It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these, so I thought I’d talk about some of the books that DIDN’T work for me, for one reason or another. That’s almost as good as reviewing them, lol, and I think it’s important to talk about. There’s no shame in setting aside books that aren’t working for you personally.
Do you ever DNF (do not finish) books? I do! Though I love a bad book almost as much as a good one (sometimes you’ve just gotta roll your eyes and see how it all turns out), there are times when I will abandon a book along the way. Sometimes it’s really just a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing, sometimes it’s clear right away that a book is just BAD, and other times a tired trope will get on my nerves. There are so many different reasons to DNF a book, and not all of them indicate that it’s subpar.
And, yes, sometimes I do go back to books I tossed aside and realize that I must’ve been PMSing that day because they work much better the second time around!
DNF: Unlike Love Scenes (which I loved), I struggled to connect to the characters in this road trip romance. I love the premise, and I’m a fan of Morrissey’s writing, but their tangled history and decade of silence just didn’t sit right with me. I found myself distracted from the point of the road trip, and that resulted in this being easier to put down than I expected. After several unsuccessful attempts to get invested in the story, I decided to set this aside for now and revisit it down the road. I’m sure fans of friends to lovers and second chance romances will have an easier time getting invested in the story, because much of this is good.
A Thousand Miles by Bridget Morrissey
After a decade of silence, Dee and Ben reunite for a road trip they once promised to take. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Dee Matthews is the cohost of the smash-hit podcast Did I Forget To Tell You?, where she interviews family, friends, and past lovers. Nothing is off limits, except for one man (known on the show only as Name Redacted) who happens to be her high school best friend Ben. During their senior year spring break, Dee and Ben took a road trip to visit Ben’s grandma. They buried a time capsule in her backyard, pledging to return in ten years to open it. Then their friendship fell apart in spectacular fashion. They haven’t spoken to each other since.
Ben Porter’s life since that moment has been unexciting but comfortable, until his grandma reveals a family secret that flips his whole world upside down. Her dying wish is for him to stop doing what is safest and go after what he really wants. He starts by showing up on Dee’s doorstep with every intention of fulfilling their long-ago promise. Despite her reservations, Dee can’t say no. This trip could be her chance to give her listeners the Name Redacted interview they’ve been begging for—and finally put her unresolved feelings for Ben to rest.
As the miles fly by, Dee and Ben’s friendship reignites. But the closer they get to reaching their destination, the more apparent it becomes that their attraction to each other cannot be ignored. Their last adventure ended in disaster, and they’re about to find out if any hope of a future together is in the rear view mirror.
DNF for now: I listened to the audio version, and the narrator’s voice was nice, but her performance was sooooooooo slow. I tried adjusting to different speeds, and couldn’t settle on a speed that I could comprehend that also didn’t make me incredibly impatient to keep things moving. And when the narrator voiced the hero, it was just all wrong – definitely didn’t depict the kind of guy that’s described in the text. So, unfortunately, I could never get invested in the story because I was so distracted by the audio performance. I did like some of the themes that were explored, and this had the potential to be an intelligent, spicy read, but my distraction made this very easy to put down. I would definitely check out the story again in the future, but I wouldn’t revisit the audio. So, I’ll likely go back to the text once I’ve distanced myself enough from this frustrating experience.
Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter
The first time Aja Owens encounters the man of her dreams, she’s having a panic attack in the frozen foods section of the Piggly Wiggly. The second time, he’s being introduced to her as her favorite bingo buddy’s semi-estranged grandson. From there, all it takes is one game for her to realize that he’s definitely going to be a problem. And if there’s anything she already has a surplus of, it’s problems.
In Walker Abbott’s mind, there are only two worthwhile things in Greenbelt, South Carolina. The peach cobbler at his old favorite diner and his ailing grandmother. Dragging himself back after more than a decade away, he’s counting down the days until Gram heals and he can get back to his real life. Far away from the trauma inside of those city limits. Just when he thinks his plan is solid, enter Aja to shake everything up.
A hastily made bingo-based sex pact is supposed to keep this…thing between them from getting out of hand. Especially when submitting to their feelings means disrupting their carefully balanced lives. But emotions are just like bingo callers—they refuse to be ignored.
Jodie Slaughter’s Bet on It is a heart-stoppingly fun, emotional romance that will have readers falling in love until long after the last page is turned.
Lost Interest for now: Geissinger is one of my very favorite authors, and both the cover and blurb are great, but this was marketed as a dark romance, and (for many readers) it is… not. Following backlash from early reviewers who started reading with the impression that this had an HEA, the author is now describing this as an “erotic thriller,” though most readers will only have seen marketing as a romance when they start reading. I’m going to save this for a day when I’m in the mood for something twisty and am willing to accept a less-than-happy ever after. And so continues the streak of my most anticipated summer releases disappointing me!
