Best of September 2021

September was an awesome reading month for me! I’m struggling to decide exactly which book was my favorite – there was a little something for every mood. I *think* that the stellar, science-filled debut, The Love Hypothesis, steals the show this month though. I loved the unique feel, and the grumpy cinnamon roll of a hero was fantastic. I also really loved Falling in Reverse, a steamy and intense rock star/bodyguard romance. There’s some delicious sexual tension, and the hero in that was excellent as well. Speaking of sexual tension, Hard to Love was absolutely filled with it. That was such a devourable read, and a great end to a superb series. It Happened One Summer was a steamy delight, featuring another lovable grump (I’m seeing a theme this month). That kicked off a series that I’m very excited about, and I’m so glad that I finally got around to reviewing it! The Lie was another great read from Sorensen, whose Forbidden will likely be making my Best of the Year list. Finally, First Love, Take Two made me enjoy second chance romance – and that’s always a win. I’m betting you’ll be seeing more than one of these on my Best of the Year list!

October brings lots of new releases, with some exciting books on the way. If you missed my October 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!


BEST OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS

I loved this SO VERY MUCH. It’s one of those books that left me smiling like a fool, with a full heart and a strong desire to start reading it all over again. The evolution of these characters from start to finish is intense, and I absolutely loved how everything came full circle by the end. One of my favorite parts of the story was trying to decipher our hero’s quiet looks, moods, and glances – there is some outstanding subtlety to this love story. And it is definitely a love story. The romance is central throughout, with a light, fresh feel that gets richer and deeper as the story progresses. It tackles difficult subjects like sexual harassment and self-worth, while also remaining exceedingly light and uplifting for much of the book. And by the end? I was content, happy, and oh so satisfied to finally see these two fools get together.

The story follows Olive, a 26-year-old grad student trying to cure cancer. She is still finding her confidence, but she loves what she’s doing. So when Olive’s best friend develops feelings for the guy Olive just started dating, she does the logical thing… kiss a random man to make her friend believe that it’s all okay. Or at least that seemed logical at the time. Turns out, the random stranger that Olive kissed is none other than the most hated professor around, Adam (34). And while Olive has no desire to spend time with Adam, her impulsive act means that entering a fake relationship with the man is actually a good idea. But as the two get to know each other better, Olive discovers that the mercurial, moody professor might just be a sweetheart underneath his broody exterior.

This is one of those books where the love story is SO completely unique. It’s awkward, science-filled love – and I adored every minute of it. Sure, Olive might’ve been a bit too peppy and upbeat for me at the beginning, but that’s all part of her character evolution. I loved the grumpy/sunshine dynamic, and Adam becomes such a swoonworthy cinnamon roll by the end (with a little bit of alpha gruffness). It’s a slow burn romance with one incredibly intimate and dynamic love scene – the intimacy and emotional connection are the shining stars here. Well, it’s all pretty great, actually. This has such a vivid, distinct voice that I am very much looking forward to whatever’s next from Hazelwood.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3lVT7js

🎧 Audio note: I switched back and forth between the audio and the ebook throughout – and the audio was excellent. This is told exclusively from Olive’s point of view, so there’s one narrator. She did a great job. The vibe feels young and fresh, with a voice that actually sounds like a 26-year-old. As a slow burn romance, this is perfect for listening at work – there’s nothing steamy until later on, and the story is light and easy much of the time. Your only issue will likely be that work will take a backseat to listening, lol. The runtime is a bit longer than I’d like (11 hours), and I found it difficult to listen to the narrator’s voice at a faster speed. I have no desire for the book to be shorter though, so just know that it may take awhile to get through. Overall, an excellent audiobook to go with an incredible read.

Audiobook: https://amzn.to/3u4tiRM


Is it HOT in here, or is it just this book? WOW, that was an intense and steamy ride! This rock star/bodyguard romance had me HOOKED from the first page, and easily kept my interest until the very end. I stayed up way, way too late reading – and I have zero regrets. This couple is absolute fire together, and I loved the intensity of the story. Electric chemistry sparked the moment these two meet, and it was push/pull, tension/passion after that. Our overprotective hero is a complete caveman, but in a way that was… charming? lol, he’s a lot to handle, but so is our heroine. She’s a troublemaker who can’t stop pushing the hero’s buttons, and that makes for some seriously combustible scenes.

