If You Ask Me Review

Summary (from the publisher): Violet Covington pens Dear Sweetie, the most popular advice51JgMx0ASTL column in the state of North Carolina. She has an answer for how to politely handle any difficult situation…until she discovers her husband, Sam, has been cheating on her. Furious and out of sensible solutions, Violet leaves her filter at the door and turns to her column to air her own frustrations. The new, brutally honest Dear Sweetie goes viral, sending more shock waves through Violet’s life. When she burns Sam’s belongings in a front-yard, late-night bonfire, a smoking-hot firefighter named Dez shows up to douse the flames, and an unexpected fling quickly shows potential to become something longer lasting.
A lot of people want to see the old polished Violet return—including her boss, who finds her unpredictability hard to manage, and Sam, who’s begging for another chance. But Dez appreciates Violet just the way she is—in fact, he can’t get enough of her. The right answers don’t come easily when Violet finds herself at her own personal crossroads. But maybe, by getting real, Violet can write her own happy ending.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I read Libby Hubscher’s debut, Meet Me in Paradise, last year on my first beach day of the season and I remember absolutely devouring it over my beach day. Fortunately, I had the same must-read-the-entirety-of-this-book-now approach with her latest release, If You Ask Me!

If You Ask Me follows newspaper advice columnist, Violet, whose life falls apart just as she receives the news that her column is up for national syndication – she literally walks in on her husband in bed with their neighbor. In a very non-Violet way, Violet’s bonfire of her husband’s belongings leads the local firefighters coming to her house to put out the flame, including Dez. Dez is any woman’s dream man, and Violet can’t help but fall for him even as her life crashes down around her.

I ate up If You Ask Me in about two sittings. There’s just something about Libby Hubscher’s  writing style and plot that grabs me immediately. Her books have this lightness to them, as seen in Dez and Violet’s banter and Violet’s relationships with her mom & friends. There is seriousness to the book, including but not limited to, in Violet’s case, cheating and miscarriage. Violet and her husband, Sam, struggled with infertility and miscarriages throughout their marriage. Violet receives harsh comments about motherhood and her miscarriages throughout, bringing attention to  issues that many women experience but aren’t talked about. I thought Libby Hubscher well-balanced the book’s harder moments with light and fluffy scenes. Dez is any romance reader’s dream man, between his career as a firefighter, his caring attitude, and his love for books and movies.

I also really liked the book’s storytelling style, flipping between Libby’s present, her Dear Sweetie advice columns, and a handful of scenes set in the past exploring her marriage. Violet makes some rash decisions throughout, with both positive and negative consequences. The book is really about becoming her self through ignoring people’s criticism and being intentional about her actions and the people she includes in her life. 

I normally don’t read the excerpt of an authors’s upcoming release at the end of a book , but I just had to read the first few pages of Libby Hubscher’s 2023 release, Play For Me. Based on those few pages, I am already SO ready for this book, following an pro baseball athletic trainer who loses her job after making a necessary decision that influences a big baseball game (played by the Boston Red Sox) and decides on a fresh start as an athletic trainer at a boarding school in Maine. I will now basically read anything that Libby Hubscher writes, but I especially need this book now!

Have you read If You Ask Me or Meet Me in Paradise? What were your thought? What contemporary romances have you been loving lately? Share in the comments!

2022 Most Anticipated Releases: Contemporary Romance & Adult Fiction Edition 

My annual anticipated release posts are some of my favorite blog posts to write & share each year. I use Goodreads and Instagram as my go-to new/upcoming book sources , as well as keeping an eye on my favorite authors and seeing/knowing that they have new books coming out in the year. 

I’ll continue to publish seasonal anticipated release posts throughout the year (I always, of course, end up having more books to share as more get announced), but today I’m sharing the contemporary romances and adult fiction releases I’m most looking forward to. I decided to combine these two genres because there is some crossover with some books & I didn’t want to make another post with just a handful of adult fiction titles. I’ll be sharing my most anticipated YA books in a separate post. The books below are ordered by release date.

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon | Release Date: January 11

Rachel Lynn Solomon is one of my favorite contemporary authors, both YA and contemporary romance. Like her contemporary romance debut, The Ex Talk, Weather Girl has a really unique workplace premise, following a TV meteorologist and sports reporter trying to reunite their divorced busses – it kind’ve reminds me of Always Be My Maybe on Netflix! 

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka | RD: January 25

I have been anticipated Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s contemporary romance debut since it was announced, The Roughest Draft. I feel like this book is Emily and Austin’s writing partnership life meets Beach Read meets friend-to-lovers. 

