Best of April 2020

What a month! April was… let’s call it interesting. I don’t know about you, but there have been many changes in my life during the month of April, and while I’ve continued to read every day, my routine has definitely changed. I’ve got less patience for books that aren’t working for me, and I’ve been leaning more heavily on rom coms. While I hit a bit of a book slump mid-month, I seem to have shaken it off now. So while I normally pick my top 5 or 6 books of the month, this time it didn’t seem quite right to do so. Instead, I’ve pared it down to only the four best books of April – and these ones were SO, SO GOOD.

I’ve included my book review for each, so you can see how enthusiastic I was about them (hint: VERY enthusiastic, lol). In case you’re wondering, I typically write my reviews immediately after I finish reading so that I’m still in my book hangover while writing… though occasionally I’ll have to stew about the characters overnight first.

I can’t even tell you how many exciting books are coming out in May – every time I think my TBR is full, another one of my favorite authors announces a release. Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy, BUSY month for reviews! Fair warning: you may want to keep your schedule clear on May 12th and 19th, because there are some amazing releases those days.

Words cannot express how FANTASTIC this book is. I read a lot – and I mean a LOT – of romance novels, and I’m having difficulty thinking of a book I enjoyed more than this one. If this is the author’s debut novel, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. The writing style is absolutely unique and dynamic, flowing easily and drawing you into the story. It took me a little bit to get in the right headspace for it, but once I got deeper into Nicholas and Naomi’s story, I could not put it down. This is like The Hating Game on steroids, with a couple who have lost sight of what they once loved about each other, with so much humor that I found myself bursting out in shocked laughter more than once.

The story follows Naomi, a woman whose engagement marked the beginning of the end for her relationship. Nicholas and Naomi both shared the best sides of themselves while they were dating, and it wasn’t until they moved in together immediately following their engagement that things started to shift. You can’t be your best self 24/7, and when you add in the stress of planning a wedding and a completely overbearing future mother-in-law, things can spiral out of control quickly. Now Naomi has to force her smiles and go over the list of why she should love her fiancé just to get through the day. When Nicholas shows signs of being unhappy too, Naomi realizes they might just be playing chicken to see who will get the other to break first and call the whole thing off.

Told completely from Naomi’s perspective, this definitely takes the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions. When you see a relationship through one person’s eyes – and that person hasn’t been happy in a long time – you can’t be 100% sure that you’re getting the whole picture. It certainly made things interesting, and made me wonder more than once if I was getting things right. Both Naomi and Nicholas have some unflattering moments, but underneath it all is undeniable love. While the first half leans into the comedy, with some truly hilarious moments, the second half is all about the love. Things get deep and so profound that it had me thinking about my own relationship. It’s not until later in the book that we see how perfect these two really are for each other, and it is quite a ride getting there. A big thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC. I am voluntarily leaving a review of this hysterical and heartwarming book.

Kindle Edition:

Amazon Paperback:

I was prepared for this to be a fun, light rom com, but… it was SO MUCH better than I anticipated! This is my first time reading one of Annika Martin’s books, and that cover and title give the impression that this is going to be a surface-level rom com – which, don’t get me wrong, is something I love to read – but Martin managed to build incredible depth to the relationship, pairing angsty moments with some fantastic, playful banter. I loved the grumpy the hero with a heart of gold – Captain Sternpants might not be great with emotions, but Martin is excellent at writing those quiet moments where you can tell the hero has feelings he’s unaware of. It was an outstanding read from start to finish, and now I’m going to have to check out more of this author’s books.

The story follows Rex, a workaholic finance guy whose troubled past has shaped his personality. He’s grouchy, growly, and commit-phobic, but when a business deal hinges on him shedding his playboy image, he finds himself in need of a fake fiancée. In an effort to not get distracted from his work during a two-week business trip, Rex asks his assistant to find a fake fiancée with qualities that Rex finds distasteful. Little does he know that the woman who epitomizes that list is none other than his bubbly, soap opera-loving hairdresser, Tabitha. As Rex and Tabitha spend time together, they find themselves becoming unlikely allies and blurring the lines of their relationship.

