The Royals Next Door Review 

Summary (from the publisher):
56145987Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day–avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.

And she’s happy with how things are–really–until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she’s a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person’s fairy tale is an ordinary woman’s nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison’s no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who’s sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.

But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she’ll need more than Harrison’s strong arms to shield her–she’ll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they’re willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.

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My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Give me any royal-inspired back & I’m already there – not to mention one with a protagonist who is a teacher and runs a romance novel podcast! 

I 100% admit that the cover of The Royals Next Door totally grabbed my attention a few months ago, and I couldn’t also help but love the synopsis. The book follows Piper, an elementary school teacher and romance novel podcast hosts who lives on a small-town island in British Columbia. Piper doesn’t tend to socialize, after leaving her ex-fiancé at the altar years ago and living with & taking care of her mother who struggles with mental illness. Piper’s life definitely gets more interesting though when the British royals Prince Edward & Duchess Monica (picture Meaghan and Harry) move next door, along with their broody and attractive bodyguard, Harrison. As Piper and Harrison adjust to having each other as neighbors and doing their best to protect the royals’ privacy, they soon find themselves trying to have their own happily ever after admins royal scandal.

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 November 2021 Mini Reviews

I shared a What I’ve Been Reading Recently wrap-up last week, but I am back with another wrap-up semi-based off on what I read during the Thanksgiving Break (and by semi, I mean yes I will be sharing a contemporary romance review here soon!). This mini review round-up features a memoir based on a super popular Netflix Mini series, a contemporary fiction read that was SO addicting, and a recently released poetry collection. 

 Palm Beach by Mary Adkins 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Since I’ve been busy with work and life things this fall, I’ve really made an effort to read books that make me excited to read in my free time. Palm Beach had been on my TBR for a while, and then Becca Freeman from Bad on Paper Podcast posted it on her Instagram story raving about it and I immediately put the book on hold from my library. Palm Beach is an adult contemporary fiction read, following  married couple Mickey and Rebecca. Rebecca is a freelance writer whose works focuses on economic inequality and exposing the lives of the wealthy, while Mickey is a Broadway actor and caters in between show jobs. When Mickey loses his ability to sing and is offered to work as a house manger for a multimillionaire, Rebecca, Mickey, and their young son relocate to Palm Beach and soon find themselves involved in the lives of the rich & elite. 

Something about Palm Beach made it the type of book that I just did not want to put down – I managed to read it in less than 4 hours. I loved the character development, following the third person perspectives of Rebecca & Mickey, and much like Rebecca, I loved learning about the couple Mickey works for. In a way, the book reminded me of Laura Hankin’s Happy & You Know It, being that both books should different perspectives of wealth and service jobs like nannying and house managers. I have to admit that the semi-twist/direction of the story involving Rebecca and Mickey’s family felt unexpected in the second half of the story, but overall I thought this was such a thought-provoking and well-written contemporary! Definitely pick this one up if you like slice of life type books that you can’t put down.

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 CUTE CHRISTMAS CONTEMPORARY: The Holiday Swap Review 

81NoNHnVUCLSummary (from the publisher):

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over.

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician’s assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If you are craving a holiday baking completion meets a book with a setting like Gilmore Girls meets The Parent Trap/sister-switching-places shenanigans, look no further than Maggie Knox’s The Holiday Swap.

The Holiday Swap follows identical twin sisters, Cass and Charlie, who both need a break from their careers and decide to switch places for the two weeks leading up to Christmas. After Charlie, a co-host of a popular Christmas baking completion show, has an accident at work that leads her to lose her sense of taste & smell, she convinces Cass, who is running their small-town, family-owned bakery during the busiest time of year, to switch places. As the twins step into each other’s shoes (& baking aprons), Cass and Charlie make some big realizations about their sister’s life…and yes, might develop some feelings for a local fireman and physical’s assistant along the way.

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What I’ve Been Reading Recently: November 2021 Reviews

It’s been another month where I read so MANY books, but don’t write MANY book reviews, oops. Instead of sharing multiple mini reviews or full length reviews about the books I’ve read in November, I’m instead going to be sharing some thoughts of each of them here (similar to wrap-up posts from June & July this summer). While I’ve definitely enjoyed the books below (yes, some more than others) I’ve definitely have been in a mini reading slump/trying to find books that will give me the same feels as two of my FAVORITE recent reads, Ghosts by Dolly Alderton (my first book in November and the Bad on Paper Podcast pick this month) and The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (I am so looking forward to Ali Hazelwood’s novellas coming out next year! – I think I’m going to wait for the print bind-up). 

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ANOTHER 2021 FAVE: Ghosts by Dolly Alderton Review

81ALKGuSwMLSummary (from the publisher): Nina Dean is not especially bothered that she’s single. She owns her own apartment, she’s about to publish her second book, she has a great relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and enough friends to keep her social calendar full and her hangovers plentiful. And when she downloads a dating app, she does the seemingly impossible: She meets a great guy on her first date. Max is handsome and built like a lumberjack; he has floppy blond hair and a stable job. But more surprising than anything else, Nina and Max have chemistry. Their conversations are witty and ironic, they both hate sports, they dance together like fools, they happily dig deep into the nuances of crappy music, and they create an entire universe of private jokes and chemical bliss.

But when Max ghosts her, Nina is forced to deal with everything she’s been trying so hard to ignore: her father’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and so is her mother’s denial of it; her editor hates her new book idea; and her best friend from childhood is icing her out. Funny, tender, and eminently, movingly relatable, Ghosts is a whip-smart tale of relationships and modern life.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I always have some favorite books unexpectedly sneak up on me during the last two months of the year, and this year it includes Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts. Ghosts is the Bad on Paper Podcast November book club pick. I liked the sound of its synopsis, following a thirty two year old woman named Nina who hasn’t the best of luck when it comes to dating, but I swore I kept seeing rave & rave reviews everywhere as soon as it was announced as a BOP pick and it made me need to pick it up ASAP. I was actually in the middle of another book when Ghosts came in from the library & put that book aside to gobble up Ghosts in less than 2 days.

Ghosts is set in 2018 London (yes, it’s a British contemporary but not a chick lit/contemporary romance type of British contemporary), following writer & chef Nina as she decides to finally go on a popular dating app called Linx. Nearly all of Nina’s friends, including her childhood best friend Katherine and even her ex-boyfriend but still friend Joe, have all moved on and are in the engaged/married/married-with-kids part of life, while Nina feels like she is constantly reminded of her singledom alongside her best friend, Lola. Nina’s family life also feels like it is slowly crumbling apart, as her father has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her mother struggles to accept his condition. Nina starts to feel like her life might just be coming together when she meets a man named Max through Linx, only to be ghosted by him weeks later..

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FUN FALL ROMANCE: The Ex Hex Review 

71AW5pqxGTSSummary (from the publisher): Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I know Halloween just wrapped up yesterday (& yes, I was totally playing “All I Want for Christmas is You” in my kitchen last night), but I just had to share my thoughts on the hottest spooky read in the contemporary romance world right now, Erin Sterling’s The Ex Hex! I’ve read Rachel Hawkins’ YA Royals series (her pen name for romance is Erin Sterling), so I was even more interested to read her first contemporary romance. 

I’ll be totally honest, I’m not the biggest spooky season/Halloween person – I’ve dressed up over the years for friends’ parties & nights out (I of course dressed up as Olivia Rodrigo via sour album cover this year) and I’m quite minimal on the fall/Halloween decor – but the fact that The Ex Hex is a contemporary romance definitely caught my attention and it didn’t seem too supernatural/horror for my reading tases, which was ultimately so true! The Ex Hex follows twenty-something which & history professor Vivienne Jones, who experienced the biggest heartbreak of her life when legendary Rhys Penhallow ended their relationship nine years prior….and during that heartbreak, Vivi and her cousin Gwyn may or may not have cursed Rhys and her entire town. With Rhys back to recharge the ley lines and the curse proven to be very much in effect, Vivi and Rhys must work together to break their break-up curse.

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The Magic of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson Review 

Summary (from the publisher):

818W2J8rJgSPhronsie Linnelle was conceived at Woodstock in a serendipitous liaison between a free-spirited hippie and a farmer’s son and was born with magical wonder flickering in her DNA and rationality knit into her bones. All her life she’s been torn between the two. But now that she’s been betrayed by both love and the mother she once idolized, her rational side is winning.

So when her best friend from childhood proposes that they give up on romance and marry each other, Phronsie agrees. Who better to spend your life with than your best friend? Maybe the connection they already have is love. Maybe there’s no falling to be done. But immediately after they announce their engagement, she encounters someone who makes a very charming and compelling argument for revisiting romance.

While her even-keeled stepmother argues for the safety that comes with her new engagement and her mother relays messages from the universe to hold out for true love, Phronsie must look to her own heart to find the answers that have been there all along.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Maddie Dawson’s books have always been on my TBR radar, but I officially added her latest book, The Magic of Found Objects, to my to-be-read stack when itwas announced as Bad on Paper Podcast’s September book club pick. Set in 2006 (this doesn’t really affect the plot other than the fact that they don’t have smart phones & social media), the book follows Phronsie, who after forty-four failed first dates, agrees to marry her childhood best friend, Judd, when the two decide that maybe marriage isn’t about love after all. Judd and Phronsie have made lives for themselves since leaving their New Hampshire hometown behind, but their families are both pretty excited that the two are finally tying the know. Phronsie’s parents don’t exactly have the perfect love story, having conceived Phronsie and her twin brother, Hendrix, at Woodstock and then separating as a couple shortly after. Phronsie is happy to be done with trying to find love, but her engagement leads her to re-evaluate love in her life, including her relationships with her mom & stepmother,….and of course, another guy may or may not come into the picture….

