July was all about exploring the work of new-to-me authors because many of my favorites released books in June. So I think it’s only fitting that every single book at the top of my list for the month was written by an author whose work I’m just starting to get familiar with. I loved this crazy month of ups and downs; for every miss (nearly half of my reviews this month were rated as 3 stars), there was an author whose work I’ll be moving up to the top of my TBR the next time around. And that’s priceless to me.
Call it a slump, call it an exploratory mission into untested waters, this month was a wild ride for me! The following five books stand out at the top of the pack, and they are so different that it’s ridiculous. From light to angsty, complicated to easygoing, there’s something for every mood here. I’ve included my reviews for each below so that you’ve got an idea of what you’re in store for.
August promises to be another great month. It’s a month featuring some of my favorite authors, so hopefully there will be a little more consistency in my enjoyment, but… I won’t know until I dig in! I’ll be sharing my list of the 10 August Releases I’m Most Excited About over the weekend, and there are some EASY picks on that list for me!
Absolutely LOVED this
THIS is why I read rom coms; for those books that are smile-inducing, lighthearted, and just so much fun. I laughed, I smiled, and that slow burn just about killed me (in the best way). Kiss My Putt is exactly what you’d want from a book of that title, featuring my favorite kind of enemies to lovers romance. You know that underneath all of that bickering and hurt is the kind of deep love that lasts a lifetime. These two have been a part of each other’s lives for fifteen years so one (pretty big) bump in the road isn’t going to end their relationship. Though there’s plenty of tension – mostly of the sexual variety – it’s a low angst read that will keep you turning the pages.
The story follows Palmer, a professional golfer who has always been known as a reserved and steady guy – until he has a meltdown on national television. Sidelined from the sport he’s devoted his life to, Palmer returns to the town and woman that’s always been his safe space. But that relationship fell to pieces after insecurities and misunderstandings got in the way. Now Palmer is ready to win back his best friend – any way that she will have him.
We’ve got to talk about this slow burn, because… WOW. Sivec does an incredible job building the tension until it crackles and reaches its breaking point. This is a slow burn to SCORCHING read, with the kind of payoff any reader would want after such a great emotional build. I loved that the focus is wholly on the emotional connection, and that even when these two feud, there’s so much love underneath it all. It’s just the kind of friends to lovers/enemies to lovers romance that I love to read, and I loved every minute of it. Sit back and enjoy this one – it’s guaranteed to brighten up your day. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC via the author and am voluntarily leaving a review of this slow burn romance.
Such a FANTASTIC start to a new series! This had all the slow burn/enemies to lovers goodness that I wanted, with a couple that I was rooting for from the very beginning. I really, really enjoyed it. The story starts out tension-filled with some serious sparks, then slowly turns into a great friends to lovers read. The attraction stays on the back burner until just the right moment, simmering slowly until this couple finally makes the transition from enemies to allies to lovers. I loved the strong yet vulnerable hero who steals the show here (though our heroine is great too). It sets up a new series perfectly, introducing an intriguing group of characters, while also standing on its own with ease.
The story follows Zara, a woman who is so broke that she collects discarded punchcards just to treat herself to a cup of coffee. She’s supporting her little brother and trying to make a life for herself, but it’s been a struggle for awhile now. When Zara meets Leo, it’s irritation at first sight, so when they’re paired up to plan an event that will determine who gets to keep the client, there’s plenty of tension between them. As the two slowly work their way from loathe to love, it’s not long before they’re wondering what would’ve happened if they’d met a different way.
I was expecting this one to have more of a fake relationship/office romance vibe with pure hatred, so I was actually kind of pleased to discover that the tone was not like that. Yes, these two are irritated with each other and have conflicting interests, but it’s a little lighter and more playful than anticipated. I loved getting to know both of these characters better, and the slow burn does a very good job digging beneath the surface. While I liked Zara a lot, it was Leo who made the story for me. He was so unexpected and such a great guy that I wanted to see him happy. We’re also introduced to several characters whose stories I would love to read, so this is a very, very promising start to a new series! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC via the author (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this slow burn romance.
Kindle Edition: https://amzn.to/3h9AdS9
Loved the chemistry between these two! This best friend’s little sister romance played out very differently than I expected – and I am completely okay with that. It’s essentially a strangers to lovers romance because these two have never met before. After crashing into each other’s lives in a big way, Case and Emma find themselves falling hard and fast. It’s sexy, light with touches of angst, and a much slower burn than I anticipated, which is definitely a good thing. I was hooked from the start; it’s completely devourable, reading quickly with never a dull moment.
