Going into March, I called it an “exploratory” month, and I expected it to be full of hits and misses. That turned out to be incredibly accurate, lol! I read some REALLY good books, but I also handed out a lot more 3-star (and below) ratings than usual. Most of my favorite authors released new books in February, so I explored the work of many authors who are less familiar to me. That always yields interesting results, so here we are!
Of this group, only Love to Tempt You was on my radar at the start of the month. That series has been excellent, so it’s no surprise that it landed on this list. The Brit is my first experience with Malpas’ work, and it turned out to be the perfect book to try – I would not be surprised if it ends up on my Best of the Year list. Mafia Bride was another outstanding mafia romance, and the blurb almost scared me off. I’m so glad it didn’t. Same goes for Mourning Wood – I’ve only read one of Orgeron’s books before, but I love punny humor, so I gave it a chance. It was easily my favorite rom com of the month. Float Plan is a debut that hooked me in right away. And then there’s The Match – another addictive read that wasn’t announced until mid-month. So it was a month of surprises!
April brings lots of new releases, with books from MANY of my favorite authors. I can’t even tell you how many AWESOME ARCs I already have loaded up on my Kindle for the month, so it promises to be a busy, exciting time for releases. If you missed my April Release Calendar, you can find it here – there are so 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!
Oh. My. God. This book is just… wow. You’re either going to really love it or really hate it; there is ZERO in between with this one. And while there are things in here that should’ve tanked this romance for me, there was no stopping my love of this book. It’s just twist after dark and delicious twist; a completely, unquestionably unpredictable ride from start to finish. This is the kind of book where every page is important, because there is just SO MUCH going on, and it’s an intricate dance from loathe to love for this couple. The cat and mouse game got to me at times, and this antihero would truly terrify me if I ever met him in person, but… that doesn’t mean I didn’t love this messy, addictive, and DARK mafia romance.
Normally I’d give some storyline details here, but you don’t really want me to do that. Go into this one blind; I did, and I do not regret it. Just know that this is dark and steamy, twisted and messy, with characters who are flawed and broken to their cores. This is not an easy or average kind of love; it’s poisonous and often toxic. There are acts of extreme violence punctuated by soft, tender moments of intense intimacy, and the contradictions throughout will keep you on your toes. I never, ever knew what to expect, and that is seriously all part of the fun. If you’d told me the plot and some of the conflicts ahead of time, I would NOT have read this. No question. On paper, there are elements to this story that are a complete turnoff to me, but they somehow didn’t do anything to decrease my love for this couple – even if they had me wanting to throw my Kindle sometimes. But fair warning: this is not a love story for everyone. And I think it goes without saying that the storyline is just riddled with TRIGGERS of all kinds.
Are you still with me? Good, because this is well worth a read.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: this (anti)hero isn’t all bad, and that’s what makes this forced marriage/mafia romance shine. It’s the softer, subtler moments that turn this into a love story – though there’s plenty of aggression and intensity as well. This couple goes on an emotional journey, and the author does an outstanding job showcasing the small moments that have the biggest impact. This is the ultimate slow burn, and it’s push/pull, hate/love, command/submit until the very last page. And that CLIFFHANGER? Buckle up, because it’s just getting started.
The story follows Violetta, a young woman (19) who was raised in America by fiercely traditional Italian family members. She’s aware of the contrasts between the two cultures, but considers herself to be a true American – independent with her own future ahead of her. That all changes when the “king” comes for a visit. Santino (33) is of that traditional world Violetta has only witnessed from the sidelines, and he is both feared and revered. So when Santino claims Violetta as his bride and announces that the wedding will take place immediately – or her family will die – that causes the most extreme of culture clashes. Suddenly, Violetta is forced to accept that her life is no longer her own.
I’ll admit: I was a little terrified of that blurb, but I also love a good mafia romance with JUST the right level of darkness, so I couldn’t resist giving this a try. Well, now I guess I’m locked in for three books, because this was engrossing and immensely devourable. The slow burn was the perfect amount of excruciating, the sexual tension set this book on FIRE, and Santino’s underlying compassion was everything. This couple is at the heart of every page once the story gets going, and the proximity made this such a rich, impactful read. I couldn’t put it down, and there was zero chance that I was going to sleep without finishing.
