Book Review: Homecoming King by Penny Reid

Goodreads: Homecoming King (Three Kings #1)
Publisher: Cipher-Naught
Published: 14 December 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Rex “TW” McMurtry’s perpetual single-hood wouldn’t bother him so much if all his ex-girlfriends didn’t keep marrying the very next person they dated, especially when so many of those grooms are his closest friends. He may be a pro-football defensive end for the Chicago Squalls, but the press only wants to talk about how he’s always a groomsman and never a groom. Rex is sick of being the guy before the husband, and he’s most definitely sick of being the best man at all their weddings.

Bartender Abigail McNerny is the gal-pal, the wing-woman, the she-BFF. She’s dated. Once. And once was more than enough. Privy to all the sad stories of her customers, ‘contentment over commitment’ is her motto, and Abby is convinced no one on earth could ever entice her into a romantic relationship . . . except that one guy she’s loved since preschool.

The guy who just walked into her bar.
The guy who doesn’t recognize her.
The guy who is drunk and needs a ride home.
The guy who has a proposition she should definitely refuse.

TL;DR: This was a delightfully binge-able fake-dating/marriage romance that I had a really hard time putting down. Abby and Rex stole my heart and their romance made me swoon and sigh with happiness! I’m eagerly anticipating the next two books in the series, which I’m assuming will be about Cyrus and Alaric(?) and I absolutely cannot wait 😍

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Book Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Goodreads: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1)
Published: 09 June 2020
Genre: Fantasy Romance (Romantasy)

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.

The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.

Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.

I buddy read this with Julie @ One Book More and I’m so glad because I really needed someone to wail to when shit hit the fan and hit the fan shit really did! 🥺 We loved this first book so much and were so shook by that ending we immediately started the second book!

TL;DR: There’s a lot of hype around this book and it’s definitely for good reason. This was an extremely binge-able read that I had a really hard time putting down. I’d recommend this if you enjoy romantasy, but more specifically: vivid fantasy worlds, slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance, a plot full of deception and heart-pounding action, and a romantasy couple that will have your heart swooning with happiness and weeping with angst.

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Book Review: Window Shopping by Tessa Bailey

Goodreads: Window Shopping
Published: 19 October 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

A sizzling, standalone, feel-good holiday romance from Tessa Bailey, New York Times bestselling author of It Happened One Summer.
Two weeks before Christmas and all through Manhattan, shop windows are decorated in red and green satin.
I’m standing alone in front of the famous Vivant department store, when a charming man named Aiden asks my opinion of the décor.

It’s a tragedy in tinsel, I say, unable to lie.
He asks for a better idea with a twinkle in his eye.
Did I know he owned the place? No. He put me on the spot.
Now I’m working for that man, trying to ignore that he’s hot.
But as a down on her luck girl with a difficult past, I know an opportunity when I see one—and I have to make it last.

I’ll put my heart and soul into dressing his holiday windows.
I’ll work without stopping. And when we lose the battle with temptation, I’ll try and remember I’m just window shopping.

TL;DR: This reverse grumpy-sunshine romance was incredibly adorable, delightful, and so full of positive and festive holiday vibes! I think this is also the first romance/book I’ve read that directly references the pandemic, and while it was admittedly a little jarring to see things being so ‘normal’ when it’s still so not normal (and the pandemic so far from over) IRL, it was also nice and hopeful! I loved Stella and Aiden and despite the insta-love moments of their romance, I was sold on their connection and sizzling chemistry and they more than deserved their HEA! 

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Book Review: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Goodreads: In a Holidaze
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: 06 October 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

TL;DR: It has been a long time since I’ve read a CLo book and now I’m wondering why! This book was such a fun and wonderfully festive holiday romance and it served a good dose of feel-good family vibes, a swoony albeit slightly cheesy romance, and likeable characters that you can’t help but root for and wish you were friends with, too! If you’re looking for a holiday read to lose yourself in for a little while, I would definitely recommend this one.