The story follows Case, a software developer who flew to New York City to tie up a few loose ends in his life. He’s not in the city often, so he lets his best friend use his place. Expecting to walk into an empty apartment, Case is instead greeted by his best friend’s little sister, Emma. Since they’ve never met before, it’s quite the introduction. Broke and newly single, Emma came to the city to surprise her brother but now finds herself stuck with a near stranger. As the two share the apartment over the course of several days, they get to know each other a whole lot better. Though there’s obvious chemistry there, it’s complicated by the fact that neither one will be in the city for long.
I’m not sure how I expected this one to play out, but it constantly kept me on my toes. These two characters are both working through some issues in their lives, but the tone stays mostly light and sexy. You can definitely feel the attraction there and I was rooting for Case and Emma from the start. The author sets things up so that the story is a little mysterious and unpredictable, unraveling as we get to know these two better. It’s a slow burn to sizzle, getting steamy in the back half but still very much focusing on the emotional connection. I was completely engrossed, wanting to know how these two would be able to make things work. If I have one complaint it would be that the ending became unnecessarily complicated, but I enjoyed this one from start to finish.
Kindle Edition: https://amzn.to/3emjKb8
Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2ZhDoAV
When your biggest complaint about a book is that it’s TOO sweet… well, you’re not really complaining at all, are you? This zero-angst, steamy, and downright adorable read will have you as smitten as these two characters are from the moment they meet. The instalove is… extreme. But I can’t fault a book for being so light and smile-inducing. It features the sweetest romance I’ve ever read, with an adorably awkward hero you’re gonna love, and many steamy moments.
The story follows Matthew/Fish, a musician who was only able to catch girls’ attention after he became famous. He’s not what you would call a heartthrob, just a regular, genuinely good guy who took awhile to feel comfortable in his own skin. Though he’s had one night stands, he’s never had a girlfriend or a woman who has truly cared for him. When Fish meets aspiring musician/college student Alessandra, he is immediately smitten. It’s clear from the start that she likes the guy underneath the fame, and that is a first for Fish.
A completely different spin on a rock star romance, this features a guy who is just so GOOD. He’s self-deprecating and fully aware that he’s not the typical hunk, but Fish has something a lot of people don’t – a big, beautiful heart. There’s not really a better way to describe it, and he meets his female counterpart in Alessandra. If you’re looking for a romance that’s steamy but 100% light and easy, this is the one for you. It’s borderline too much sweetness, and our heroine is borderline too naive, but the story is just so refreshing that I was willing to overlook that. Ultimately, it’s a steamy/sweet, feel good read that’s definitely worth your time. I received an ARC via Candi Kane PR and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/39sit1E
5 stars – with an asterisk
When I sat down to write this review, I still wasn’t sure if this book was going to get five stars or three stars from me, that’s how strong my feelings are. Technically speaking, this is one of the best books I have read this year, hands down. But emotionally, I had a lot of issues with the level of OW/OM drama. However, I can honestly say I have never read a romance that played out at all like this one does, and I will surely be thinking about it months from now. The story is beautifully written, emotional, intense, and a delicate balance of right/wrong. You can tell that these two are perfect for each other, but their path to happily ever after is… complicated.
I will tell you right now that there is a glaring omission in the blurb. I don’t consider this to be a spoiler because the reader finds out right away, but… keep that in mind before you continue reading this review. The story follows Nathan and Eliza, two friends who have gotten closer and closer over the last ten years. When they first met, there was attraction on Eliza’s end, but Nathan quickly made it clear that she didn’t have the right equipment to interest him. That’s right, Nathan has only ever been with men. But as Eliza and Nathan have gotten closer – probably too close for two platonic friends – things start to change for him. Not wanting to destroy the most important relationship of his life by making a rash decision, Nathan is determined to look deeper at his sexual orientation.
Since that is the heart of this book, it seems too important to leave out of the blurb. Nathan and Eliza are clearly meant to spend their lives together, it’s just a matter of what they’re meant to be to each other. The level of depth and emotion there is what makes this book; these two have a rock solid foundation of friendship – even if there are aspects of their lives that they’ve kept secret from each other. I loved that there was a clear catalyst for the shift in their relationship, and I empathized with Nathan along the way. But I did NOT always agree with his decisions. Or Eliza’s, for that matter. There is an incredible amount of tension and drama in a relationship that’s been so easy for so long. It’s also an unashamedly STEAMY book, so be prepared for your Kindle to burn up as the story progresses. This love story is not for the faint of heart, but the reward is worth the struggle. I don’t consider this to be a safe read in any way, shape, or form, but it’s so well written that I will begrudgingly admit that I’m willing to overlook a few issues that would normally trip me up BIG TIME. I received an ARC (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this sexy, angsty, friends to lovers romance.