazy!

I think August learned a lot from her new friends. Particularly how to open up, be herself and allow herself to need other people in her life.

That it was okay if things were complicated, what with her love interest being trapped in time and all.

Jane was a fascinating character as well. I loved how her life was pieced together through her continual interactions with August.

It was particularly clever how McQuiston used Jane’s character, in a way, as a plot device to compare the experiences Jane had, as a Queer woman, in the 1970s, versus the experiences that August and her friends have in the present time. It felt like a subtle, respectful nod to those who came before.

At the end of the day, this book has it all. If you enjoyed Red, White & Royal Blue, you should love One Last Stop. It’s next level. This book made me overflow with feeling!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I greatly appreciate the opportunity!

A new favorite!!!

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Review: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A for AuntiesDial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Meddy Chan works as a photographer for her family’s up-and-coming wedding planning business.

After completing college, where she did study photography, Meddy couldn’t seem to extract herself from her loving, though overly-involved, mother and aunties.

Since the men in the family, and all her cousins, have left, Meddy is the sole focus of Ma’s and the Aunties’ attention. Her family is cursed. That’s all there is to it.

When her mother fixes her up on a blind date, she agrees good-naturedly to go. How bad can it possibly be?

As it turns out, bad. Really, really bad.

Her date ends up dead. Meddy freaks, as you would, and in her panicked state transports his body back to her house in the truck of her car.

Fortunately, one of the best things about her Ma and Aunties is, they’re always there when Meddy needs them and right now, she REALLY needs them and right now, she REALLY needs them.

From there hijinks ensue, as the body of her dead date ends up being accidentally transported to the island where the over-the-top billionaire’s wedding they are working that weekend is being held.

Dial A for Aunties drew me in from the very start. Meddy, as a protagonist, is sharp and super relatable.

I loved her relationship with her Ma, as well as the relationships among all the Aunties. There is such a fun family dynamic throughout this entire story.

I think it could best be described as Weekend at Bernie’s with a Romantic Comedy twist, so if that sounds interesting to you, pick it up. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

I had an absolute blast reading this and am so happy books like this exist in the world!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate it!

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Review: 10 Truths and a Dare by Ashley Elston

10 Truths and a Dare10 Truths and a Dare by Ashley Elston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With 10 Truths and a Dare, Ashely Elston returns the Reader to the loving, yet chaotic, Messina family. You may recall them from Elston’s 2019-release, 10 Blind Dates.

In this installment, we follow Olivia, one of the cousins, at the very end of her Senior year in high school. In fact, there is just a week to go until graduation.

Olivia has always taken school very seriously, so it is no surprise to anyone that she will be graduating second in her class.

As Salutatorian, she will be giving the welcome speech at the graduation ceremony. It’s kind of a big deal.

What does come as a surprise to Olivia, is the email she receives from the school, saying her off-campus PE teacher never filled out the paperwork needed to show she completed her golf class.

Meaning, without that course officially completed, she is a half-credit short of the credits she will need to graduate!

Olivia cannot believe it. There has to be a mistake. Everything she has worked so hard for can all be taken away from her because of golf!?

She needs to get in touch with her PE teacher, Coach Cantu, in order to clear this up. Otherwise, she will never be able to enjoy all the graduation parties she has to attend this week.

After talking with the coach, it’s clear, she needs extra credit and the only way to get it, is by helping him with the 4-day golf tournament occurring that week.

Olivia needs to hide all of this from her parents, who are luckily out of town, but her Mom tracks her like a police dog. She literally has a tracking app on her phone.

Making matters worse, her Mom knows her graduation party schedule and is really excited for it. How can Olivia possibly be in two places at once?

She’s going to have to call in reinforcements. The other members of the Fab Four, her cousins, Charlie and Sophie, as well as their other best friend, Sophie’s boyfriend, Wes, agree to help and get Olivia through the week.

As with 10 Blind Dates, this story is full of wacky hijinks, romance, humor and touching family moments.

I laughed, cried and felt a whole host of emotions in between. I adored the dynamic of the Fab Four. They really go all in to help Olivia through, what turns out to be, the most difficult week of her life.

The narrative is so fast-paced. I completed it in under 24-hours. Once I started, I could not put it down. I had to know the conclusion.

While this story focused more on the Fab Four, and less on the extended family members, I didn’t mind that at all. The other family was still there around the periphery, bringing that classic Messina family chaos that I grew to love in the first book.

I hope Elston writes more books following this family. Could there be a book for Charlie in the works?

I highly recommend this, or any other book by Ashley Elston, actually. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Also, be sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of this.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide my thoughts and opinion.

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Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Ex TalkThe Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her local public radio station since she graduated from college nearly a decade ago. She enjoys her job and can’t imagine ever working anywhere else.

Dominic Yun is Shay’s newest coworker. He’s fresh out of a Masters Degree program in Journalism at a top school and boy, does he love to tell you about it.

He’s the current hot-shot at the station that all the higher-ups seem to love, but frankly, his very presence drives Shay a little batty.

Sure, he’s good-looking, tall and smells nice, but why does he have to be so darn condescending?

Pitching ideas to try to boost the ratings of their slightly floundering station, Shay presents an idea for a relationship chat show.

The concept is that exs would cohost and explore what went wrong in their relationship, tying in other popular dating topics at the same time. To Shay’s surprise, her boss okays the project with enthusiasm.

The only catch is, he expects Shay and Dominic to co-host. It’s true they’ve never dated, but there is certainly enough animosity flowing between them to convince people that they have.

Neither of them feels good about having to deceive their audience, but they also feel like they don’t have much choice. Ultimately, both Shay and Dominic begrudgingly accept the assignment.

They first need to make up an entire story behind their 3-month dating life, memorize it and stick to it. With that comes the opportunity to get to know each other better.

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s work.

If I am not mistaken, this book is her debut in the Adult Romance space. I really enjoyed my time with these characters, although I will say they did both seem extremely young.

At times, I could have easily been convinced they were in high school interning at a radio station; except then I would be reminded of the fact they both had completed college and had their own apartments. Then, of course, there’s the steamy bits.

Those were well done. No further clarification required.

It’s true, I enjoyed this so, so much. I loved Shay. I loved Dominic. I loved Shay’s adopted dog. There’s miscommunication, flirting, workplace debacles and soft, romantic moments. It’s just a lot of fun.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

This story gave me all the feels and I look forward to picking up Solomon’s upcoming YA-release, We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This.

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