Best of March 2022

Redemption seemed to be the theme of the month, and I’m not complaining! This is one of those months where I would’ve anticipated a completely different group of books making my Best of the Month list, so the surprise discoveries were that much sweeter. I’ve got two new-to-me authors, two newer-to-me authors, and two rising stars on this list – and none of my one-click authors! That just opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

As for the heroes, well, they all seemed to need some form of redemption. My favorite book of the month (and year so far) might just be Hook, Line, and Sinker, featuring a reformed playboy who tries to make himself a better man for the girl he’s fallen for. The swoon factor was huge with that one, and the slow burn to sizzle was a major win. I also really loved Unsuitable, which is not a new release, but was brought back to life by TikTok, lol! I finally moved it up my TBR – it’s been in my library for years – and WOW, am I glad I did. The volatile (anti)hero at the heart of it needed someone to remind him that life is worth living, and I loved the tension-filled vibe. My other top pick is the marriage of convenience/office romance, Terms and Conditions, starring a broody boss who needs to change his ways if he has any hope of keeping the girl. All three books were completely different, but really made my month.

I’ve also got three Honorable Mentions on this list – three solid, bingeable reads. I loved the broken antihero in Say It’s Forever, a big teddy bear of a man just looking for someone to love him despite his past. The Potter also had a unique hero, a doctor who can’t seem to get out of a dark place until a ray of sunshine enters his life. Finally, the Vegas wedding-turned-marriage of convenience romance, Shenanigans, features a couple who started off on the wrong foot before slowly coming together as husband and wife.

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

If you missed my April Release Calendar, you can find it here!


TOP PICKS

Yeah, I might’ve swooned over this book – and this beautifully broken hero – in a big way. I devoured it in one sitting, and I was hooked the whole way through. I really, really LOVED it. We met this couple in It Happened One Summer, the first stellar book in this interconnected series, and I’ve been impatiently waiting for their love story ever since. I’ll admit to being a little worried about this playboy of a hero, but I shouldn’t have been – he’s the best part. It’s angstier and more emotional than I anticipated, with a focus on self-worth, expectations, reputations, and doubt. Fox is more broken than anyone knew, and he’s got to piece himself back together if he’s got any hope of a future with his girl. I loved the intimacy, the level of trust and determination, and this slow burn to SIZZLE romance had the kind of sexual tension that heats up the pages.

The story follows Fox, a fisherman whose playboy reputation has followed him around since high school. He’s always been the good time guy, the man who leaves before his heart is involved – and no one expects anything different from him. Fox met Hannah last summer, and she sparked something inside of him that he doesn’t know how to handle. When Hannah left town, she kept in touch in Fox, and they’ve developed a text-based friendship in the months since. So when she returns to town and moves in with Fox temporarily, it puts their friendship to the test. Things between them don’t feel purely platonic, but Fox is confident that he can’t be the man Hannah deserves… even if he wants to be.

Will this read as a standalone? I guess so, but I don’t recommend it. We met both Hannah and Fox in It Happened One Summer, and the foundation of their relationship was developed there. When Hook, Line and Sinker begins, they’ve been friends for months and are already teetering on the edge of more. I actually really loved that element of the story – Fox has been quietly working on himself for months, and he’s already started to change and grow. He might not believe himself worthy of Hannah, but he’s proving that he can be the man she deserves. I’m not always the biggest fan of reformed playboys (especially in a friends to lovers scenario), but this was executed in such a great way. Yeah, the focus of the book is Fox’s past and his doubts about the future, but his actions showcase all of the ways he’s worthy. I adored him, even if I kinda wanted to shake him sometimes. Together, these two have some serious chemistry, and their love story was so immensely compelling – I might’ve even liked it more than the first book, and that set a very high bar. This had my heart in my throat the whole way through, and I couldn’t help swooning. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy, and am voluntarily leaving a review of this emotional romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3h7UMRf


Grumpy boss with feelings that run deeper than he wants to admit? Umm, yes please! I absolutely LOVED my first experience with this new-to-me author’s work – the story gave me Spanish Love Deception/Love Hypothesis vibes, and that’s honestly one of the highest compliments I can pay a book right now. This slow burning love story had me HOOKED the whole way through, and I loved the dynamic between this couple. Our hero is the typical moody, broody billionaire, but he’s got a marshmallow heart for only one girl. His assistant, Iris, has put up with his grumpy demands for the last few years, and she’s the only one who has stuck by his side. I’ve been loving marriage of convenience romances recently, and this one works so well. They have a history to build on, plenty of chemistry, and the shift in their dynamic shakes things up. I loved it!

The story follows Iris, a woman whose boss doesn’t always appreciate her hard work. She’s been working for Declan for the last three years, and it’s a little shocking to everyone that she’s lasted this long. Iris even arranged a marriage of convenience for Declan, only to have it fall apart at the last minute. Declan’s job is the most important thing in his life, and he needed that marriage to make things work. So what does this great employee do? Offer to marry her boss, of course. They may not like each other very much, but they’ve figured each other out over the years, and surely a marriage – on paper – can’t be that bad. But things quickly feel more real than anticipated, and it’s not long before Declan and Iris are seeing each other in an entirely new light.