Pen Pal by J.T. Geissinger
The first letter arrived the day my husband was buried. It was postmarked from the state penitentiary, and contained a single sentence:
I’ll wait forever if I have to.
It was signed by Dante, a man I didn’t know.
Out of simple curiosity, I wrote back to ask him what exactly he was waiting for. His reply?
I told the mystery man he had the wrong girl. He said he didn’t. I said we’d never met, but he said I was wrong.
We went back and forth for a year, exchanging letters every week that grew increasingly more intimate. Then one day, the letters stopped. When I found out why, it was already too late.
Dante was at my doorstep.
And nothing on earth could have prepared me for what happened next.
DNF: I’m a fan of the series, but this particular installment failed to resonate with me. I found it very easy to set down, which is perhaps because the tropes in this one are just less appealing to me, personally. The writing is still solid with plenty of lighthearted moments and some family fun, but it’s missing the swoon factor that I found present in the other books. I’m sure there are readers who will love this, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.
A Little Wilder by Serena Bell
What happened in Vegas? Definitely didn’t stay in Vegas.
Gabe’s the oldest. Brody’s the bad boy. Clark’s the strong, silent warrior. Amanda’s the girl. And Easton—well, Easton’s the panty melter.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad job. But usually, I’m not the one people are talking about.
That’s about to change. Because the woman I had a smoking hot one-night stand with in Vegas? The one I should have stayed far, far away from, since women like her are my kryptonite?
She’s the same woman my brother just hired to redesign his fancy new glamping RVs.
I haven’t seen her since Vegas, but the instant I lay eyes on her, I can tell my quiet role as the boy-next-door brother is about to change.
And it’s mine.
A steamy, small-town, accidental pregnancy, one-night-to-forever standalone romantic comedy by the USA Today bestselling author of Sleepover.
DNF: I enjoyed The Dating Playbook, so I decided to take a chance on the sequel, even though friends with benefits storylines are not a favorite of mine, and I already knew that this heroine might be too intense for me. Unfortunately, both of those things were this book’s downfall – for me, personally. There’s a lot of good stuff going on in the story, and I know that enemies with benefits storylines are more popular than ever. So I definitely think there’s an audience for this, and it’s another solid installment to the series. I’m looking forward to more from Rochon in the future, this just wasn’t a good fit for me.
The Hookup Plan by Farrah Rochon
Strong female friendships and a snappy enemies-to-lovers theme take center stage in this highly anticipated romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Dating Playbook.
Successful pediatric surgeon London Kelley just needs to find some balance and de-stress. According to her friends Samiah and Taylor, what London really needs is a casual hookup. A night of fun with no strings. But no one—least of all London—expected it to go down at her high school reunion with Drew Sullivan, millionaire, owner of delicious abs, and oh yes, her archnemesis.
Now London is certain the road to hell is paved with good sex. Because she’s found out the real reason Drew’s back in Austin: to decide whether her beloved hospital remains open. Worse, Drew is doing everything he can to show her that he’s a decent guy who actually cares. But London’s not falling for it. Because while sleeping with the enemy is one thing, falling for him is definitely not part of the plan.
DNF: After starting and stopping several times, I realized that I dreaded the reading experience every time I picked up the book. I loved The Love Hypothesis, Kiss Quotient, etc, but that didn’t translate into love for this story. I also didn’t like the relationship development between these two friends – the whole thing felt off. Ultimately, I set the book aside and felt no desire to see how it all turned out.
Audio note: Mixed feelings on the audio! I enjoyed the female narrator; her voice was easy to listen to, and she performed well. The male narrator… not so much. I liked his voice, but his performance was stilted and awkward. Some parts were fine, and then he would take an extended pause or his inflection would be off. It took me out of the story, and that wasn’t great. Perhaps with more experience, the male narrator will get better, I don’t know. So I’d recommend this audiobook only to those who prefer the format – it’s not going to win any new listeners over, but it wasn’t bad overall.
The Sizzle Paradox by Lily Menon
The Kiss Quotient meets Love Potion No. 9 in the next sparkling romantic comedy by Lily Menon, The Sizzle Paradox.
Lyric Bishop feels like a fraud – she’s studying sexual chemistry in romantic partners and what makes for a successful long-term relationship, only she can’t seem to figure it out in her own dating life. The science is sound, but how can she give her expert opinion with no real-world experience? In order to complete her doctoral thesis, she must crack the Sizzle Paradox – it seems the more sexually attractive she finds a guy, the less likely it is to come with an emotional connection; but why? – and to do that she must get the help she desperately needs.