Read More »

 Favorite Books of 2021: Contemporary Romance Edition 

It’s time for one of my favorite posts of the year: my annual favorite contemporary romance list! Whether you’ve been following me for a short time or my near five (!!!) years of blogging (my five year anniversary of Fangirl Fury is in February!), you know that I am a huge contemporary reader, with most of my focus on contemporary romance. Today I’m going to be sharing my FAVORITE contemporary romance reads of the year and my honorable mentions. There’s a chance I may do some re-reading this month to decide my #1 pick, but you’ll find out below which two books were my absolute favorites – instead of building anticipation, I decided to just list them at the top!

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood 

The Love Hypothesis completely blew up and is still deservedly doing so and the hype is 110% worth the hype. As a Star Wars fan, I loved the Kylo Ren & Rey inspiration (look at the cover alone!) and this book nailed every single element. I loved the academic premise and slight enemies-to-lovers trope.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Yes, Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation is tied with The Love Hypothesis as my FAVORITE book of 2021. There’s something that just clicks with me and Emily Henry’s writing style right from the get-go that makes me know that I’m going to love the book. I don’t read too many best friends-to-lovers romances. Poppy and Alex’s dynamic was so pure and funny, and I love the story-telling, alternating between their current vacation gone-wrong and their past trips together. And I’ve heard from early reviewers & Taylor Jenkins Reid’s advance blurb that Emily Henry’s 2022 release, Book Lovers, is her best yet. 

Read More »

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.

.

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

2021 FAVORITE ROMANCE: The Love Hypothesis Review

9780593336823Summary (from the publisher): 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 is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, 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 Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope. 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Rating:

Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis has been EVERYWHERE (& as you’ll find out in this review, VERY deservedly so) in the second half of 2021. I’ve had a very busy start to the fall with back-to-school season, so I admittedly have been sleeping on some new anticipated releases and have been just putting them on hold from my county library. And with publishing and printing delays, new books have been taking even longer to come in. The Love Hypothesis had been especially hard to find with the supply chain shortage & Ali Hazelwood even shared on Instagram that the book was way more popular than her publisher could have imagined, which meant they need to print more copies ASAP. That all being said, between having a quiet weekend and my local Barnes & Noble finally getting The Love Hypothesis back in stock, I decided to get my hands-on the most popular & BEST contemporary romance this fall. 

I knew I was likely going to enjoy The Love Hypothesis just for its fake dating meets academia synopsis, which I had shared in my Fall 2021 Anticipated Releases post, but I recently discovered before reading that the book is loosely based on Kylo Ren & Rey from Star Wars…which made even more sense considering the male lead, Dr. Adam Carlsen, looks a lot like Adam Driver on the cover & in the book… and is also named Adam. Anyways, The Love Hypothesis follows biology Ph.D. candidate, Olive, who in hopes of convincing her best friend that she’s really over her ex so said best friend will just go for it & date him, kisses the closest guy in sight…whom happens to be young hotshot professor who’s known for d making grad students cry, Dr. Adam Carlsen. Olive is not only shocked by Carlsen going with the kiss, but even more so when the two decide to fake date to help Olive out & convince Stanford that Carlsen has no plans of leaving the university so he can keep his research funding.

Read More »

2021 FAVE SEQUEL: Isn’t It Bromantic? Review

Summary (from the publisher):

55470802With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikovas has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Is it really that much of a surprise that this book was a full 5 star read for me? Ever since I read The Bromance Book Club, I had been hoping for an installment following The Russian, or Vlad as we get to know him in Isn’t It Bromantic?. Lyssa Kay Adams announced around the publication of book #2, Undercover Bromance, that the fourth book in this companion series would focus on the funny and super lovable hockey star.

 Isn’t It Bromantic? is similar to The Bromance Book Club (the first book) in the sense that the book follows two marriages on the breaking point. However, what is super unique about Vlad and Elena’s marriage compared to Gavin and Thea’s marriage is that Vlad and Elena have a marriage of convenience and have spent little to no time with one another since they were married six years ago. As soon as they married, Elena fled to Chicago to get her journalism degree and crack the story her father was working on before he disappeared years ago, while Vlad became the best defenseman on Nashville’s pro hockey team. When Vlad suffers from an injury in a playoff game, Elena returns to Nashville to help take care of him and the two begin to heal their relationship.

Read More »

December 2020 Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition

I always try to write reviews within 1-3 days right after finishing the book, but winter break brain has gotten to me – I’m not necessarily feeling guilty about this because I minimized as much time as possible on my laptop over the holidays and ate up as many books as possible. Between blogging in chunks this month and reading so, so much, I have plenty of mini reviews ready to go, including today’s reviews focused on contemporary romance and adult contemporary.

