Best of February 2021

If we’re being honest… I am not shocked that every book on this month’s Best of list is written by one of my favorite authors. This month had SO MANY releases, many of which were highly anticipated for me. It was bound to happen this way, and I’m not mad about it. March, on the other hand? Is a total wildcard.

I also wouldn’t be shocked if several of these make my Best of the Year list – the month was that strong. I had trouble narrowing the list down to six, and actually had to include one honorable mention (Close Quarters), because it just took me by complete surprise.

March brings lots of new releases, with books from an eclectic group of authors. Most of my favorite authors released books in February, so it should be an interesting, exploratory month for reading. That often makes for mixed – but exciting – results, and usually gains me at least one new one-click author. If you missed my March Release Calendar, you can find it here – there are many books to look forward to!

I’ve got my review for each of this month’s best books below – you can’t go wrong with any of these!


TOP PICKS

Who would’ve thought that the Italian playboy would have the SWOONIEST love story? Not me, I’ll tell you that. Though I’ve been loving this series so far, I was a little bit nervous about Enzo’s book, because last we saw him, he was dating a twenty-year-old and still giving smoldering looks to every woman who walked by. But he is just a big ball of adorable in this, and I loved every minute of it. The perfect combination of sweet, sass, and steam, this leads with the sexual tension before transitioning into a heartfelt, emotional read that excels at subtlety. I loved the honesty, the juxtaposition of viewpoints, and the build from (almost) loathe to lust to lasting love.

The story follows Enzo, a man from an Italian Catholic family. His parents expect him to settle down and get married sooner rather than later, and the family business is on the line. A playboy at heart, Enzo still doesn’t feel ready to get married, but he’s willing to make it happen if it gets him the business. Things don’t go according to plan with his first proposal, but they start looking up when Bianca enters the picture. A frenemy from a family with similar values to his own, Bianca is the kind of woman who stirs up all kinds of feelings in Enzo. Not the sexual kind, of course. Enzo still remembers Bianca as the quiet bookworm he knew in his teens, but she’s always known how to push his buttons. When Bianca agrees to temporarily be his wife – as long as she can try for the baby she’s always wanted – Enzo doesn’t see the harm in a business transaction between frenemies.

The friction between these two is fantastic – a bit of sexual tension that isn’t readily apparent to either character, but builds along the way. They seem like opposites on the surface, but the better they get to know each other, the more commonalities they find. I loved some of the subtler moments – the peek into married life, the strain infertility can have on a relationship, and how both Enzo and Bianca shoulder the “blame” for not getting pregnant. This has plenty of light and steamy moments, but there are some emotional ones as well. There’s a little of everything, and that’s what makes this such a great read. So, I’m happy to say that Enzo was everything I could’ve hoped for and more – a sweet, loving, arrogant man who still knows how to smolder.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3rAMPa7


I loved this SO MUCH. So very much. I always look forward to this author’s books, and this was absolutely everything that I want from her work: a delicate dance towards love, a slow and torturous burn, intense intimacy, and quiet moments that have such impact. This hero is broken in the best of ways, and I adored his journey towards loving himself again. Lucian hides the sweetest man underneath a mountain of grump, and I was so completely invested in his story. It’s sports romance done in a way I’ve never read before, Hollywood romance done with subtlety, and a second chance at life romance that broke my heart.

The story follows Lucian, a hockey star whose career ended while his body was still in prime condition. After one too many concussions, he made the difficult decision to end his career, but that’s left him adrift. A little broken and licking his wounds, Lucian has been staying with his grandmother on her estate. Isolation and avoidance have worked for Lucian – at least until Emma enters the picture. An actress who just found out that she’s been axed from her starring role, Emma has her own issues. Though the two initially clash, Emma soon discovers that the temperamental yet tantalizing man might just be hiding something extraordinarily sweet behind his stony exterior.

The first book in this series wasn’t a total win for me, so I went into this one cautiously optimistic. I’ve loved – LOVED – several of this author’s books in the past, so I was really hoping this would be good. It blew “good” out of the water. It’s quiet and slow burning, requiring a little patience from the reader, but the payoff is so worth it. I loved the intensity, the intimacy, and all of the CHEMISTRY between these two. I’d consider this to be a hot slow burn, because there were some moments that had me shifting in my seat before things even got physical. This hero is fantastic, and his raw vulnerability took the story to another level. I want more and I want it now; this was so, so good. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy via NetGalley (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this emotional slow burn.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3b0czWG


This antihero? Holy wowza, he is overwhelmingly INTENSE in the best of ways. An undomesticated alpha with a raw intensity that will keep you turning the pages, this antihero is loyal, lovable, and completely unforgettable. Every scene this couple is in together is SCORCHING, even when they’re fully dressed. The author was not lying when she said that this book is her hottest and dirtiest yet. I’ve read sixteen of her books now, so the level of steam doesn’t usually surprise me, but WOW, this couple has the kind of chemistry that cannot be ignored. I personally would’ve liked the steam to be taken down a notch or two, but the style fit perfectly with this particular couple, there’s no denying that. If you’re looking for an intensely sexy ride that will pull you in and hold your attention all the way through, this will definitely deliver.

The story follows Natalie, a woman whose life ended when her fiancé disappeared the day before their wedding five years ago. She’s been adrift ever since – celibate, depressed, and often suicidal. Then Kage enters her life. He’s mysterious, fiercely sexy, and incredibly scary, because he just reeks of bad news. But the chemistry between them is undeniable, and Kage has zero problem stating his intentions: he wants her. Natalie is confident that spending time with Kage is a terrible, terrible idea, but he’s brought her back to life in a way that she did not think was possible, and that’s got to count for something.

There are some incredible moments in this book that just took my breath away. I loved Kage from the start, and I never ever questioned his desire for Natalie. He’s not a good man – he’ll openly admit that – but I loved the vulnerability that laid beneath his rough exterior. Those tender moments are what made the book for me, even when it was the intensity that pulled me in. I didn’t always love the particular brand of steam in this one, but this is a truly unique couple, and the dynamics were absolutely fascinating. I loved the progression – how we see Natalie bloom and come alive again; how we see Kage turn from monster back into man. And I loved the dark humor that’s present throughout. There were small things along the way that bugged me, but nothing that took away from this pulse-pounding love story. It’s an intense, addictive ride – not light, easy, or tame, but wholly captivating. I received an early copy (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this steamy romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NvbiPi


What a delightful, quirky treat! This is EASILY the best book that I’ve read by this author, and I’m always excited to get my hands on her new releases. I really wasn’t sure what to expect going in, and that made the journey all the more interesting. It’s part rom com, part murder mystery, and part dark comedy – the perfect combination of elements to make this highly entertaining and bingeable. And the hero? LOVED him. He’s like a sweet alpha with a nerdy side, a guy who is willing to put in the work to get his girl. It was so refreshingly different that I was completely invested from start to finish, and enjoyed it the whole way through.

The story follows Zoey, a woman who has gotten used to talking to dead people more than she does live ones… and not in a supernatural way. She’s a coroner who is considered something of a black widow around town, since she deals with death on a daily basis and seems to bring it to those she spends time with. So when Zoey runs into Blake – literally – she does everything she can to stay away. But Blake is an insurance agent who has already calculated the risks, and he’s determined to win a date with the mysterious beauty. When their careers bring them together on a case of sorts, these two have no choice but to get closer.

I loved all of the offbeat comedy, the relatable (yet eccentric) characters, and the unique storyline. The tone felt very different than anything I’ve read by this author – in a good way – and it kept me on my toes throughout. And I really, really liked the growth in intimacy. Blake won’t let Zoey write him off, run scared, or keep things casual, so the payoff at the end of this slow burn was so good. There’s a great growth in intimacy that makes this otherwise light, fun read feel like it’s got some serious depth. We’re also introduced to some other intriguing characters, and their stories would likely be just as interesting. Here’s hoping that we get more like this from the author, because this was a seriously good read. I received an early copy via the author and am voluntarily leaving a review of this quirky caper.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2N5waw4


Did I kick my husband out of the room and devour this baby in one sitting? You bet I did! Engrossing from the first page, the writing draws you in and doesn’t let go. It’s a slow, delicious burn with chemistry that sparks into intimacy that has such incredible depth. The story unravels one scene at a time with an immersive, mysterious feel, leaving the reader in the dark about certain elements until the perfect moment. And while there are plenty of light, sometimes comedic, scenes, the touches of emotion throughout have the impact of a punch to the gut. I loved it from start to finish, and even a slightly disjointed ending did not lessen the impact. This author has long been a favorite of mine, and this book is the perfect example of why.

The story follows Jordan and Riley, two broken people whose lives are forever changed by a chance encounter. While they couldn’t be more different on the outside, they’re both hurting in their own way (yes, lots of triggers). After their initial meeting, Jordan offers Riley an unconventional job, and that sets them on a path that neither one expected. Riley is the brightness that Jordan needed to liven up his life, and Jordan is the stability that Riley needed in hers. Their connection is unexpected but not unappreciated, and it gets deeper with every day. If that sounds like a vague description, that’s because I strongly recommend you go into this one blind. It’s the kind of story that you’ll want to discover as it goes, and that’s all part of the appeal.

This gave me major Wrecking Ball vibes, and that is a very, very good thing. Jordan is the kind of hero that will take a little while to grow on you, but he will absolutely steal your heart by the end. I loved the vibrancy of Riley and how well she complements Jordan’s emotionless persona. The two together have such great chemistry, and I loved all of the little bantery moments between them. It’s the kind of slow burn that requires some patience, developing just a bit at a time, but so worth the wait. This author’s writing style is devourable, and the story flies by before you know it. Yes, the ending faltered for me just a little. I expected a different conflict, and it felt more abrupt than I would’ve liked. But that doesn’t even begin to diminish the love that I have for the rest of the story, which EASILY held my interest from the first page. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming, light and emotional all at once. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy (then purchased it for my collection) and am voluntarily leaving a review of this slow burn romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/39zLfz9


There is nothing quite like a good guy who finally gets everything he deserves from life. This series has been full of emotion, with complex characters and situations that make for very angsty reads. Hard to Score is probably the lightest one, though don’t tell that to this hero; he is a genuinely kind, loving, and loyal man who has just taken hit after hit. I loved him. This former friends to lovers romance is full of heart, oh so sexy, and brimming with intimacy. The push/pull between these two made for an excellent read – there’s tension of the sexual variety, but a whole lot more too. Their shared history is probably the best part of the book; the author only shows us a few flashbacks, but they are incredibly powerful in the present. It’s an emotional, engaging read that had me rooting for the good guy.

The story follows Brexton and Drew, or Bratty Brexton and Dreadful Drew, if you ask their teenage selves. Their families were close growing up, so they spent countless summers and vacations together. Brexton even had a huge crush on Dreadful-turned-Dreamy Drew, even if he was oblivious to it. But the families had a huge falling out, and these two haven’t seen each other in years. Brexton is now a sports agent, and she can’t help but wonder why the extremely talented Drew has been left on the sidelines. As the two begin to spend more time together, it becomes obvious that their history is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because the pull between them is so strong, but a curse because it’s also what pushes them away from each other.

I’ve been LOVING this series, and this was no exception. The first two books were intense and steamy, with heroes who weren’t quite as “nice.” Drew is the kind of guy that you’d want to snatch up in an instant in real life; not an alphahole you can tame, but a sweet, sexy, nice guy. His issues certainly add a level of complication, but there’s no hiding how good he is underneath it all. I loved the storyline – it felt unique and different, but also very realistic. There’s a great growth in intimacy and some very sexy moments. It leads with the sexual tension before smoldering into a more emotional story, and I loved the progression. Now I can’t wait for the final book in the series – we’ll see what we get with that one. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this sexy sports romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3qsEzJ3


HONORABLE MENTION

Angsty and intense with the kind of addictive storyline that keeps you turning the pages, this was a devourable read. On paper, it sounds like the kind of romance that I’d hate – if you felt the complicated, possibly cheating, vibes coming from that blurb, you haven’t missed the mark. But it’s executed in such a way that I was entranced by and engaged in the story, rather than enraged by it. I loved the chemistry between these two, the twisty romance, the complications, and the vacation feel. It was certainly never boring. And this is absolutely NOT a love triangle, if that’s what you’re worried about. Is it complex though? Yes, definitely yes.

The story follows Aspen, a woman who finds herself taking the vacation of a lifetime when she unexpectedly joins her boyfriend on a 3-month yacht adventure. Aspen’s boyfriend has been hired by tech billionaire, Theo, as a crew member during his travel in Europe. Though she wasn’t supposed to be a part of the trip, Theo takes an interest in Aspen’s photography, and invites her to join. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that comes with unintended consequences, both for Aspen’s relationship and her love life as a whole. One man lets her down while the other steps up to the plate, but they’re all on one twisted trip together for the summer.

Let me start off by saying that I am NOT a fan of cheating or overly angsty love triangles, but something about this blurb spoke to me. I love me some forced proximity, and sexual tension is a favorite of mine, so I was willing to take a chance on this one. I’m definitely glad I did. I read this in one sitting, and was hooked the entire time. There are some great, subtle moments in here that give the story such impact, and I was rooting for Aspen and Theo the whole time. It’s the kind of slow burn that’s executed well, ratcheting up the tension until it snaps. Yes, Aspen does some things that cross a line. However, I appreciated that this never felt like a love triangle; there are clearly issues in Aspen’s relationship that have nothing to do with Theo, and I loved the contrasts between the two. The author does an excellent job showing the evolution throughout, and it makes the reading experience that much richer. If you’re ready for a complicated ride, then this is definitely worth a read. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this angsty romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3bgkO0P


There are lots of great books releasing soon!

If you missed my March Release Calendar, you can find it here. There are so many exciting books to look forward to!


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