Mini-Reviews: Steamy Holiday Romances

I’m not much of a seasonal reader but the holiday romances have really worked for me this particular holiday season! Having spent the majority of my life living in the tropics, with a few years here and there in countries with four seasons, I actually do miss the cold weather and these reads have allowed me to immerse myself in both holiday cheer and snowy settings.

Dipped in Holly by Dana Isaly

Goodreads: Dipped in Holly
Publication Date: 17 December 2021
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Holly was just dumped.
Less than a week before Christmas. In public. Dressed as a slutty Mrs. Claus.
All she wants is to hide in the bathroom and have a breakdown in peace.
But the Silver Fox who owns the bar has other plans.

The moment Nick takes in Holly’s grey eyes and sassy attitude, he’s hooked.
There’s no denying the attraction that has sparked between them.
And when that tension finally snaps, he finds himself taking Holly to bed.
A kinky one night stand later, and they’re left questioning if it was enough.

Continue reading “Mini-Reviews: Steamy Holiday Romances”

Mini ‘Friends-to-Lovers’ Reviews: Guarding Temptation & Pact With A Heartbreaker

Goodreads: Guarding Temptation
Publisher: Nixon House
Published: 22 April 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:


Protective. Obsessive. And rough around the edges.

James Foster knows the rules: you don’t fall for your best friend’s little sister. Nina is too young, too reckless, and too busy saving the world to be tied down by the commitment he craves.
If he was smart, he’d stop wanting her. But she’s the one thing on earth James just can’t quit.

Fierce. Principled. And impossible to resist.

Political campaigner Nina Chapman is sick of one-time things. She wants forever, and she wants it with her brother’s best friend—but James still sees her as a child to be coddled.
So when a controversial article lands Nina in hot water, she finds herself under his protection and under his roof. It’s a shame James doesn’t want her in his bed, too.
…Or does he?

Continue reading “Mini ‘Friends-to-Lovers’ Reviews: Guarding Temptation & Pact With A Heartbreaker”

Mini Romance Reviews: The Kinky & The Steamy

I’ve still been reading an unsurprising number of romances lately because they’ve been the easiest to get into while I’ve been in this fickle reading mood. Some of these have seen me stepping out of my romance comfort zone but for the most part, I had fun with them! Well, except for one and that was a little disappointing cos it’s a pretty hyped title!

Games We Play (One Night #1)
Publication Date: 27 August 2021
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Jaclyn Love is a magnet for trouble – it seems to follow her wherever she goes.

Unfortunately for Kadan Davenport, she also seems to be a magnet for him – even after a disastrous first impression that leaves him – literally – black and blue.

Jaclyn is busy trying to find some sort of balance, and Kadan is just trying not to get swept up in the chaos.

In a small city like Blakewood, it’s hard to avoid each other… especially when each additional encounter makes them wonder if they really want to.

“I Think I Might Love You” is a first-in-series novella.

Continue reading “Mini Romance Reviews: The Kinky & The Steamy”

Book Review: Wolf Girl Series by Leia Stone

Paranormal romance is not my usual jam but I picked up the first book in a new spin-off series from this one and was intrigued by the history of many of the characters we met, so I decided to check this out. Overall, the Wolf Girl series was pretty engaging and I sped through all four books in just over a day! Despite having major #dramallama I needed to know what happened next, how Wolf City would fare, and how Demi and Sawyer’s relationship would work out. If you’re looking for an entertaining paranormal romance-heavy read that helps you escape reality and is totally binge-able, I would recommend checking this out. Beware the angsty drama though! 😂

*For those who are interested, this series is available on Kindle Unlimited!*

Wolf Girl (Wolf Girl #1)
Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Lost Girl (Wolf Girl #2)
Panda Rating:


(2.75 pandas)

Alpha Girl (Wolf Girl #3)
Panda Rating:


(3 pandas)

Mated Girl (Wolf Girl #4)
Panda Rating:


(3 pandas)

