Top 5 Saturday: Enemies to Lovers…

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you might’ve noticed that I’ve been unexpectedly MIA for a while now. Life has been… Life? No excuses but if you want to read me waffle on about it, check out my smol life and reading update post. On that note, I’m looking forward to getting back into the groove and a perfect way to do this is to start doing my regularly weekly memes (that I’ve missed so much)! Glad to be back with…

Another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: enemies to lovers.

I used to be embarrassed to admit that I’m a big fat hopeless romantic but… I am indeed a big fat hopeless romantic. GIVE ME ALL THE LOVE and I will (probably) love it! I think I’ve only really taken the time to notice this year just how much romance I read and the enemies-to-lovers trope is one of my all time favourites! I mean, who doesn’t love the delicious tension that builds between two characters who, deep down, have all these feelings for each other that they don’t know what do with until one day it finally explodes? Not to mention all the hilarious, snarky banter that’s usually a staple in our protagonists’ exchanges? Just thinking about it gets me giddy with excitement and anticipation! Safe to say, I’ve read my share of enemies-to-lovers but I’ve still got plenty on my TBR! Here are five of them that I hope to read ASAP:

(book covers are linked to the Goodreads pages!)

Continue reading “Top 5 Saturday: Enemies to Lovers…”

eARC Review: Only When It’s Us (Bergman Brothers #1) by Chloe Liese

Goodreads: Only When It’s Us (Bergman Brothers #1)
Publish date: 01 April 2020
Publisher: NetGalley Connect
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Panda Rating:

2 Frenemies.
1 Disastrous prank.

Ryder
Ever since she sat next to me in class and gave me death eyes, Willa Sutter’s been on my shit list. Why she hates me, I don’t know. What I do know is that Willa is the kind of chaos I don’t need in my tidy life. She’s the next generation of women’s soccer. Wild hair, wilder eyes. Bee-stung lips that should be illegal. And a temper that makes the devil seem friendly. She’s a thorn in my side, a menacing, cantankerous, pain-in-the-ass who’s turned our Business Mathematics course into a goddamn gladiator arena. I’ll leave this war zone unscathed, coming out on top…And if I have my way with that crazy-haired, ball-busting hellion, that will be in more than one sense of the word.

Willa
Rather than give me the lecture notes I missed like every other instructor I’ve had, my asshole professor tells me to get them from the silent, surly flannel-wearing mountain man sitting next to me in class. Well, I tried. And what did I get from Ryder Bergman? Ignored. What a complete lumbersexual neanderthal. Mangy beard and mangier hair. Frayed ball cap that hides his eyes. And a stubborn refusal to acknowledge my existence. I’ve battled men before, but with Ryder, it’s war. I’ll get those notes and crack that Sasquatch nut if it’s the last thing I do, then I’ll have him at my mercy. Victory will have never tasted so sweet.

Holy slow burn and sexual tension, batman! *phew* I’m a big fan of slow burn romances especially when they’re done right and this one does not disappoint! I loved that this gave me so much more depth than I expected from a romcom! There was so much to both characters and oh mans, Ryder the lumbersexual is absolute PER-FEC-TION! I know I’m gushing but he made my heart all melty and my feelings all gooey and yep, I’m crushing hard on him and if you read this book, you’ll definitely get why!

Liese brings rep to her romance with Ryder, a character who lost his hearing after contracting bacterial meningitis as a college freshman. I’ve already mentioned how much I loved his character but really, his arc was so well done. He’s a bear of a man but with the softest and sweetest heart just looking to find his way back to “normal” after losing his hearing. I can’t even imagine how devastating it would be to lose your hearing because of an illness. In a way his hearing loss does define a big part of his life, but it’s not just who he is and the author did a wonderful job of showing his many sides. And as if I wasn’t already fully in love with him 30% through the book, the author had to have him reading JANE AUSTEN and that’s me 100% gone!