It’s got all the tropey goodness we know and love, heightened by some tongue in cheek humor relating to soap operas and the over the top drama that come with them. Martin does a fantastic job in building the intimacy, with a relationship that starts off with sassy heroine and a growly hero before transitioning into a deeper, more heartfelt read. I really loved Rex, aka Captain Sternpants, who took a little while to work through his emotions but then embraced them in a big way. Martin did a great job showing the reader how he feels even while he was in denial – that’s one of my favorite things about the book. I even love the potential romance the author has set up for her next book – and I can’t wait to read it. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and am voluntarily leaving a review of this opposites attract romance.

Kindle Edition:

Let me be clear… the first half of this duet was a 3-star read for me, and I hated about 50% of it. But some part of me needed to know how Cash’s story ended (because he is undeniably the focal point), and I found myself looking forward to the conclusion. I still have problems with the romance, partially because Cash is such an unappealing hero, partially because Journey is blissfully ignorant of his true nature… and also partially because of the ick-worthy roots of their relationship (it’s either pure insta-love or they fell for each other when she was 6). That being said, Robinson brought the emotion with this one, and delivered an angsty, intense read that I tore through at an alarming rate. It’s heavy, emotionally draining, and sometimes difficult to read, but ultimately a pretty powerful story. For that, I’ll happily rate this portion of the duet as 5 stars.

The story picks up right where From the First Verse left off, so you kind of need to read that first. Not so much for the romance – there’s actually very little of that in the first half – but to truly understand how broken Cash is. His journey to happily ever after is one filled with triggers, but I found it easier to connect with him in this half. Perhaps that’s because Robinson was going for a raw, deep look at Cash in the first half… and it didn’t paint a pretty picture. Honestly, neither does this half but there’s character growth and progress along the way. There were times when I didn’t like EITHER half of our couple, but I remained connected to the story. It’s an interesting book in that way. Though the relationship is at the center of the story, this is 100% Cash’s book – as was the first installment.

So do I recommend this as a great romance? Not particularly. Do I recommend this as an intense, emotional, rollercoaster of a read? Absolutely. If you’re in it for the angst and the personal growth, it’s well worth your time. It’s the kind of story that will linger in your brain after reading, and that’s really what earns it 5 stars from me. I received an ARC via Wildfire Marketing Solutions and am voluntarily leaving a review of this gritty rock star romance.

Haven’t read the first book yet? My review is here.

Kindle Edition:

You know that twisty feeling you get in your stomach when the angst in a book starts to get to you? Yeah, it was present for a significant portion of this high school romance. Maybe I’ve read too many bully romances, but something about knowing that this is the start of a trilogy (and, yes, it does end on one heck of a cliffhanger) caused that tension to build even more. Piper Lawson is a skilled writer, blending light moments with shots of angst to ratchet the emotion up another notch. Needless to say, it’s a very promising start to this complicated love story.

If you’ve read the prequel novella, Love Notes, you already know a little about this couple. It’s not required reading, but definitely enhances the story, providing some background on how these two came to be rivals of sorts. Basically, the story follows Annie and Tyler, former friends and current high school classmates. Annie’s the daughter of a famous rock star, and Tyler’s devoted to developing his musical abilities – with the help of Annie’s father. While they were once friends, miscommunications and high school drama have driven a wedge between them. As Annie and Tyler navigate living together and seeing each other in school every day, old conflicts rise to the surface and new frustrations develop.

Given the short length, it’s fast-paced and wastes no time getting right into the heart of the story. There are plenty of light moments but some heartbreaking ones as well. It’s a delicate balance that Lawson navigates with a practiced hand, so even though the characters do things that are frustrating, I remained completely invested in seeing how their love story plays out. I am so impatient to read the next installment, because just when those walls were starting to come down…. they got built back up even higher. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and am voluntarily leaving a review of this high school romance.

Kindle Edition:

Amazon Paperback:

Haven’t read the prequel novella, Love Notes, yet? You can read my review here.

Or just grab your copy here:

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