Wolf Girl (Wolf Girl Series #1) by Leia Stone

Wolf Girl spends a lot of time building up the world of Magic City and the various creature factions living in it: wolves, vampires, trolls, dark fae, light fae, and witches, but we also get a small glimpse into the world of banished creatures living in the magically enclosed part of the human world. I thought the world-building was done well and not overly complex. The romance is also quite heavy in this book as a majority of the plot revolves around our heroine, Demi, taking part in the ‘mate selection year’ activities which she likens to The Bachelor (but “Wolf Bachelor”) and though I’ve never watched the show, I can imagine it’s quite similar from what I’ve heard. Thankfully, there’s not a lot of angst between the women, but there’s definitely a lot of angst between our H/H! 🥲

I liked all of the characters but I wasn’t overly invested in any of them. Demi‘s family was banished from Wolf City and she grew up in the human world, so she doesn’t know a lot about Magic City or living in a wolf pack, and we discover her split shifter abilities and wolf customs alongside her. She’s a bit “not like other girls” but she doesn’t let herself get sucked into any drama. I loved her friendship with Sage though! Sawyer was a generally sweet and well-intentioned guy though he doesn’t go about things the right way (at all) and I was pretty miffed about some of the things he did. There was a big hell-no moment for me towards the middle and I was a little miffed that Demi gave in and forgave him so quickly for it. That said, the ending had me really shaking my head in disbelief as it escalated really quickly but it did the trick and made me want to continue reading on!


Lost Girl (Wolf Girl Series #2) by Leia Stone

Lost Girl picks up right where the first book ends and is pretty much non-stop until the very end. We only get Demi’s perspective, though as Demi and Sawyer are separated, it would’ve been great to get his perspective to see how the shit hit the fan back in Wolf City from the moment she was captured.

The majority of this book follows Demi as she journeys back from Troll Valley through various territories (Troll Valley, Dark Fae, Light Fae, Wildlands) and I liked getting to see how different they are. Again, I think the world-building was done well and I had a clear picture in my head of the magical races and their lands. It was slower-paced as there are a lot of reflective moments and being in Demi’s head was a bit repetitive. We do see her gain strength and we get to see her wield her powers more now that the secret is out. That said, I was honestly disappointed by Demi’s quick forgiveness of Sawyer’s actions. Like, woman, please. Stick up for yourself? Where’s your backbone? He did you real dirty and you’re gonna capitulate that easily? Hmm…

Sawyer didn’t play much of a role in this book but he grovels a lot and becomes a stage five clinger. I wasn’t impressed… We also meet new characters that I liked, such as Astra, Arrow and my new fave: Marmal. I really hope these characters come back! At this point, it’s not that I’m even particularly invested in Demi and Sawyer’s relationship or the trials they face, but I am curious to see how the war plays out.


Alpha Girl (Wolf Girl Series #3) by Leia Stone

Alright, Alpha Demi, you’re okay. I’m a little conflicted about Alpha Girl because not much happens. The war has full-on escalated, people are dying all around them, and Wolf City is frankly being destroyed as all the other territories have banded with the vampires all to get their hands on Demi’s tasty power. Demi and Sawyer are still separated and Sawyer is still kind of a stage-five clinger at the start but he does mellow down.

It’s disappointing that we don’t see more of the war because this focuses on Demi’s alpha trial in the Dark Woods. Demi has to stay until she’s shown the magic cave and can harness the Alpha’s powers, and while it’s technically supposed to take three days… we know that’d be too easy, right? 😉 The pace is definitely slow as we spend so much time on the day-to-day of Demi surviving this trial and it takes a while!

That said, one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about this series is the friendship between Sage and Demi, so I enjoyed the focus on them. I love their unconditional support for each other and they’re truly ride or die. Give me more strong women and strong friendships like this, please!

At this point, I’m just ready to know how everything is resolved!


