Book Review: Second Chance Charmer by Brighton Walsh

Goodreads: Second Chance Charmer (Havenbrook #1)
Publisher: Bright Publishing, LLC
Published: 15 March 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Finn spent his childhood living so far on the wrong side of the tracks, he couldn’t even see them through his trailer window. When he moves back to his small, southern hometown to open the first bar in a formerly dry county, he’s no longer the boy who left—he’s a man with something to prove. As long as he doesn’t allow himself to get sidetracked by the only girl he’s ever loved.

Willow learned a long time ago to protect her heart at all costs, so her walls are firmly in place when her ex comes strolling back into town, all cockiness and charm. When they’re thrown together on the job, she knows better than to give in to the tug of attraction that still simmers between them. She might be drawn to him, but she certainly doesn’t trust him. It’s time for her to prove she’s not the brokenhearted girl he left behind.

There’s no room for second chances in Havenbrook. And Willow’s daddy—the mayor—will do anything to keep it that way.

TL;DR: Swoon swoon swoon! This small-town romance definitely charmed me (heh) and there was just so much to love about it! Overall, if you’re a fan of second chances, swoony romances, dirty talking heroes and strong heroines with sizzling chemistry, and of course, lots of small-town charm, then you should definitely check this out!

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#TopTenTuesday: Books to Read If You Like Small Town Romance…

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.). 

I wasn’t quite feeling this week’s topic because I’m not all that great at recommending anything to others whether it’s books, shows, movies, etc. I wasn’t sure what I would’ve gone with either but as I’m currently reading a romance series set in a small town, I thought why not just share a list of my favourite small-town romances? I know this is a pretty specific sub-genre but I love a good small-town romance especially when the town feels like its own character. There’s so much family and friendship history in these romances, plus, there are meddling townspeople that are usually well-meaning and endearing! With all the history there’s always lots of friends-to-lovers, second chances, enemies-to-lovers, and marriages of convenience—all of which are some of my favourite romance tropes!

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Book Review: Main Street Dealmaker by Brighton Walsh

Goodreads: Main Street Dealmaker (Holidays in Havenbrook #1)
Published: 28 October 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

There’s no doubt these opposites attract, but there’s no way there could be any kind of a future for a wedding planner and a divorce attorney…right?

All Sadie Rollins wants for Christmas is a break. Three years ago, she stumbled into her dream job as a wedding planner, but she’s been so bogged down with the minutiae of inn ownership that she can’t even enjoy it. She and her twin sister might have been bequeathed the Starlight Haven Inn, but the bed and breakfast didn’t come with much more than extra-long hours and piles of debt.

Cole Donovan was looking for a fresh start when he moved to Havenbrook following the worst kind of betrayal. Instead, his reputation as a cutthroat divorce attorney preceded him–and tainted his introduction to the only woman he’s had eyes for since his own divorce. Too bad she can’t stand him.

When Sadie’s cousin offers her an opportunity to have the inn featured in the country’s leading wedding magazine in exchange for a bit of modeling, she jumps at the chance for some exposure. All she has to do is wear a wedding dress and pretend to be smitten with a stranger for a couple hours. The only trouble is the fake groom is no stranger, and as much as she loathes Cole, her body hasn’t gotten the message. Neither, it seems, has his…

TL;DR: This short romance has absolutely convinced me that I need to read more of Brighton Walsh’s books and lucky for me, I have the second in this series already lined up on my Kindle. I really enjoyed this opposites-attract small-town holiday romance and if you’re looking for the perfect holiday read to add to your list, this is the one! Sadie and Cole were such a great couple and they had sizzling chemistry and banter that added to the fire of their sexual attraction!

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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.

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ARC Review: Puck Shy by Teagan Hunter

Special thanks to Teagan Hunter and her team for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Puck Shy (Carolina Comets #1)
Publication Date: 28 October 2021
Genre: Sports Romance
Panda Rating:


I’m having the definition of a bad year.
Game Six loss costing my team the Cup? Check.
Getting arrested and ruining my image? Check.
Almost getting run over after my car breaks down? Oh, look—a hat trick.