I was on the fence about how I felt for Willa. She’s physically strong as an athlete, she’s incredibly hardworking, and her love for her mother was so heartwarming. But Willa does literally everything to avoid opening up and being honest about her life with people she’s afraid to get close to. Her fear of confronting serious issues, while understandable, also became a bit too much for me at a certain point. I want to say that Ryder deserved better and for a good chunk of the story I did think that. In reality though they were perfect for each other because his patience, understanding and ability to be vulnerable with her was exactly what she needed to balance out and do the same. And as much as he balanced her, Willa’s acceptance of him as he is with no hesitation, disability or no, was exactly what he needed to feel normal. There were some pretty emotionally raw scenes that had me tearing up! Also, if it isn’t obvious by now, the chemistry between these two was absolute FIRE! It’s a (really) slow burn, but the way the connection builds between Ryder and Willa is SO good and it’s SO worth the wait! I’d put this at a 4/5 on the steamy scale.

One of the best things in this book was the family relationships. I loved the Bergman family and how they ribbed each other but how they were so openly affectionate and caring with each other. They’re a beautiful family and I can’t wait to follow the stories of the other Bergman brothers as the series continues!

Overall, this was a surprisingly deep romcom that had me laughing, squealing, swooning and cheering for both characters as they fought for a wonderful heart-stopping love. Also, I really liked that this came with a playlist for the book and songs per chapter. I enjoyed listening to some of them while reading! I can’t wait to continue with this series and I’m looking forward to checking out the other books the author has written. I’d highly recommend it!

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. The book is out 01 April 2020!
Have you read Only When It’s Us or is it on your TBR?

Well Met (Well Met #1) by Jen DeLuca – #BookReview

Goodreads: Well Met (Well Met #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Continue reading “Well Met (Well Met #1) by Jen DeLuca – #BookReview”

Under Locke by Mariana Zapata – #BookReview

Goodreads: Under Locke
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a Widower, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario if things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before, one more wouldn’t kill me.

After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.

And the last thing they ever expected was each other.
But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.
… she should have chosen the strip club. 

It’s official: I’m a big Mariana Zapata fan and I think she’ll be an auto-read (maybe even auto-buy) author from now on. I’m so glad that Jen recommended this to me because I absolutely loved it! I was waiting for the right time to start reading this because past experience has shown me that once I start a Zapata book I won’t want to put it down.

Under Locke was surprisingly not as much of a slow burn compared to her other books; although compared to most other romances, it was still very much a slow burn. I don’t think there’s anyone who does slow burns as well as Zapata and it’s always so damn satisfying when the MCs finally get together. I can safely say that it’s absolutely always worth the wait and this one was no different. Although Dex did grate on my nerves a little bit with his extremely volatile temper and asshole-ish behavior, I pretty much fell in lovelust with him at the same pace as Iris did. Although his attitude does soften as the story goes on (especially towards her), he’s unapologetically himself and while I can see how that can rub people the wrong way, I appreciated that about his character. Can I also say that tattoos + men + me = (almost) guaranteed win? They’re kind of like my Achilles heel? Especially when they’re tall, brooding and totally inked (mega bonus points to Dex for owning his own parlor)!

Unsurprisingly, Iris is the total opposite of Dex. She’s sweet, shy, very innocent and it doesn’t take much to make her blush. She’s a pretty strong and resilient character, and did I mention that she’s also bookish and smart? Iris has been through some pretty tough shit in life that made her have to grow up faster than usual. While she’s only in her early twenties, she comes off as pretty mature and I really admired her character! Is the dynamic between Iris and Dex sounding a little too cliché and tropey right now? Well, maybe it is…but Zapata really does it so well and I wasn’t mad about it! Their chemistry was FIRE and those steamy scenes… Damn, those steamy scenes! 😏 I was doing a lot of swooning while reading this book (lmao).