Am I worried about where this is headed next? Yes. I knew going in that the darkness and style of steam might be too much for me. For Santino, violence is a form of foreplay, and I’m betting we haven’t seen anything yet. The steam is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it matches this couple, so I’m willing to step outside of my comfort zone. Santino is not all bad, Violetta is not all good, and their relationship is not all black and white. The author has left some serious breadcrumbs along the way, and I can only guess where this is headed in the next installment, because that cliffhanger threw everything off-balance once again. I cannot wait to dive in. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this intense, dark romance.
I’ve never blinked away tears within 5 minutes of reading a book before, but… there’s a first time for everything. This starts out HEAVY and gets lighter along the way, as our heroine grapples with her grief and learns to love life again. Opening with a suicide note that delivers quite the punch, this book is an interesting combination of romance and women’s fiction. The romance is central to the story and found on nearly every page, but the heroine-centric storyline, emphasis on travel descriptions, and focus on personal growth give this the feel of women’s fiction. I loved the journey, the range of emotion, and the truly lovable hero. It’s the kind of book where I’m willing to overlook some smaller issues, because there is just so much RIGHT, real, and honest about it.
The story follows Anna, a woman struggling to move forward after her boyfriend’s suicide. It’s been almost a year since his death, but she can’t pull herself out of the fog of grief and depression. When her phone alerts her to the fact that it’s the day they planned to leave for a sailing trip around the world, Anna just drops everything and GOES. She doesn’t know what to expect on the journey and knows she is woefully unprepared, but it’s got to be better than the life she’s living. Once it becomes obvious that she can’t take the trip by herself, Anna hires Keane, a professional sailor dealing with his own loss. They start as strangers and slowly develop a friendship, but spending 24/7 with a person will accelerate any relationship – perhaps beyond what Anna is ready for.
I love forced proximity and books that keep the characters together for much of the story, and this has that in a big way. While it’s Anna’s story, Keane plays a huge role from start to finish, and I loved the evolution of their relationship. This one is for slow burn lovers who are willing to be patient; Anna is absolutely not in the right headspace to find love, even if an incredible man is standing in front of her. I really loved how Anna and Keane just GET each other in a way that they wouldn’t if they hadn’t experienced the losses that they have in their lives. And the representation of Keane – a strong, independent, resilient man who happens to have lost a leg – was outstanding. So, while this definitely has too much sailing terminology, a few too many discussions of travel, and a touch of OW drama that I could’ve done without, the rest of the story is so impactful that it all fades to the background. This won’t be for everyone – it’s just too triggering at times for that – but it’s a unique, complex story that is well worth a read. I received an early copy via the publisher, and am voluntarily leaving a review of this heartbreaking yet uplifting romance.
I was in the middle of reading another book when this hit my Kindle, and I dropped it like it was on fire to read this – the blurb had me that curious. No regrets. This author’s work is always unpredictable, with unique storylines that stand out from the pack. I was hooked from the very first page, and the chemistry between this couple was undeniable. Their romance is a total WHIRLWIND, and it held my attention from start to finish. I’m sure I could pick apart the storyline and find some issues (things DO happen very quickly and the ending does stumble a little), but I was completely caught up in this love story and I devoured it in one sitting. So there’s no denying how much I enjoyed it.
The story follows Rossi, a woman who is completely fine with raising a child alone. She’s got a job she loves, the perfect home for a family, and plenty of support around her, so she went ahead and used a donor’s “sample” to have a baby in a less traditional way. That all gets complicated when the fertility clinic accidentally sends a letter intended for the donor to Rossi instead. Suddenly, Rossi knows who her baby’s father is… and Fabian knows that he’s got a kid out in the world. And while the successful, famous, tennis player has never considered having children of his own, the realization that there’s already one in existence changes everything.