My contract is up with the Carolina Comets this year, and I need to get it together if I want to stay with the team.
I need relaxation, not a relationship.
But when I’m scrolling on a dating app and stumble across the pretty girl who almost ran me over, I know I can’t let her walk away this time.

Harper is funny, smart, and doesn’t care about hockey.
I’m not supposed to be focusing on anything other than my career, yet I can’t get Harper off my mind.
I know I shouldn’t fall for her…but I think I already have.
PUCK SHY is a standalone hockey romantic comedy. It’s good, low angst fun with some hot hockey players.

I’m a Missouri-raised gal, but currently live in North Carolina with my US Marine husband and 9-year-old dog. I spend my days begging him for a cat, and I survive off coffee, pizza, and sarcasm. When I’m not writing, you can find me binge-watching various TV shows, especially Supernatural and One Tree Hill. I like cold weather, buy more paperbacks than I’ll ever read, and I never say no to brownies.

Writing is my passion, and this is just the beginning of my journey.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Newsletter | Reader Group

TL;DR: This was a great start to a new sports romance series! Harper and Collin were super likeable characters and their romance, albeit a little cheesy at times, was really sweet. Their goofy and flirty banter brought had me constantly smiling as I read, and I loved seeing them get to know each other and slowly fall in love. There are also some great friendships in this story, Harper and Ryan are hilarious besties, and I can’t wait to meet more of the Carolina Comets in future books!

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Book Review: Seducing the Sorcerer by Lee Welch

Goodreads: Seducing the Sorcerer
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 23 September 2021
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Homeless and jobless, Fenn Todd has nearly run out of hope. All he has left is his longing for horses and the strength of his own two hands. But when he’s cheated into accepting a very ugly sackcloth horse, he’s catapulted into a world of magic, politics and desire.

Fenn’s invited to stay at the black tower, home of the most terrifying man in the realm: Morgrim, the court sorcerer. Morgrim has a reputation as a scheming villain, but he seems surprisingly charming—and sexy—and Fenn falls hard for him.

However, nothing is as it seems and everyone at the tower is lying about something. Beset by evil hexes, violent political intrigue and a horse that eats eiderdowns, Fenn must make the hardest choices of his life.
Can a plain man like Fenn ever find true love with a scheming sorcerer?

TL;DR: It took me a while to get engaged in the story but this might have more to do with my reading mood right now than the story itself. The magical sack horse is what piqued my interest but it was the romance that made me stay with the book because Fenn and Morgrim are so awkward and sweet that it made me want to scoop them up and put them in my pocket for safekeeping! They are so adorable and their romance was a delightful mix of vulnerability and tender moments mixed with some light BDSM in the bedroom and it was a great combination! 😉

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Book Review: The Rake of Hearts by Emily Windsor

Goodreads: The Rake of Hearts (A Lady to Suit #2)
Publisher: Senara Press Ltd
Published: 02 April 2020
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

When the heart is afire…
By his own admission, Lord Ernest Brook is a rake. With sapphire gaze, sinfully handsome looks and a duke for a brother, the pleasures of London have come with ease…apart from one.
Ever since the gauntlet of her first wintry dismissal was thrown, the widowed Hebe Lock has stirred his deepest desires, but just what would it take to woo such a woman?

Sparks will fly.
Hebe Locke has vowed to never again fall for a scoundrel after her brief marriage to one left her broken and haunted.
Now she finds comfort with paintbrush and canvas, but as a female artist in a male world, commissions are as rare as a ballroom without rakes.

A castle of enchantment.
As the heat of late summer warms the land, an ancient, moated castle plays host to a widow and a rake, both concealing passions contrary to their reputations.
But as Lord Ernest awakens Hebe’s desire and thaws her frozen emotions, can she hold true to her vow?
Or can this rake win the one heart he yearns for?

Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.

TL;DR: After meeting Ernest in his brother’s story, The Duke of Diamonds, and getting a glimpse of the potential romance between him and Mrs. Locke, I had a feeling that I’d love their story and I wasn’t wrong! Who knew that a rake could be so devastatingly sweet? Honestly, if Ernest had pointedly looked at me over the top of his glasses across the table, I’d probably have swooned into my pudding too! 😂 I found the writaing just as full of wit and warmth in this book and there were some great laugh-out-loud moments as well, especially as Hebe and Ernest playfully antagonise each other at the beginning!

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Book Review: The Duke of Diamonds by Emily Windsor

Goodreads: The Duke of Diamonds (A Lady to Suit #1)
Publisher: Senara Press Ltd
Published: 02 April 2020
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

In the coldest flint, there is fire…
Casper Brook, the eighth Duke of Rothwell, has forever spurned frivolous pleasures, his restless emotions remaining buried beneath duty and command.
Yet when a titian-haired minx perches upon his ducal desk and claims to know the whereabouts of his one burning obsession, a game of wits and passion erupts…

Fire ignites from a spark…
Miss Evelyn Pearce possesses naught but a frail young sister and an ebony-black cat. Left destitute by her baronet father’s spendthrift ways, fate and talent hand her the opportunity to seek escape from the dangerous alleys of London town.
The cold Duke of Diamonds holds the key, and all Evelyn must do is resist his not-so-cold kiss…

A dance of flaming desire…
A passion forged on secrets can never be satisfied, but as guises fall and plots unravel, will the duke’s controlled façade shatter to reveal his searching heart within?
Regency romance with warmth and wit. This book contains sensual scenes.

TL;DR: The Duke of Diamonds was such an entertaining and well-written regency romance that 100% made me feel immersed in the setting. I love how the author really incorporated the slang of the times as it made it seem more authentic. The characters had depth and their romance was a sweet slow-burn that was worth the wait when they finally get their HEA. This is a fun start to a new series and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a historical romance that doesn’t have historical heroes that conduct themselves questionably!

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Book Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

Goodreads: Credence
Publisher: Penelope Douglas LLC
Published: 13 January 2020
Genre: New Adult Dark Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Three of them, one of her, and a remote cabin in the woods. Let the hot, winter nights ensue…

Tiernan de Haas doesn’t care about anything anymore. The only child of a film producer and his starlet wife, she’s grown up with wealth and privilege but not love or guidance. Shipped off to boarding schools from an early age, it was still impossible to escape the loneliness and carve out a life of her own. The shadow of her parents’ fame followed her everywhere.

And when they suddenly pass away, she knows she should be devastated. But has anything really changed? She’s always been alone, hasn’t she?

Jake Van der Berg, her father’s stepbrother and her only living relative, assumes guardianship of Tiernan who is still two months shy of eighteen. Sent to live with him and his two sons, Noah and Kaleb, in the mountains of Colorado, Tiernan soon learns that these men now have a say in what she chooses to care and not care about anymore.

As the three of them take her under their wing, teach her to work and survive in the remote woods far away from the rest of the world, she slowly finds her place among them.
And as a part of them.
She also realizes that lines blur and rules become easy to break when no one else is watching.
One of them has her.
The other one wants her.
But he…
He’s going to keep her.

*Credence is a full length, stand-alone romance suitable for readers 18+.

TL;DR: This book is not going to be for everyone but I’m glad I gave Penelope Douglas another try with this book. It’s taboo AF and there’s a lot of outrageous things that won’t sit well with many readers (dub con, bullying, violence) so I would highly recommend checking out content/trigger warnings before picking it up. That said, Penelope Douglas masterfully sets the scene in the remote mountains and it really does feel like anything can happen—and it does, obvi. PD also does something with these characters that had me wholly invested in their story that I literally stayed up all night to finish this almost 500-page book.

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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!