This plays with a variety of tropes – enemies to lovers, age gap (24/36), office romance, marriage of convenience, grumpy/sunshine – and yet it still feels fresh and vibrant. I loved the tropey goodness as much as I loved the unique, swoony vibes, and I was rooting for this unlikely couple from the very beginning. They have an easiness to their relationship that’s in direct contrast to their constant clashes, and it was so engrossing to watch the sexual tension escalate. It’s a slow burn in many ways, though you can tell that emotions run deeper than either of these commitment-phobic individuals will acknowledge. Watching them try to get it right was light and funny one minute, a little angsty the next, tension-filled – and infinitely compelling. This may be my first time reading something by the author, but it will certainly not be the last. Eagerly anticipating the next installment from this series of interconnected standalones.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3vywHLf


Well. Shame on me for having this in my library for literal years without reading it – it was PHENOMENAL! My eyes were absolutely glued to every single page once I got a feel for the story. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting the plot to be about, but this surprised me in the BEST of ways. It’s tense, sexy, angsty, heartbreaking, dark, suspenseful, uplifting, and intimate all at once, with emotion packed into every scene. They say that hurt people hurt people, and that’s never been truer than with the characters in this book; they’ve both endured unspeakable things, and that influences every interaction (tons of triggers in this one). The sexual tension snaps and crackles, with a slow-burning love story that takes these two from strangers to enemies/boss and employee to lovers as they grow and evolve throughout. I pulled an all-nighter because I was so immersed in this unpredictable love story that I wasn’t willing to go to sleep without finishing – and that’s the highest compliment that I can pay a book.

The story follows Daisy, a woman who was just released from prison. Her life was ruined because she trusted the wrong man, and that experience has made an impact. She couldn’t clear her name, but she’s determined to move forward – and that means doing everything she can to get custody of her teenage brother back. When Daisy is assigned a job working as a maid at a large estate, she has no idea what’s in store for her. Her new boss is a temperamental jerk who can’t seem to stand the sight of her, and their volatile interactions threaten to jeopardize everything Daisy is working towards. But as Daisy gets to know Kas better, she realizes that there is a softer side of him lurking beneath the surface. He’s an angry Kas-hole one moment and a caring guy the next, so the contrasts are endlessly confusing. And as his softer side starts to show up more frequently, it becomes impossible to ignore the connection between them.

We only get Daisy’s perspective, so it took a long, long time to piece Kas together. I kinda loved that. Just like Daisy, I wanted to slap and kiss him in equal measure, but I loved that Daisy always stood her ground. Her own life experiences gave her the fire to withstand his pressure, and that just made the tension ratchet up to unexpected levels. The whole thing was unexpected, honestly. I managed to go into this blind, and that is definitely how I would recommend proceeding. I wasn’t entirely sure that I was liking the vibe at the beginning, but once Daisy and Kas started interacting more, I could not put it down. The heat and tension between them was immensely compelling, and I wanted to know more about the mysterious man at the heart of the story. My heart ached for both of them, and I wanted to see these characters heal together. Every frustration and struggle ended up being worth it; this was SUCH a great read, easily one of my favorites of the year. And I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

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


HONORABLE MENTION

This reformed antihero just wants someone to love him for who he is, and I couldn’t help but swoon over the vulnerability. The man needed a hug, and a little lightness in his life. I loved how perfectly these two complement each other – they’re both broken, with complicated pasts that leave them running scared of the connection that sparks between them. It’s instalove combined with instant terror, because they both have very good reasons for avoiding commitment. I kinda loved that the connection was never in question; it was everything else that got in this couple’s way. And there’s something insanely compelling about a big brute of a man showing his insecurities while opening his heart to love. Combined with some suspense and an unpredictable storyline, and this made for one compelling read.

The story follows Salem, a single mom who is running from her past. When her car breaks down and she meets a rugged stranger on the side of the road, Salem has no idea what’s in store for her. Jud may seem like a terrifying guy – and he openly admits to being no good – but he’s just what Salem needs in that moment. They both have reasons for fighting the attraction, but it soon becomes impossible to stay away. And the more Salem gets to know Jud, the more she sees the goodness that he believes is tarnished by his past. Neither one may be ready for love, but it’s coming for them anyways.

While Salem is a good heroine, it’s Jud who steals the show here. He’s tormented by his past, and vulnerable to hits against his heart. I loved that he was such a big teddy bear of a man; tattooed, tortured and tough, but so soft in the ways that matter. The chemistry was obvious right away, and it ignites in ways that make this a STEAMY and satisfying read. Jud and Salem felt like they were perfect for each other, though the vibe of the book remained angsty and tense throughout. They fight that connection and try to deny what’s in front of them, but it was obvious that their pasts are what will connect them in the future. Jackson’s lyrical writing added a layer of intrigue and mystery to this suspenseful story – the details of the past unravel slowly, and the style lends itself well to that. There are such interesting parallels in their lives, and I liked that certain things were repeated and reinforced. I’ll admit that the writing style sometimes left me a little confused. I’m sure some of that was intentional, but I’m also not sure if (SPOILERtechnically both characters are still married to other people for the entire book? I kinda think so, but it’s never overtly acknowledged. I was completely okay with the scenario, but it may be an issue for some readers. There are also plenty of other triggers, so please be aware of that going in. It’s an angsty, steamy read that drew me right in and held my attention the whole way through.