What I also really loved about Under Locke were the side characters. The friendships that form between Iris and the rest of the artists at the parlor really gave me ‘found family’ vibes and I was here for it! The banter (oh, the banter) between everyone that worked at the store had me genuinely bent with laughter and the scenes that showed Dex relaxing/laughing with the group were also some of my favorites! Iris’ half-brother was another character that really grew on me and I really hope that we get his story because he’s such marshmallow/cinnamon roll and I want to know more ASAP!

Overall, I clearly loved this book and it definitely is a contender for my top Zapata book next to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and Wait For It. I took off half a star because of some repetitive things some characters did which I found slightly eye-roll inducing. I’ve definitely noticed this repetitive trait in Zapata’s characters in other books too though; so by now it’s not unexpected, it’s just a little eh. But that won’t stop me from reading her books because LOVE 😍

Have you read Under Locke? Are you a Mariana Zapata fan?
Let’s chat in the comments!

The Consequence of Falling by Claire Contreras – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Consequence of Falling
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating:

The list of things I hate is short. Not even my soon-to-be ex-husband is on that list. Nope. I save only the worst of the worst, the crème de la crème, the absolute I cannot even for this list . . . 
1. Black coffee 
2. Rude people 
3. Nathaniel Bradley 
Which is why when my father informs me that he’s making Nathaniel Bradley his new business partner, and in turn, my boss, I flip out. 
1. He’s an annoying know-it-all. 
2. He calls me a spoiled princess every chance he gets. 
3. He disapproves of everything I do. 
I go into this knowing I’ll hate every second in his presence. Except the longer he’s around, the more I find myself staring at his lips and remembering the one time they were on mine. I randomly find myself looking at his hands and wondering how they’d feel on my skin. I try to snap out of it, but I guess I’m not as smart as I thought I was. No matter how many times I remind myself of the times I’ve practically thrown myself at him and he’s pushed me away, I keep falling little by little.  I’d always heard that it was a bad idea to mix business with pleasure and if that’s the case, this thing with Nathaniel has demise written all over it. 

The build up in (sexual) tension between these two enemies was real in this one *fans self* but the characters could’ve used more depth and the story could’ve been much shorter (for what it was)!

I love a good enemies-to-lovers romance. It’s one of my favorite tropes! So, I was obviously keen to start this one, but I found that some of the issues outside of the romance made me feel a little ‘meh’ about it. But before getting into that, let me start with the good. This was a pretty fast paced romance. Presley appears as this spoiled brat on the surface (and well, she kind of is a little) but she also deals with a lot of insecurities which I could relate to. Nathaniel is your typical brooding love interest and he played the part well. The romance and banter between the characters was sweet and funny, and the sexual chemistry between them was really off the charts. This one definitely had the fans-self-steamy-scenes (lol) in the latter half of the novel! The story is told mostly through Presley’s POV with some very short chapters told by Nathaniel here and there, but I think it would’ve been so much better to have alternating chapters for both characters.

Now… for the parts that I didn’t really like. Minor spoilers(maybe?) and also, it might be a rant (sorry)!

Presley experiences a lot of sexism in the workplace from her father, Nathaniel and almost all the other men at the brewery. She was continuously kept out of discussions and meetings relating to the company because she was a woman. (Well, that was actually never stated outright but it’s what Presley thought and experienced). As these situations continued to happen, I really thought the author would have Presley’s character do something to prove that she had her shit together and that she could play in the same field as these men even though she was a woman, but that never happened! She just kept letting herself feel defeated and not doing anything about it. She claimed she wanted to learn but she never actively asked for help or showed people what she was capable of by taking initiative! It was very frustrating! Along the same lines, she kept getting annoyed with Nathaniel because he was always coming around and “reminding” her what work needed doing and she would always say she could handle the work herself, but then ended up doing nothing and let Nathaniel take care of everything. 🤦🏻‍♀️

It was also irritating that Presley kept finding things to get angry at Nathaniel over and continued to nitpick every little thing unnecessarily. Like, you’re already with the guy, it’s so clear that you’re in love with him, so why do you have to keep finding issues with him? I understand there’s a complicated back story to the characters and Presley has a lot of insecurities, but after Nathaniel proved himself time and again, I just got frustrated by her immaturity (despite wanting to be/seem mature) and seeming inability to grow up!

So, in the end though, if you can look past these things, it wasn’t a terrible romance. I’m torn between 2.5 or 3 stars (it’s rounded up on Goodreads)! While the characters aren’t wholly unlikable, I wanted more depth and development, which would’ve justified the book being as long as it was. This was my first read of Claire Contreras’ books, and while it wasn’t the biggest hit, I’m curious enough to see what other books she’s written!

Have you read The Consequences of Falling?
FYI: If you want to pick it up and have Kindle Unlimited, it’s on there!
Leave me a comment and let’s chat!

Friday Favorites: Tropes

So I actually had the backbone of this post ready for me to finish off after work on Friday, but when I got home I just felt so completely drained that I didn’t even have the energy to open my laptop again. I’m going through some stuff in life at the moment that’s making me question a lot of things and it’s really been affecting my sleep. I’m already a bad sleeper (oh how I love sleep, but sleep definitely doesn’t love me!) but the past two weeks have been really bad for my sleep. I’ve been functioning on 2-3 hours of sleep every night for the past two weeks and I think I finally reached the end of my tether this weekend? I just didn’t have the energy to do anything and for the first time in what feels like the last 5 years, I slept in until the afternoon without even trying. Granted, I did end up falling asleep at 5AM, but while I usually wake up again at 9AM, this time I woke up at 1PM! It threw me off completely but I guess my body really needed it? So I know it’s Sunday and this blog post is also a bit bare boned, but I wanted to post it anyway 🙂

It’s time for another Friday Favorites hosted by Kibby @ Something of the Book! This weekly meme is where you get to share a list of all your favorites based on the list of prompts on Kibby’s page. Sounds fun, right? This week’s prompt is: favorite tropes. I thought this was a fun prompt to answer! Before I started writing reviews and taking the time to think about what I’m putting into my brain, I wasn’t aware of these terms for books, like ‘tropes’. All I really knew is that I hated love triangles (lol), but I didn’t realize there was a term for plot elements/lines. That probably sounds really stupid and ignorant (lol again) but I really used to consume books without ever thinking too much about what I read, liked and didn’t like. Thinking about that now sounds really weird and I don’t even know how that’s possible? But like I said, all I really knew was that I hated love triangles LOL So after educating myself over the last few years, here are the first tropes I love that come to mind:

Enemies-to-lovers.

Would it be surprising to see this on a lot of peoples’ lists? Nope (at least it wouldn’t be for me lol). I love this trope so much and if done right always gives me such feels! The tension that runs through these types of relationship changes is always SO charged. Oo, I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

Friends-to-lovers.

This is another one that I love and yes, I know these first two tropes are found predominantly in romance stories but hey, I’m a hopeless romantic and love me a good romance! The tension in this type of romance is always high too, but I love seeing the transition from friends to lover. They’re best friends and then they become more and a lot of the times it’s super sweet.

Villain redemption.

I admit to not having read a lot of books where there’s a a good redeemed villain storyline but there are a few that made my heart melt and my eyes get a little teary. Lookin’ at you Snape!

Brooding characters who are really cinnamon rolls with marshmallow hearts.

Okay this is another one found a lot in romances, but there are also characters in non-romances like this (please don’t ask me right now because my brain is still half-shrouded in a fog. That said, I am so trash for dark broody characters as long as they’re not acting like downright assholes 90% of the time until their marshmallow hearts are shown.

Epic friendships formed during trying times.

I don’t know even know if this is a trope? But I love how really tough times and situations can bring a seemingly random group of acquaintances or even strangers together and strengthen/solidify them as a badass group of friends that will get each other through the craziest adventures. Yes, I admit to thinking a lot about Squad 312 as I’m writing this answer 😂

What are some of your favorite tropes? What about least favorite tropes? Leave me a comment below and let’s chat tropes!