I know I usually include only 3 books in my mini review round-ups, but I decided to go with 5 of my recent reads from December since some of my reviews are on the shorter side (with the exception of one where I ranted a bit longer than I first thought while drafting the review, oops).

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I’ve been doing my best to keep up with as many new contemporary romances as possible in 2020, which led me to pick up Jane Igharo’s debut novel, Ties That Tether. Its cover immediately caught my attention one day while scrolling through bookstagram and I was equally intrigued by its synopsis. The novel follows Azere, a twenty-five year old Nigerian Canadian woman who has always been pressured by her family to only marry a Nigerian man. Azere’s mom is always setting her up on dates with Nigerian men, and feels even more pressured after promising her father before he died that she would marry a Nigerian man. Things get complicated for Azere when she meets Rafael, who is everything Azere wants in a guy…except he’s white. Things get even MORE complicated for Azere and Rafael when their one night stand turns into something a lot more complicated than they could have imagined.

Although it has some classic contemporary romance lightness and humor, Ties That Tether is definitely one of the more serious contemporary romances I’ve read for its discussions surrounding race, ethnicity, and culture. I haven’t read a contemporary romance that deals with a conflict like the pressure Azere feels from her family to marry a man from her culture. The book goes beyond who Azere should marry, as Azere has felt she has never been able to embrace both of her cultures as a Nigerian AND Canadian woman. 

What I ultimately wasn’t didn’t like about Ties That Tether was the romance. I was never really super in love with Rafael, and I didn’t think the few chapters from his perspective were necessary. Although they added some mystery, I think his big reveals would’ve still be impactful strictly coming from Azere’s perspective. I really thought at one point that Azere was perhaps going to realize that Rafael wasn’t the guy for her. I never really felt any deep chemistry between them, which could’ve resulted from the fact that they both have something to hide. I wish Azere would have been honest with him earlier about how her family feels about who she should marry. I also wasn’t super in love with the love triangle, as Azere’s mom keeps pressuring her to date a guy from her past… and he keeps just randomly showing up??

I enjoyed the book mostly for Azere’s personal growth and as much as she killed me for her stubborness, seeing how Azere and mom would resolve their conflict. I know a few readers have been mixed on revealing this spoiler, so I’ll stay vague, but there’s an added layer to Azere and Rafael’s relationship that I personally haven’t read too much in contemporary romances. An addition to their relationship (trying to be as non-spoilery as possible) puts so much pressure on their progress and causes more anger from Azere’s mom. Although Ties That Tether isn’t my new favorite contemporary romance, I enjoyed it because the novel tackles a few themes and plot elements I personally haven’t encountered  too much in other contemporary romances.

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Jenny Holiday’s A Princess for Christmas is the perfect holiday book for readers who love Hallmark Christmas movies or even some of Netflix’s cheesy Christmas movies. The book’s synopsis is literally a play on what’d you expect in one of those films, and the book does have a few references to Hallmark movies. Leo, a cab driver living in NYC doing his best to make ends meet and raise his little sister, gives an unexpected cab ride to the princess of Eldovia, Marie. Marie is in the city on royal business, but soon finds herself trying to spend any free opportunity with Leo and his sister, Gabby, until she decides to invite them back to Eldovia for the holidays. 

A Princess for Christmas was the quintessential, fluffy holiday read I was craving. Is it the best book I ever read? Not exactly. But was it better than most cheesy Christmas movies I could’ve watched instead? Absolutely! A Princess for Christmas was just so atmospheric. Like my recent Dash & Lily watch on Netflix, it made me so nostalgic for holiday-time NYC, like the scene where Leo and Marie goes ice skating in what I believe was Rockefeller Center. The Eldovia setting was also the holiday away of many of your dreams (picture any royal town in a Hallmark or Netflix movie), with Leo and Gabby staying in Marie’s palace in the snow. I knew A Princess for Christmas was a romance, but due to its fluffiness, I didn’t expect the romance scenes to be that STEAMY. Overall, A Princess for Christmas was the cute & festive holiday read that you may be crave during winter. Read More »

Favorite Books of 2020: Contemporary Romance Edition

I hope everyone has been enjoying time off over the holiday season. I mentioned last week in my favorite adult fiction and non-fiction books of 2020 post that I should’ve had a review posted on this past Saturday … but I’ll be totally honest & admit that I unexpectedly took a laptop break from Tuesday into Sunday afternoon. I’ve been off from school and work for the past 2 weeks, but it wasn’t until Christmas Eve Eve (yes, it’s absolutely a thing) that I really minimized my time on my laptop and ended up not turning it back on for nearly five days. If you’re someone like me who has been glued to her laptop screen between school and work this year, I highly recommend taking a break from the screen this week. I also completely admit I got distracted by a few books AND Bridgerton on Netflix! 