Mated Girl (Wolf Girl Series #4) by Leia Stone

Despite the drama piled on top of drama (because some parts were really #dramallama to the power of max), I thought Mated Girl was a pretty satisfying conclusion to this series. Plus, it sets things up nicely for the spin-off!

Wolf City might still mostly be in ruins, but I’m always a sucker for those new beginnings where people come together despite their differences in order to create a better world and more inclusive future. Demi has a great pack, and I loved that Marmal came back and this time, we even get a dragon that flies and has old magic! 😉 I love the empowered empowered women in this series and it was satisfying to see them take on this rescue mission. Demi really does make a great alpha! Sawyer also comes back a more confident alpha and is no longer a stage five clinger (phew).

I think Magic City is an interesting place and I’ve actually already read the first book in Luka’s series so I’m curious to see what happens next with the tensions still extremely high between the territories, and especially with these nasty vampires. I know I’m definitely gonna be in for a lot more drama 😂

Have you read the Wolf Girl series or is it on your TBR? If you read paranormal romances, what’s your favourite or what do you recommend I check out?

Mini Reviews: Swoony Steamy Romance Novellas!

I’ve been in a pretty big romance mood over the last few months and that has led me to discovering quite a few books, authors and series that I’m eager to explore further. I’ve also read a surprising number of novellas that have worked for me and that I ended up really enjoying so I thought I’d share mini-reviews for three of them!

I Think I Might Love You (Love Sisters #1)
Publication Date: 25 April 2019
Genre:
Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Jaclyn Love is a magnet for trouble – it seems to follow her wherever she goes.

Unfortunately for Kadan Davenport, she also seems to be a magnet for him – even after a disastrous first impression that leaves him – literally – black and blue.

Jaclyn is busy trying to find some sort of balance, and Kadan is just trying not to get swept up in the chaos.

In a small city like Blakewood, it’s hard to avoid each other… especially when each additional encounter makes them wonder if they really want to.

“I Think I Might Love You” is a first-in-series novella.

This had me laughing out loud pretty much from the first scene! Jac and Kadan’s meet-cute was hilarious (although painful for him) and it was so bizarre but it set the tone perfectly for our characters and how the rest of the book would go.

Jac is a notorious rule-breaker in this small-town and she has a fairly long history of getting on the wrong side of the law, but she’s doing her best to set up a calmer life for herself. She’s bold, sassy and had such great energy on the page! Kadan was pretty much Jac’s direct opposite, and well, it’s no wonder that there’s a little animosity between them considering how they first meet! 😂 He’s a vet and overall a pretty stand-up guy who’s trying to build a solid and quiet life for himself, which isn’t working out well for him since he finds himself very attracted to Jac’s “bold personality and attitude problem”. I wouldn’t say theirs is an “enemies-to-lovers” romance, it’s more “hate to love” thanks to their disastrous meet-cute but their banter was so good! It’s the kind that comes across as dislike when, in reality, nobody is fooled and they know it’s attraction.

There are cats in bowls of chicken, dairy-free ice cream mix-ups, (disturbingly funny) farting disasters, a bit of fake dating and a whole lot of sizzling chemistry! I’ve never read a novella series before but this was the perfect palette cleanser between reads and I’m keen to read on about the other sisters!


My Dirty Duke: A Victorian Novella
Publication Date:
07 June 2021
Genre: Historial Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Violet knows that her father’s best friend, the Duke of Ravensthorpe, is the most powerful man in all of London with a reputation for sin.

But nothing can stop Violet from wanting to shed her wallflower ways and fulfill her darkest, most forbidden desires…even if it means seducing a man twice her age.

“Shupe is a true queen of filth, expert at spinning heartfelt love stories alongside tantalizingly wicked scenarios.”
—Entertainment Weekly


Note: My Dirty Duke was originally published in the Duke I’d Like to F… anthology.

I’d never heard of this author before but Twitter romance led me to this book and I can’t say that I’m mad about it! I’m gonna be honest, I read this for the smut and it definitely delivered! 😂 This is an age-gap taboo romance, which is not something that I normally ever read (for no particular reason just don’t feel that it really interests me) so I wasn’t bothered by it in this story.