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Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Goodreads: The Love Hypothesis
Publisher: Sphere
Published: 27 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive on her way to a happily ever after was always going to be tough, scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting woman, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when he agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire and Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support (and his unyielding abs), their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion.

Olive soon discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

TL;DR: I honestly don’t know what else to say about this book other than to keep gushing about how swoony the romance was and how happy their interactions made me. I’m so glad that I finally shook off the nerves and dove into this romance because it was amazing. The only regret I have is that it’s over and I already can’t wait to read it again at some point because this has fast become one of my favourite romances—and definitely one of my top reads in 2021! All I can say is READ IT! 

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Book Review: Captain Heartbreaker by Brighton Walsh

Check out my review for the prequel novella Pact with a Heartbreaker!

Goodreads: Captain Heartbreaker (Havenbrook #4)
Publisher: Bright Publishing
Published: 31 March 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Adventure’s in Captain Hudson Miller’s blood. For the past ten years, he’s spent his days in the sky, serving as a pilot for the Army. But where adventure called him away, something—someone—else is calling him home. On post-deployment leave, he escapes to the one place he hasn’t been since he enlisted: Havenbrook, Mississippi. Hometown of his momma’s peach cobbler, enough memories to last a lifetime, and the only girl who ever left an imprint on his heart.

Mackenna Haven thought she’d have her life figured out by now. Instead, she’s a twenty-seven-year-old college dropout who works at her soon-to-be brother-in-law’s bar and lives on her parents’ land. No husband or kids to her name. Not even a consistent weekend booty call. She’s been pretending she’s happy working dead-end jobs in an even deader-end town, but she can’t stop thinking she was meant for more than this.

After a childhood as best friends and a single weekend exploring more, Mackenna and Hudson haven’t seen each other in ten years. But they made a pact that long ago weekend, and Hudson’s coming to make good on his promise. Except she has no interest in it or him. After all, he walked away from her once already, and she’s not interested in opening her heart and allowing him a second chance at destruction. 

TL;DR: If you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers romances and second-chances between two people who have a wonderfully goofy friendship and sizzlingly hot chemistry, then I would definitely recommend this book! This couple is my favourite in this series and probably one of the best friends-to-lovers couples that I can remember reading! Also, if you’re a fan of small-town romances with a memorable cast of supporting characters, then I’d highly recommend checking out the Havenbrook series!

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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?

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Book Review: The Roommate Risk by Talia Hibbert

Goodreads: The Roommate Risk
Publisher: Nixon House
Published: 04 May 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Jasmine Allen believes in bad luck, great wine, and the seductive power of a stiletto heel. What she doesn’t believe in is love. Her life is perfect without all that romance rubbish—until a plumbing disaster screws everything up and leaves Jas homeless. Luckily, she has someone to turn to: her best friend Rahul.

For seven years, Rahul Khan has followed three simple rules.
* Don’t touch Jasmine if you can help it.
* Don’t look at her arse in that skirt.
* And don’t ever—ever—tell her you love her.
He should’ve added another rule: Do not, under any circumstances, let Jas move into your house.

Now Rahul is living with the friend he can’t have, and it’s decimating his control. He knows their shared dinners aren’t dates, their late-night kisses are a mistake, and the tenderness in Jasmine’s gaze is only temporary. One wrong word could send his skittish best friend running.
So why is he tempted to risk it all?

This book was previously published as Wanna Bet?. The Roommate Risk is a steamy, standalone, diverse romance. This book is 75,000 words of fluff, angst, and extreme pleasure, with NO cliffhangers, NO cheating, and a guaranteed HEA. Please be aware: this story contains themes of parental neglect and abandonment, parental death, and alcohol dependence that could trigger certain audiences.

TL;DR: Talia Hibbert can do no wrong. Although this was a tad bit more angsty than I usually enjoy, I couldn’t help but fall head over feet for Jas and especially Rahul. Who gave that man permission to be so perfect? Please! Their chemistry was sizzling, their character development so satisfying and their romance heated things up something fierce! 🥵

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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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