Anyway, today I’ll be sharing my final favorites post of 2020 with my favorite contemporary romances of the year! I shared my favorite young adult books of 2020 last Wednesday. I decided to save my contemporary romance favorites for my final favorites wrap up because contemporary romance was my absolute favorite genre in 2020. So many of the books below had the perfect blend of fluff and distraction I craved, while also often having depth and really unique premises. Out of my three favorites post this year, I had the most difficult time narrowing down my favorite contemporary romances between absolute favs and honorable mentions. 

Favorite Contemporary Romances of 2020 

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

If there was only one book on this list I could put in every reader’s hands, it would be Hannah Orenstein’s Head Over Heels. Following a former elite gymnast who’s tasked with coaching an Olympic hopeful, this book was so strong as a contemporary itself because of its plot, setting, and character dynamics, but was so enriched because of the relationship between the female and male leads. Head Over Heels 110% solidified Hannah Orenstein as one of my all-time favorite authors. 

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle 

I chose one book as my ultimate #1 favorite in my 2020 YA favorites list, but my favorite romance of the year is seriously a toss up between Head Over Heels and Sarah Hogle’s debut, You Deserve Each Other.  I often say that some of my contemporary romances have funny moments, but You Deserve Each Other is seriously the funniest and most sarcastic contemporary romance I’ve ever read. If only one book could have the ‘rom-com’ label, it’s this one. You Deserve Each Other follows two fiancés on the brink of separation – something I haven’t read in a book before- and I absolutely loved following this dynamic. 

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Emily Henry’s Beach Read rightfully took the contemporary romance world by storm this summer and honestly throughout 2020! This summer romance between two writers might become my new annual kick off to summer reading & beach reading season. 

The Honey Don’t List by Christina Lauren 

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that while Christina Lauren’s newer releases tend to get mixed reviews (especially from early CLo fans), but I’ve been such a fan of their newer books, including The Honey Don’t List. This Fixer Upper inspired romance following a fictional home renovation show’s two personal assistants totally met its synopsis – how can I a bookworm not love a book about a book tour?? – and introduced me to my new favorite CLo protagonist. Read More »

2021 Most Anticipated Releases: Contemporary Romance Edition

Contemporary romance took over my reading in 2020. I still have to analyze my 2020 reading stats and see if I did indeed read more romance than YA this year, but I feel like I was reaching for romance over other genres this year. This trend might stick around for me in 2021, given how many contemporary romances I’m anticipating in 2021! The main reason why I decided to split my anticipated releases into individuals posts for young adult and and romance this year because there are THAT many contemporary romances I’m waiting for in the new year. 

I am considering making an anticipated releases post for adult fiction as well – I began drafting the post, but I only have two books on it so far while crossing my fingers we’ll get Leigh Bardugo’s second Alex Stern book and potentially Sarah J. Maas’ second Crescent City novel (or The World of Throne of Glass finally). 

Most Anticipated Contemporary Romances

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon | Release Date: January 26

Rachel Lynn Solomon’s The Ex Talk is for sure among my MOST anticipated books on this list (if, not my #1 most anticipated read). I absolutely love her YA books and I’m so excited to read her take on my other favorite genre. The book follows two exes who start a new public radio show, where together they give relationship advice. Add it on Goodreads 

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon | RD: February 2 

2021 is seriously the year for my YA favorite authors to enter the adult romance game, including Lily Menon (known in the YA world as, you know, SANDHYA MENON) with Make Up Break Up. The book follows rival app developers, Annika and Hudson, as the compete in a major investment pitch contest. Add it on Goodreads

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | RD: April 6

Sarah Hogle’s debut, You Deserve Each Other, is one of my absolute favorite books of 2020 and made her one of my new auto-read authors. Twice Shy follows a woman who unexpectedly inherits a stately old manor from a great aunt, only to discover that the place needs some serious work and she has to share the place with the grumpy groundskeeper. Add it on Goodreads

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan | RD: April 6

I finally read Rosie Danan’s The Roommate last week. Although it definitely met the hype for me and I loved it’s unique premise (adult entertainment), I wasn’t super in love. However, the hype once again sent me to check out Rosie Danan’s upcoming release, The Intimacy Experiment, and I’m super intrigued by the synopsis. The book follows one of the female main characters from The Roommate, Naomi, as she teams up with one of LA’s most eligible bachelors (who also happens to be a rabbi) on a sex education seminar. Add it on Goodreads Read More »