As this is a novella there’s not much in the way of character development or a strong plot, and their relationship to each other is already an established thing. I liked the Duke and Victoria. I thought they were both interesting characters and that the author handled the emotional and moral struggle (especially on his part) pretty well. I liked that Victoria was the one who pursued him—this girl knew exactly what she wanted and she managed to be bold despite being a little shy. I enjoyed reading about her passion for photography and of course, I liked how photographs had a role in their play, but I also liked how the Duke supported and encouraged the pursuit of her passion. Obviously, I liked the steamy bits and it did get quite steamy pretty quickly. The Duke ticked that dirty-talking hero box and so if that’s your thing, I would definitely recommend checking this out (especially if you have Kindle Unlimited)!

Were there some questionable moments in the characters’ actions and the progression of the plot? Sure, but I also didn’t really expect much to be developed or expanded upon in a novella, so I didn’t think too much about it. Overall, I enjoyed this and would be curious to check out more by this author in the future! If you’ve read her books, what’d you recommend checking out next?


Surrender: An Erotic Short
Publication Date: 16 August 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

“In twelve years unless we’re with other people I’ll fly you somewhere and you’ll give me two nights…”

The pact was so ridiculous, Yara forgot about it soon after it was made.
What were the odds she and Lennox would still be single in twelve years?
What were the odds they’d still have the hots for each other?
Practically zero, right?
Until they weren’t.
Yara is tempted to decline when Lennox emails her plane tickets and a reminder she promised him two nights for the full exploration of her body, but her curiosity gets the best of her.
What follows is more than either of them could ever bargain for and Yara learns that sometimes the key to indescribable pleasure is to surrender.

I picked this up immediately after seeing this terrifying yet hilariously thirsty image on Nick’s review. Her reviews have yet to steer me wrong and I’m glad I picked this up! It was fun, fast and super steamy and the perfect transition read to my next (presumably less erotic) romance.

This is basically about two people who come together to fulfil a sex pact they made after uni. Yara and Lennox promised each other that if they were single after 12 years they’d get together for two nights and wow hey, here they are and it was F-I-R-E! Despite only being 52 pages long, I was still able to get a good feel for both characters’ personalities and I loved them. Plus, the chemistry was intense and the sexual tension was almost palpable! Yes, there’s a lot of sex in this book but they (surprisingly) don’t just bang the day away and we see them reconnect as friends but also explore the potential of this connection they have being more serious than a sex pact. But, the steamy is definitely worth the build up! 😉

I hadn’t read anything by Rilzy Adams before this but I’ll be looking their books up now and I’m keen to check out more.

Have you read any of these novellas or are they on your TBR? Do you have romance novella faves to recommend? I’m definitely keen on trying more novellas soon!

Reading the Highest & Lowest Rated Books on my Goodreads TBR…

I was inspired to do this post after watching one of my fave booktubers, Jack Edwards, post a video reading the highest and lowest rated books on his bookshelf. It looked like a lot of fun and I thought, why not give it a go cos it seems like a great way to continue slashing down the TBR!

I initially thought about cataloguing all the unread books on my bookshelf like he did, but I admittedly have a lot more and I was feeling a little lazy! 😬 So instead I decided to take a look at my Goodreads “to-read” shelf, which definitely changes up the dynamic because the list includes books that I don’t own and also books that aren’t published yet. I also realised that would affect the average rating more as I noticed many of the books have a lower number of ratings/reviews, which obviously skews the results that come up top and bottom. So, it was already a little more complicated but instead of abandoning the idea I thought I’d still go through with it and I’m glad I did!

