ARC Review: The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev

Special thanks to Amazon Original Stories for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Wedding Setup
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Published: 11 January 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Ayesha Shetty lost her brother seven years ago, the same time she lost everything else important to her: her dreams, her fierce independence, and the man she loved. Not wanting to see her mother hurt anymore, she put her wild self away and became the dutiful daughter her mother needed and took on her brother’s role in the family business.

Now her best friend’s big, fat Indian wedding is a chance to get away from her endless duties at the restaurant and maybe even have some fun (if she remembers how). But a setup arranged by her mother, with a doctor no less, is the last thing she needs. The fact that he checks all her mother’s boxes just makes everything better…and worse.

Then Emmitt Hughes shows up. Her brother’s best friend. The love she once chose over family duties and her responsibilities. The one she asked to leave, and who did. The one who knows the real Ayesha. Torn between a love from the past that could cost her the only person she has left and her sense of obligation to her mother, will Ayesha find the strength to stop thinking about what everyone else wants and finally put herself first? Or is the old Ayesha truly gone for good?

TL;DR: I’m honestly a little disappointed (in myself) that I haven’t picked up anything by Sonali Dev until this short story because I loved everything about this second-chance romance with hilarious and well-intentioned meddling BFFs, mothers, and aunties. Dev’s writing is humorous, heartfelt, and packed with emotion, and her characters were realistic and relatable. If this short story is a good indication of what her full-length romances are like then I’ve definitely been missing out and I absolutely cannot wait to read more of Dev’s books asap!

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Book Review: The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Plight Before Christmas
Published: 19 December 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Clark Griswold was onto something, at least with his annual holiday meltdown. And since the last three weeks of my life have been riddled with humbug—another breakup, a broken toe, an office promotion I deserved and didn’t get—I’m not at all in the mood to celebrate nor have the happ, happ, happiest Christmas EVER.

When Mom insisted that we all gather at my Grandparent’s ancient cabin for an old school family Christmas, I fully intended to get into the holiday spirit with the help of the three wise men, Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam. But those boys did absolutely nothing to offset the shock or temper the sting of seeing my EX on our doorstep the first day of our holiday soiree.

Apparently, Santa missed the memo, and this elf is pissed.
Stuck for a week with the man who obliterated my heart nearly two decades ago, I did the only thing I could do and put on my game face, thankful for the home advantage.

I knew better than to drink that last cup of eggnog.
I knew better than to get tongue tangled beneath the mistletoe with the only man to ever break my heart.
I knew better than to sleep with Satan’s wingman on the eve of the Lord’s birthday.

I could blame the nog. I could blame the deceitful light blue eyes, thick, angelic hair, and panty evaporating smirk…but mostly, I blame Eli because he always knew exactly which of my buttons to push.

I foolishly thought a family Christmas filled with nostalgia was going to turn my inner Scrooge around, but this year’s festivities went up in flames. Leave it to the ghost of my Christmas past to be the one to light the match.

Fa la la la la, la FML. 

TL;DR: It admittedly took me a little while to get into the story but I ended up really enjoying the Christmas vibes, the Collins family, the sibling relationships, and following along with Eli and Whitney’s second-chance romance after a gut-wrenching heartbreak and 17 years apart. This ended up being a bit more serious than I expected (CW/TW below) but the story was well-balanced with light-hearted moments of cheeky banter, swoony romance and steamy moments.

CW/TW: recounting of terminal illness (cancer), parental death, anxiety

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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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ARC Review: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese

Special thanks to Chloe Liese for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

🥳 Happy Book Birthday to Ever After Always! 🥳

Ever After Always (Bergman Brothers #3)
Publication date: 12 January 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)


Buckle up for an emotional journey of hijinks, heartache, and a hot slow-burn in this marriage-in-crisis romance about going the distance to make love last.

Aiden
I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby. With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.

Freya
I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much.  As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?

GET YOUR COPY: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Continue reading “ARC Review: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese”