LIVE LOVE CLO: The Soulmate Equation Review

the-soulmate-equation-9781982123963_hrSummary (from the publisher):Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

I’ve mentioned it before, but I am part of the “newer Christina Lauren releases” fan club, including their May 2021 release, The Soulmate Equation. The book features all the classic CLo hallmarks, but it is definitely a standout for its DNA matchmaking premise and for what I believe is their first standalone CLo book with a single mom as the main protagonist. Jess is roped in by her romance author of a best friend, Fizzy, to partake in a DNA-based matchmaking company in hopes of finding a great date. However, Jess is ultimately matched with one of the lead, broody scientists, River. Since Jess and River have the highest compatibility rate the company has ever seen, they pay Jess to give her and River’s attraction a trial run, which of course leads to something more….

The Soulmate Equation was another solid CLo installment! They have really become one of my most trusted authors, knowing that I’ll either really enjoy or love any of their books, no matter the premise. I really liked Jess as a main protagonist for her personality & career. It was cool to have female STEM representation, as Jess is a freelance mathematician/data analyst. I do admit that I fell a tiny bit more in love with the book’s ‘secondary’ characters, like Jess’ best friend, Fizzy, and her seven year old daughter, Juno. Fizzy is a romance book author whose writing may or may not take inspiration from Jess’ data (mis)adventures and she had so many great one liners- maybe we’ll get some sort of Fizzy inspired spin-off? I really liked the family aspect in The Soulmate Equation, as Jess is super close with her daughter and her grandparents. 

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MY NEW FAVORITE HOLIDAY ROMANCE: In a Holidaze Review

Summary (from the publisher):

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.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

When Christina Lauren announced that they would be coming out with a HOLIDAY romance earlier this year, the contemporary romance & holiday fangirl that I am ran to add it to my TBR. I know readers are divided on CLO’s newer releases (the division seems to be around their books published pre-2019 vs. during 2019), but I have personally loved their newer releases, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon, and The Honey-Don’t List all included. In a Holidaze seems to be another CLo release that readers either LOVED or felt meh about, but I’m so, so happy to report that I absolutely loved this one! I plan on doing a ‘ranking my favorite CLo books’ post one day (I still need to read a bit more of their backlist), but just know In a Holidaze is for sure in my top five favorites. 

In a Holidaze is a holiday romance, following Mae and her family’s annual vacation to a family friends’ cabin in Utah for the week leading up to Christmas. The week at the cabin is always Mae’s favorite time of the year, with her immediate family coming together to hang out with her parents’ college friends and their families. Mae’s favorite week of the year soon becomes her least favorite when she drunkenly makes out with the son of her mom’s best friend, Theo, while harboring feelings for Theo’s older brother, Andrew. On top of all that, Andrew and Theo’s parents share at the end of the trip that they plan on selling the cabin. On the way to the airport, Mae finds herself wishing for her to figure out what make her happy and after a freak accident, she finds herself transported back in time to the beginning of the trip.

I 100% admit that I was also hesitant going into In a Holidaze because I’m usually not a fan of the time loop plot trope, but it totally worked for me in this book! It wasn’t repeated as much as I thought it would be, and even when Mae began a new loop, I love how CLo just jumped ahead to where we left off the first time. Read More »

FAN FAVORITE ROM-COM: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating Review

joshhazelSummary (from the publisher): Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

 

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

In my quest to read all the contemporary romance, I had to pick up Christina Lauren’s fan favorite, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. I started reading Christina Lauren last year and started with their newer titles, so I’ve been doing some backtracking to their older ones. I’ve read 6 books of theirs so far! Some of my book blogging friends haven’t been super in love with Christina Lauren’s books published after Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and claim that this book is the author duo’s best. It’s so much pressure for me to have to choose my favorite, but I’ll admit that Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is definitely a new favorite Christina Lauren read of mine!

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is one of the best friends-turned-lovers romances I’ve ever read. Josh was Hazel’s TA and biggest crush in college, and she reconnects with him seven years later at a barbecue. Hazel is insistent on becoming Josh’s best friend and getting him back into the dating pool after a bad break-up. The two set each other up on a series on double dates, but have more fun with each other than with the people they set each other up with.

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This book honestly feels like it could be so easily turned into a movie without any changes. You immediately fall in love with Hazel and Josh from the start. Hazel just might be one of the most perfect romance leads I’ve ever read. She’s funny and quirky, and honestly makes for the perfect third grade teacher. I haven’t read too many books with a teacher as a protagonist and I loved it! Hazel’s best friend (who also happens to be Josh’s sister and brother-in-law). There are a lot of books with protagonists who think they’re less than perfect, but Hazel completely owns and carries herself out with confidence. My only ‘complaint’ is that as much as she is confident, she often says that she ‘undateable.’Read More »

HONEY READ ME: The Honey-Don’t List Review

Summary (from the publisher):

71qWViPHwYLCarey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If you’ve been keeping up with my current contemporary romance quest, you’ll know that I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with Christina Lauren’s books. And the latest book of this writing duo’s that has caused my feels is their latest release, The Honey-Don’t List. I’m also seriously in love with this book’s cover! The Honey-Don’t List follows Carey and James, two personal assistants to one of America’s reality TV, home improvement couples, the Tripps. One thing America doesn’t know about the Tripps? They can’t stand each other. On the eve of the Tripps’ book tour, James and Carey are forced to join in on their West Coast adventure to keep the peace – and their jobs.

Regardless of its synopsis, I will pick up any Christina Lauren book, but I was especially sold on The Honey Don’t-List’s premise. It must be something about being in your twenties that makes me want to watch a HGTV show or three (and take a trip to Waco, Texas to visit an IRL home improvement couple’s market and bakery). And don’t forget the extra bookish bonus points this one gets for taking place during a BOOK tour.

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The Honey-Don’t List has been receiving some mixed reviews, but this book was a near-perfect fluff read for me. The only ‘complaint’ I have is that I don’t really understand the  reasoning behind the book’s title. There’s maybe a handful of references to Mel’s infamous ‘honey-do’ lists for Rusty, but they’re never really explained. They didn’t necessarily need to be, but I feel like they should’ve been since they allude to the title. I interpreted then the ‘don’t’ in the title as the fact that there’s a lot Rusty and Mel can’t do on tour and things Carey and James can’t risk in fear of losing their jobs.Read More »

Adult Romance & Contemporary Love: March 2020 Mini Reviews

I’ve actually done a pretty good job of writing full reviews for most of the books I’ve read so far in 2020. I’ll have more reviews coming in the next few weeks as more spring releases coming out, but today I’ll be sharing reviews that fall into slightly different adult fiction categories and are both well-read and much-loved: Christina Lauren’s Roomies and Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana.

Roomies by Christina Lauren

81Knrobp2wLMy Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I’ve made it my recent mission to eat up as many Christina Lauren books as possible, which led me to Roomies. I feel like anyone and everyone was reading Roomies back when it came out in 2017, and I felt like it was finally time for me to pick it up! Plus, how could I not further delay a contemporary romance with an Irish male protagonist??

Roomies follows Holland Baker, an aspiring writer who makes too many excuses to stop at the subway station near her apartment to listen to her street-musician crush, Calvin. When Holland’s musical director of an uncle is in desperate need of a lead musician for his hit Broadway show, Holland gets Calvin an audition. The problem? Calvin is in the US illegally, since his student visa expired years ago. The solution? Holland marries the Irishman.

Roomies was such a light-hearted, rom-com journey for Holland and Calvin. While Holland is absolutely head-over-heels for Calvin from the get-go, this book is really about them finding their passion and love for one another. You better believe that the Irish girl that I am absolutely squealed out loud when Calvin gives Holland a gold claddaugh ring. The symbol- love, loyalty, and friendship- sums up their relationship! I also loved the little reminders that Calvin is Irish and has an accent,like  pronouncing “things” like “tings.” The book does take a while to really set the stage (no musical-puns intended) and get the plot going, but I really liked getting to know Holland her life. Yes, the marriage and romance (and yes, the romance scenes towards the end were so good!) are at its heart, but I loved Holland’s uncles and how they act as her support system. Many contemporary romance and Broadway lovers will especially enjoy Roomies’ settings, as it takes place in the NYC theater world. Holland, Calvin, and her uncle, Robert, have such a genuine love for music, and I loved seeing Holland embrace its place in her life even though she isn’t a musician. After finishing Roomies, I basically added all the Christina Lauren books I haven’t yet read to my TBR!Read More »

ROMANCE  & CONTEMPORARY LOVE: Fall Mini Reviews

Monthly mini reviews are hit or miss for me, depending on the amount of books I read and if I have enough thoughts & feels to dedicate entire reviews for them. I read the following three books- a new adult romance from my favorite NA author, an adult romance from a much loved writing duo, and a debut contemporary- in October and November 2019.

The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Ever since I read the last book in the Off-Campus series back in May, I have been highly looking forward to starting Elle Kennedy’s spin-off series, Briar U. The series follows new and old characters involved in new relationships in the (hot) hockey playing world that is the fictional Briar University. The Chase follows Summer, the sister of Dean (the male lead in The Score), as she transfers to Briar U after being kicked out of her Ivy league school after a freaky sorority party accident. When she’s not welcome into Briar U’s chapter, Summer finds herself living with three of the Briar U hockey players, including the tattoo-covered, quiet, artistic and video-game designer Colin, otherwise known as Fitz.

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I was so excited when I found out The Chase’s male lead was Fitz because he was one of my favorite secondary characters in Off-Campus. Summer and Fitz definitely have a slow burn romance, as the two spend the majority of the book not being together. I wish their relationship had progressed sooner, in that nothing really happens in the book until their relationship really begins to bloom. However, I loved getting to follow the characters and their everyday. Much of Summer’s everyday follows her life as a fashion major, dealing with a creepy professor, and the struggles that come with her learning disability. Elle Kennedy incorporates a lot of mature themes with #MeToo vibes. Set in his senior year, Fitz finds himself competing for a full time position at a big video game company.

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STAR-CROSSED SWOON: Twice in a Blue Moon Review

Summary (from the publisher):
During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in 45186670only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

 

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

 Many of my fellow bloggers absolutely love Christina Lauren’s books. This author duo is much loved by both YA and adult book audiences. That being said, I knew it was time to finally pick up one of their books when I was able to get their latest release, Twice in a Blue Moon, at Book Expo 2019.

Twice in a Blue Moon has the perfect crossover appeal for YA and adult readers. This book is all about the love-to-hate-to-maybe-back-to-love trope (watching out for spoilers as always). During a vacation abroad in London, Sam and Tate experience first love.  Tate is one of the first people Sam feels that she can share all her hopes, dreams, and secrets with- including that her estranged father is one of the world’s most famous movie stars. When it is clear that Tate’s trust has been betrayed, her world and first love fall apart. The book then transports readers fourteen years later, when now up-and-coming movie star Tate runs into Sam on a movie set.

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