I chose the books based on 1) whether it was out or not and 2) whether I had a copy (physical/digital/ARC)—it’s not a perfect solution but it did end up working for me! In the end, the two books I had to read were: With You Forever by Chloe Liese and The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada. Both were ARCs that I had on hand so that was a good start and again, I know it’s not the most perfect system, but I just rolled with it! Here are some stats for the books:

Lowest rating:
The Perfect Date
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: No
Publication: June 2019
GR Rating: 2.61 (1,232 ratings)

Highest rating:
With You Forever (Bergman Brothers #4)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes
Publication: September 2021
GR Rating: 4.73 (203 ratings)

HOW IT WENT: THE READING EXPERIENCE

Although I’ve been in a romance mood for a while, as a mood reader whose moods can flip very quickly, I was a bit hesitant to start the books, though I was also pretty excited about starting this small ‘project’ that I knew could help me get back into reviewing and blogging. Plus, I’d be knocking out two books from my TBR and my ARC list and what’s not to love about that, right?

Thankfully, things went pretty smoothly overall. I read the lowest rated book first which I thought might’ve been a mistake but it ended up working out well in the end. Both are also contemporary romances so I felt that put them on an ‘even’ level to start and I managed to read both pretty quickly, finishing one for each day of the weekend. That said, my reading experience for both books were very different. 🤣

THE NOT SO PERFECT DATE

To say that I didn’t enjoy The Perfect Date would be an understatement and after putting myself through the torture that was reading it, I can understand why this title has the rating that it does. Before I started I thought that it surely couldn’t be that bad—it’s got a cute cover, it’s a single-parent fake-dating trope romance that promises a sweet love story—what could possibly go wrong? The answer is a lot. I mean, a lot can go wrong and if there’s anyone who truly thinks this book had the “perfect date” I would ask them if they were okay. I know that sounds harsh but… this hero is the worst I’ve ever read in a romance to date. He was a condescending, egotistical, misogynistic asshole that did not change and I could not fathom how anyone would consider him perfect in any way. Long story short, it took me until the 10% mark to realise why I never finished this (very overdue) ARC in the first place but I truly wish that I had DNF’d it. It was a slog and I gave it 1 star—my first of 2021. 🥺

STAY WITH ME FOREVER

After finishing that perfectly hot mess, I was honestly unsure whether I wanted to keep reading romance but I thought: this is Chloe Liese, there’s no way I’m not gonna love it. As much as I jinxed myself when I said the first book couldn’t be that bad, I’m so happy to say that I wasn’t wrong about this one. With You Forever is a wonderful addition to the Bergman Brothers series and if you’ve been around my blog for a while, you’ll know this series is one of my all-time faves (shameless plug: check out my reviews for the first three in the series: Only When It’s Us, Always Only You, Ever After Always)! There was so much heart and tender emotion in this book and I only swooned about a thousand times because the slow-burn romance between Axel and Rooney was so not only super steamy but it was beautifully heartwarming as well. I cannot recommend this book (and this series) enough and you just might hear me gushing about it a bit more until release date. I gave it 4.5 swoontastic stars (rounded up)! 😍

DO I AGREE WITH THE RATINGS?

By the time I finished reading both books I couldn’t disagree with their respective ratings on Goodreads. Obviously, Liese’ book has a higher rating with a lower number of reviews, but I do feel that once the book is published and more people read it, its rating will remain high. I was also wondering whether my feelings for The Perfect Date were swayed at all by my knowledge of its low rating, and while I might’ve briefly toyed with the thought, I really don’t think that was the case. The totality of that book (characters, plot and writing) was just not good and I’m honestly a little shocked it was actually published by a major publishing house!

Overall, I had a lot of fun doing this little reading project. I thought it was a great way to bring some different content to my blog (although nothing ground breaking or anything) and it helped me get back into the swing of writing and reviewing! I’m quite tempted to keep doing this for books on my various TBRs: physical, digital, andARCs, and seeing whether those turn out as well as this one did!

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Have you read either of these books or are they on your TBR? Do you have any fun ‘reading project’ ideas that you’ve seen or done yourself? I’d defo love to hear about them!