I’ve read books with the best friends-turned-lovers and marriage of convenience tropes, but I haven’t read a book with the same best friend trope as The Magic of Found Objects. Phronsie & Judd definitely have chemistry as friends, but they struggle to get that same chemistry as a couple. I really didn’t know what to ultimately expect (if they would actually get married or not), and I do have to admit I really liked the guy who messes with Phronsie’s plan, Adam. Adam and Phronsie both work for the same publishing company and have to work on the same book tour for a beloved children’s book author whose latest book is quite controversial & wrong, to say the least. Side note that I did not know going into the book that Phronsie had a love for writing and worked in publishing as a publicist. This was such a fun addition to the book! 

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DID THIS MEET THE HYPE?: The Inheritance Games Review

51Gv-CkrYOL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Summary (from the publisher): Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

A ton of books have well-deservedly gotten so much hype and praise through Tik Tok this year, & I’d argue that Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ The Inheritance Games was one of the top YA books (if not the #1 book) to get so much love & attention. I was kind’ve mixed on reading The Inheritance Games because it had been described as an escape room type book which made me not-so interested in, but something finally made me give in. & I’m so glad I did because The Inheritance Games is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year!

I’ve read Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ Debutantes duology, another really addicting series, and definitely recommend checking out that mystery series if you’ve already read book #2, The Hawthorne Legacy, & you’re waiting for Inheritance Games book #3). The Inheritance Games definitely fits into the YA mystery category with a ton of suspense & a touch of romance (hello love triangle).The book follows Avery Kylie Grambs, who has had a ton of misfortune in her life, but her life completely changes when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne leaves nearly his entire estate to Avery, much to the Hawthorne family’s dismay. Avery has never met Tobias Hawthorne, and there’s another catch to the inheritance: she has to live in the sprawling, secret passage & puzzle-filled Hawthorne mansion with his four grandsons and other family members for one year before getting the estate. Avery and the Hawthornes all want to know why Avery inherited the fortune and not themselves, so the book mainly follows Avery stepping to her new role as Hawthorne and heiress and searching the mansion for clues.Read More »

Any Way the Wind Blows Review

Summary (from the publisher): In Carry On, Simon Snow and his friends realized that everything they thought they understood about the world might be wrong. And in Wayward Son, they wondered whether everything they understood about themselves might be wrong.81q-qNwhu6L

In Any Way the Wind Blows, Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha have to decide how to move forward.

For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages — and if he doesn’t, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she’s smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn’t sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough.

Any Way the Wind Blows takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet.

This book is a finale. It tells secrets and answers questions and lays ghosts to rest.

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OFF-CAMPUS & ALEXIS DARIA SEQUELS: Romance Mini Reviews 

Starting off this Wednesday by sharing 2 recent romance reads of mine! I usually try to wait & share my mini reviews until I have at least 3 books to share, but I want to be a little bit more proactive about making my mini reviews, you know, recent by sharing them somewhat close to when I’ve read them. I unexpectedly took a week long break from blogging last week (I  shared some thoughts about burnout 2 weeks), mostly because I worked all throughout last weekend and had a really busy week that left no time for blog writing at night, but I feel more rejuvenated coming into blogging this week. Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on two popular romance sequels: A Lot Like Adiòs and The Legacy.

A Lot Like Adiòs by Alexis Daria

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I really liked Alexis Daria’s 2020 releases, You Had Me at Hola, so I looked forward to continuing the Primas of Power companion series with A Lot Like Adiòs. This best friends-to-lovers contemporary romance follows Jasmine’s cousin, Michelle, and her (former) best friend, Gabe, who is back in the Bronx for the first time in nearly ten years to oversee the expansion of his gym. Gabe’s partner hired Michelle, a freelance graphic designed, to help them work on the project without Gabe’s knowledge and the two are forced to reconcile the past & their feelings for one another. 

I think I actually liked A Lot Like Adiòs a little bit more than You Had Me at Hola, mostly because we definitely don’t have as many best friends-to-lovers romances as we do like other popular tropes such as fake dating & enemies-to-lovers (which don’t get me wrong, are two of my favorite tropes). A Lot Like Adiòs was a really refreshing read and things get steamy pretty early on the book.. meaning that we don’t wait for Gabe & Michelle to jump back into their feelings for one another. Just like You Had Me at Hola, the book also tackles family issues, mental health, and career aspirations. Overall, I recommend reading this one if you want more friends-to-lovers reads and want to revisit the world of You Had Me at Hola. Looking forward to seeing what the third prima’s, Ava, will be about! 

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