I had no idea what to expect going in, and that made this such an addictive read. The story is not like any I have read, and I loved the unpredictability of it. The author is so very talented at creating these original love stories, featuring characters who are complex and interesting. Fabian was such a great character; he’s this guy who has everything, but still feels like there must be more out there. I loved his willingness to see where everything leads, and it was refreshing to have a hero be so invested. He’s had the fame and the models, but thinks the simple life is a little slice of Heaven. There are some heart-melting family moments in here, as well as plenty of sexual tension. I would’ve preferred a different conflict and do think that the ending was a bit rushed, but that didn’t do anything to dampen my love of this book. It was so easy to binge, and I’m looking forward to whatever this author dreams up next. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this unexpected romance.
Oh my god, this was ADORABLE. Definitely not what I expected from the title and tagline, I’ll tell you that. This hero gave me all of the warm and fuzzy feelings by being genuinely kind and loving, and he absolutely stole my heart whenever he was in the same room with the heroine’s daughter. There are some downright sweet and swoony scenes, paired with plenty of quirky comedy and just enough heat to keep things interesting. And the meet cute? Who would’ve thought that lasting love could develop following a drunken quickie against a dumpster. That’s the kind of unique love story we’re dealing with here.
The story follows Wyatt and Whitney, two people who shared one drunken hookup a few years ago. As a single mom, Whitney finds it difficult to trust men, and that means relationships are off the table. So when Wyatt is hired to help with some renovations to the funeral home Whitney works at with her family, things get complicated quickly. While Whitney would like to think she’s moved beyond the stage of her life when she was ruled by her hormones, Wyatt doesn’t make it easy to stay away. And when he starts upping his game in an effort to win over both of his girls – Whitney and her precocious daughter – she doesn’t stand a chance against him.
I’ve only read one other book by this author, and it was a solid 4-star read, so I thought I’d give her another try, but my expectations were set pretty low. This surprised me in the best of ways. It held my attention from the start, and turned out to be just the kind of light, low angst rom com I needed in my life. It’s also a slow burn, which I didn’t expect based on the tagline – and that was also a welcome surprise. It’s a rom com that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is just a fun, lighthearted read that will keep you turning the pages. If you love a sweet, loving hero and melt at the sight of a man being so, so good with kids, then this is the one for you. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this quirky comedy.
Raw, emotional, and steamy, this was another excellent addition to a series that has been STELLAR so far. We knew very little about Keith’s story going in, and this gruff, protective hero was more broken than anticipated – but also so in need of some love in his life. He’s wholly unprepared for the whirlwind that is Maia, and they made for an intense, engaging couple who wasted no time falling for each other. But what happens when you meet the right person, and you still haven’t dealt with the demons that haunt you? That’s the question at the center of this love story, and what makes it such a compelling, multi-faceted romance.
The story follows Keith, the drummer for Wild Minds, the rock band we’ve gotten to know throughout the series. Prior to this, we’ve only caught a few glimpses of his personality, and there’s a very good reason for that – he closed off a large part of himself after the death of his high school sweetheart (some triggers in that storyline). When Maia comes crashing into his life – literally – she catches Keith off-guard in the best of ways. Falling for the too young, too innocent, too sassy girl is one of the easiest things Keith has ever done, but he hasn’t let go of his past – and that’s a problem.
In some ways, this feels like your typical rock star romance – Keith is older (27 to Maia’s 20), experienced, jaded, and broken – but there’s a lot more too it than that. They are perfect complements to each other, and they’re both just damaged enough to understand what makes their partner tick. I loved the build in intimacy, and while this feels like instalove in some ways, it’s also a love that doesn’t come easy. The chemistry between Keith and Maia crackles, with some seriously steamy scenes and a few intimate moments that were just great to read. I also loved how hard Keith fights to keep Maia in his life – he knows he’s got a once-in-a-lifetime woman in front of him, and he has no plans to let her go. It’s angsty, emotional, tense, and SEXY, with the kind of storyline that keeps you turning the pages. And that epilogue? Oh man, I am SO curious to see where this series goes next.
There are lots of great books releasing soon!
If you missed my April Release Calendar, you can find it here. There are so many exciting books to look forward to!
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