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


He’s a hot billionaire hockey player AND super sweet? Too good to be true! I found myself really loving the hero at the heart of this Vegas wedding romance. While our heroine struggles with self-doubt and a lack of trust, this hero rises to the occasion and shows that he’s worth fighting for. I’m still pretty new to this series of interconnected standalones and I thought Bombshells was disappointing, so I went into this with low expectations – and was definitely pleasantly surprised. I loved how these two start as reluctant friends before transitioning into more, and I loved how steadfast our hero is. Neither one wanted this marriage (sober, anyways), but they make it work and grow along the way. It’s a slow burn to SIZZLE romance with some great heat in the back half, and I had no trouble enjoying this from start to finish.

The story follows Neil and Charli, two professional hockey players who get hitched in Vegas. Drunkenly, very drunkenly. Their relationship started off a little rocky, and adding rings to the mix has only made things exceedingly more complicated. Neil is not just a pro hockey player, he also comes from a very wealthy family – and they didn’t exactly plan ahead and get a prenup. That causes plenty of trouble for the reluctant couple, especially since Charli’s past makes her wary of the wealthy. Neither one is enthusiastic about the marriage, but they agree to present a united front against Neil’s family… and soon find themselves falling. But starting a relationship when the divorce papers are already drawn up means this couple is likely to stumble along the way.

This had light and sexy vibes throughout, with just enough angst to keep things interesting. Neil never considered Charli a romantic option before their night in Vegas – she said she doesn’t date guys – but Charli already had her guard up against the charming player. She’s the kind of heroine who fights her feelings the whole way through, and it probably would’ve been too much if Neil hadn’t been such a great guy. I loved how determined he was to make things work, and he was a steady rock perfectly complementing Charli’s stormy nature. They certainly had chemistry, and the first steamy scene cemented that connection (and it was super sexy). This was a low 5/solid 4-star read for me the whole way though, with only some uneven pacing towards the end threatening that rating. Overall, a very solid read, and it’s got me excited for more from the author. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this Vegas wedding romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3LE6ZdY


“This was supposed to be a release. A bandage for the ache. But now, as she holds my face, with our noses pressed together, I let her watch as she tears down the barrier between us, her body taking my demons and burying them inside.”

This earns its 5 stars for being so BINGEABLE and unpredictable that I completely lost track of time while reading. I sat down with it at seven at night, then OOPS, it was one in the morning, lol. I really had no idea what to expect from the story, and that had me hooked in a way that was a little addicting. The dynamic is TENSE, sexy, banter-filled, and slightly outlandish. “Dramedy” sounds about right, because it’s sort of got enemies to lovers vibes and it tackles heavier subjects, but there’s a lot that feels like a rom com. It opens with a statement saying that the story takes many liberties with both the law and the field of medicine, and… yeah, that checks out. This isn’t your typical doctor’s office, the typical (almost) boss/employee dynamic, and it’s certainly not the way I’d let any of my doctors treat me. But the story is undeniably compelling, and it feels like the start of a brand new series of interconnected standalones.

The story follows Halle (23), a woman who has spent the last few years working towards one goal: getting healthy (and wealthy) enough for Dr. Potter (35) to perform surgery that will put the past behind her. An aspiring actress, Halle’s dreams were taken from her when an accident left her severely scarred, and she wants the esteemed surgeon to smooth out the rough edges of her life. But the man she meets is nothing like the selfless surgeon Halle envisioned; he’s cold, bitter, and refuses to treat her without explaining why. Unfortunately for Dr. Potter, Halle has no intention of taking no for an answer, so she soon finds herself working for his brother, another surgeon in the office. Seeing each other every day makes the two realize that there’s something sizzling beneath the surface, and they might need to put each other’s broken pieces back together if they want to move forward themselves.

This definitely has a very different vibe than the last few books I read by Marie, but I was all too happy to go along for the ride. Dr. Potter is more of a jerk than a grump, but it’s easy to see that he’s hurting too – even doctors need to heal sometimes. Paired with the ever-optimistic Halle, they were sexual tension-fueled FIRE, and I loved the opposites attract dynamic. The steam was a little more intense than expected, as this doctor doesn’t give up control easily. That’s probably the only place where this wasn’t a total win for me; personal preference left me slightly uncomfortable with a few of the situations. That pales in comparison to my enjoyment of the rest of the book though, which was immensely compelling in its uniqueness. I’ve never read a romance quite like it, and that is always a major plus. Here’s hoping we get more of Dr. Potter’s brothers, who seem to have their own tortured pasts – I’m both nervous and excited for their stories, lol. I received an early copy via WordSmith Publicity and am voluntarily leaving a review of this forbidden romance.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3LHyaEO


Did you see my April Release Calendar?

It includes the 30+ April releases I’m excited about AND 200+ upcoming books that are available for preorder! Check it out here.


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