The story follows Iris, a rocker on the rise. With the growing popularity of her band, it’s become apparent that Iris can no longer live a normal life. Her bandmates insist that she get a bodyguard, and that’s the last thing this fiery and passionate woman wants. But Ronan isn’t such a bad guy; the protective Irishman is actually very sexy. As the two become a part of each other’s lives and discover that opposites really do attract, it’s impossible to keep the relationship purely platonic. The only problem? Ronan wants to keep Iris safe, while she has no desire to be tied down.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything by Wolf, but I was immediately reminded of her talent when I started reading. This will put you through your emotional paces, and there is such an intensity to the story – and I’m not just talking about those STEAMY scenes! Wowza. This is a hot slow burn, with chemistry that absolutely sizzles. I loved these two together, and the emotional connection was just as important as the physical one. Ronan is a natural protector, while Iris is wild and free. Together, they make an excellent pair. Neither one is perfect, and seeing them compromise and evolve was one of my favorite things. This promises to be a very good series, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next couple. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this rock star romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3nOM3rm


This hero? One of the BEST I’ve read about in a long while. I absolutely ADORED this gruff, closed off, alpha fisherman with a heart of gold – he made this opposites attract romance engrossing from the very start, and the steamy scenes were downright combustible because of his intensity. Talk about a slow burn to SIZZLE romance; this was sexy, emotional, and HOT. I never would’ve anticipated loving the high maintenance, socialite of a heroine, but I loved her as well. The combination of the two made for a fascinating, unique read that held my attention from start to finish. It’s a seriously satisfying series starter that left me wanting more – I loved it.

The story follows Piper, an almost-famous socialite who has never had to worry about money. She loves the finer things in life and makes no excuses about it. But Piper’s latest fiasco is the final straw for her stepfather, who cuts her off financially and sentences her to 3 months in a small fishing town. Forced to take care of herself for the first time in her life, Piper is a total fish out of water in the close-knit community. And when she meets the town’s grumpy fishing captain, Piper couldn’t feel like more of an outsider. Brendan isn’t sure what to think about the vibrant and beautiful stranger, but she is a shock to his system – and maybe that’s exactly what he needs. He’s been stuck in his ways for years, and Piper makes Brendan off-balance in a way that keeps him coming back for more.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this one at the start – Piper is absolutely not the kind of heroine I typically gravitate towards, and the book definitely felt strongly influenced by Schitt’s Creek. But as the story progresses and we get to know both characters better, it just becomes more and more compelling. I LOVED Brendan so much; there’s something about a strong, damaged alpha with a marshmallow heart that gets me every time, and his backstory is such an interesting one. He’s the perfect complement to Piper, the steady figure next to all of her craziness. The story has a slow emotional build that starts out subtly and grows along the way, until the relationship feels like it has incredible depth. These two are also smoking hot together, and the steamy scenes were both important to the story and also simply s-e-x-y. For a book that’s not short, this just flew by. I loved it, and can’t wait for the next standalone in the series.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3DTBgl9


Crackling chemistry from the very first interaction – this couple is absolutely combustible, and watching their cat and mouse game from the sidelines was totally engrossing. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this antihero redeemed romance; Finn has been the “villain” throughout this series of interconnected standalones, and his history is somewhat problematic. But it was incredibly easy to fall for him in this. Bromberg is an expert at writing complex characters and unique relationships, with this being another prime example. These two have crazy chemistry, and their combative, lust-filled interactions had me completely hooked. It’s a slow emotional burn, leading with the heat before simmering into a heavier, nuanced read.

The story follows Finn, the sports agent that we met in previous books in the Play Hard series (NOT required reading). Let’s just say that he’s got some damage from his past, and his fight or flight instincts always kick in whenever women want more than sex from him – with flight always winning out. When Finn meets Stevie, she is grieving the loss of her father and acting out in self-destructive ways. There’s something about Stevie that draws Finn to her, but his fight or flight instincts have him running scared – and his new role as her “babysitter” doesn’t help matters. They’re stuck together for the foreseeable future, so Finn is forced to dig deeper with Stevie than he ever has before. Getting to know a woman that he’s incredibly attracted to might just be Finn’s greatest fear.

I loved the super lusty, enemies to lovers dynamic in this. These two are drawn together by their sizzling chemistry, but neither one is in the right headspace for more. They’re both afraid of an emotional connection, and the conflict that ensues had me absolutely glued to the page. I just devoured this. Bromberg excels at writing steamy scenes that bleed intimacy and reveal SO MUCH about the characters, and these two communicate with their bodies in such interesting ways. I actually liked Finn quite a bit; going into this, he was a villain who cheated in past relationships, and I wasn’t sure that I was going to like him. That was not an issue. Yes, he was a little harsh at times, but it was easy to understand what was going on inside his head, and the story is that much stronger for it. Finn and Stevie’s personalities are what make this such a dynamic, addictive read. My only real complaints are minor ones: there needed to be a longer conversation about Finn’s (past, in another relationship) cheating to resolve that storyline, and Stevie’s obvious daddy issues made elements of this age gap romance slightly cringey. Neither of those things were significant problems for me. This makes an excellent addition to what has been an outstanding series, and I’m sad to see it go. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this sexy sports romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/38POJfm


OTHER TOP PICKS

A smitten bad boy? Yes, please! I absolutely LOVED this hero, a guy who listens to the devil on his shoulder too often. He’s moody, broody, tattooed, and talented – and he’s a total softie on the inside. This one’s a little bit enemies to lovers, a little bit friends to lovers, and a whole lot of opposites attract. The chemistry is SMOKIN’ hot, and the sexual tension is there from start to finish. I devoured it in one sitting, and I have no regrets. Sorensen is an excellent writer who never disappoints – and I’m definitely looking forward to more from the series.

The story follows Dominic, a pro football player who has a reputation for acting out. Tempers and tension were the norm on his old team, but Dominic has just moved to a new city – and he’s already made a terrible first impression. When he’s sentenced to some community service, Dominic meets Faith. Faith is the daughter of the team’s owner, and Dominic assumes that she’s just another spoiled rich girl. But when Dominic discovers that Faith is actually the girl he befriended online years ago, he sees her in a whole new light. And the devil on Dominic’s shoulder encourages him to see if Faith would fall for the brooding bad boy version of him… without revealing that they’ve been virtual friends for years.

I loved Dominic, I really did. It’s easy to see that he’s more bark than bite, and once he discovers Faith’s “other” identity, it’s a game-changer. They’ve got the kind of instant chemistry that keeps you glued to the pages, and knowing that there’s already an established connection makes the instalust a lot easier to handle. These two are SEXY together, and while this is a slow burn, it’s a fan-worthy one. There are sparks in their every interaction, and the tension of the lie (of omission) between them takes everything up another notch. Longtime fans of the author will appreciate how this ties into the Washington Wolves series, but newer fans will have absolutely no trouble reading this as a standalone series starter. I can’t wait for more from the series, and that sneak peek at the end has me SO ready for the next couple. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this sports romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3iMBQZE


I’m a VERY picky lady when it comes to second chance romances, so when one holds my attention throughout – it’s a win! The obvious love and connection between these former lovers kept me hooked, and the deeper undertones of the story made it a richer experience. This has the same kind of vibe as The Trouble With Hating You, but I liked this heroine a LOT more than the previous one. I also ADORED the mysterious, sweetheart of a hero, and I kinda loved trying to read between the lines to figure him out (we only get the heroine’s perspective). Was every part of this successful? No. I’ve definitely got a few minor complaints. But it’s such a unique, intricate story that I got a little grumpy every time my reading was interrupted. And that’s a sure sign that I was loving a book.

The story follows Preeti, a doctor just finishing up her residency. On the surface, it seems like she’s got a great life – her career is on track, she’s dating a handsome man that her discerning Indian family approves of, and an engagement is on the horizon. But there’s something off about all of it. Anxiety is starting to eat Preeti up from the inside, and her touch aversion around her boyfriend has not lessened up, even after months of dating. So when Preeti’s ex comes storming back into her life – as her temporary roommate, no less – it’s a shock to the system. One minute in Daniel’s presence, and Preeti remembers why he’s the love of her life. The two can’t stand to be in the same room together – because Preeti knows exactly why she ended things between them, and Daniel struggles to understand how their seemingly perfect love story could’ve fallen apart.

I loved the delicious TENSION in this: Daniel can’t understand why Preeti would be willing to marry an obviously incompatible man, yet kicked him to the curb at the peak of their love. There is so much love simmering beneath the surface, it was easy to see in every interaction, despite the conflict between these two. This is definitely an emotional, angsty story, with a strong focus on culture, family, and mental health. It’s got great depth, and I was rooting for Preeti and Daniel the whole time. So what didn’t I love? Well, first of all, Preeti does kinda cheat on her boyfriend, at least emotionally – and her friends were encouraging it. You’d better believe that some of her actions were not acceptable. I can forgive that because they had zero emotional connection, but she’s definitely in the wrong. Also, there is some OW/OM drama just to stir up trouble between Preeti and Daniel, which was necessary conflict for the story but not my favorite. This has such a diverse cast of characters (Preeti is Indian American and Daniel is Black), and I loved seeing the parallels between the two communities. This slow-burning, closed door romance will probably work best for those who like women’s fiction/romance crossovers, because it’s a little bit of both – with the romance central throughout. I’m absolutely looking forward to more from this series! I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this second chance romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3tS7skr


Did you see my October Release Calendar?

It includes the 35+ October releases I’m excited about AND 200+ upcoming books that are available for preorder! Check it out here.


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