Kian Montgomery, her best friend, roommate, and fellow grad student, has no trouble bringing both romance and sizzle to his own relationships. When he offers to tutor Lyric on dating tactics to find a good match, she’s certain it will solve her problems, and in exchange she agrees to set long-term-commitment-averse Kian up with someone different to give his romantic life a much-needed shakeup.
But once the two progress with their “tutoring sessions,” they start to feel less like the academic exercise they were supposed to be as real feelings develop. Which is a problem, because Lyric and Kian are best friends and absolutely, irrefutably nothing else… Right?
DNF for now: Love Bromberg, hate second chances. I started listening to the audiobook on release day, and I just… never picked it back up after setting it down that night. I’m sure I’ll finish it before the next book in the series releases, but it didn’t really win me over.
Audio note: The audio is excellent! I probably stuck around longer because of the quality audio performances.
On One Condition by K. Bromberg
First loves deserve a second chance in an all-new small town, billionaire romance by New York Times bestselling author, K. Bromberg.
The requirement is ridiculous but simple. Spend two months in Cedar Falls and play the mayor’s games to ensure that The Retreat, Sharpe International’s newest resort, can open.
But I have a history with this small, Montana town. One I’d tried to forget but never could. AsherWells. My Lavender Girl.
She’d had dreams and aspirations to leave Cedar Falls and make her mark on the world. So why is she still here, standing in front of me? And more importantly, why is she looking at me with hurt in her eyes when I was the one who‘d been forced to leave or else face the damning consequences of that night?
I have everything in life: money, success, an empire to run . . . everything except for one, very important thing. Her.
Fifteen years is a long time to wonder. . . what if. I’ll be damned if I leave town this time without her.
Lost Interest: Another second chance romance! I was on the fence about picking this up because the blurb had a few red flags, but I do love Madden-Mills’ writing. Unfortunately, early reviews made it clear that this was heavier and less romance-focused than I was hoping, so I’ve lost interest.
Boyfriend Material by Ilsa Madden-Mills
Can this hockey player prove he’s boyfriend material, or will our past get in the way?
#1 Amazon Bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers an all-new, enemies-to-lovers sports romance, a breathtaking tale of passion, heartbreak, and love…
Skyscraper cheekbones, lush lips, and magnetic topaz eyes.
Yeah. I’m talking about Eric Hansen.
Glorified hockey star.
Thinks he’s amazing.
The Golden Boy and I are WELL acquainted. In prep school he trampled on my heart and kept right on going.
Now, he’s living the high life with frat parties and puck bunnies at Hawthorne University. On the other hand, people barely notice me—unless I’m on stage taking my clothes off. I’m the nobody, surviving in the seedy part of town as I fight to keep my head above treacherous waters.
I’ve snubbed him for three years.
The avoidance game we’ve been playing was working—until he rescues me from a bad guy and claims he wants to help me more.
Hello. I don’t need a knight in shining armor. This girl saves herself.
Yet, I’m not sure how long I can ignore the undeniable spark between us. (It’s not even a spark; it’s a full-fledged, blazing fire.)
This steamy romance is perfect for fans of enemies-to-lovers or second-chances. Boyfriend Material is a new adult college romance.
DNF: Friends to lovers paired with friends with benefits is a surefire way to turn me off, especially if they cross the line quickly. As much as I love Harlow’s writing, I just couldn’t get into this one.
Tease by Melanie Harlow
I didn’t mean to say I was engaged to a hot billionaire–it just slipped out.
In my defense, I’d had a really bad haircut, a really strong drink, and I was trying to save face in front of the Mean Girl at my high school reunion.
Lucky for me, I happen to know a hot billionaire. Hutton French and I have been friends forever, and even though big social gatherings are not his thing, I called him from the coat closet and begged him for a favor–show up and play my fake fiancé for the night.
Except that word of our engagement spreads like wildfire. Our families are ecstatic. We’re front page news. My little food blog is launched into the stratosphere.
Of course, I offer to set the record straight right away, but Hutton wants to give it a little time–the phony engagement will keep his matrimony-mad mother and every matchmaking granny in town off his back.
He even suggests I move in with him to make the ruse more real.
And we don’t stop there.
We practice kissing. Undressing each other. Saying things–and doing things–we’d never dare if we weren’t pretending. Because it’s all for show, right? We’re just role-playing. Hutton doesn’t want a real relationship, and I don’t want to get hurt. But the more time we spend faking it, the more I start to wonder.
Could Hutton French and I actually be right for each other, or is it all just one big tease?
DNF: I might go back to this one, I don’t know. In a month with second chance and friends to lovers disappointments, this one is kind of a combo of both – I was already in the wrong mood when I started reading. I’ll probably go back to it down the road.
The Crush by Karla Sorensen
You know that girl from your past that you can’t quite stop thinking about? The one that you pushed away because you had a goal that seemed so much bigger, so much more important than any crush you might have had?
That’s Adaline Wilder for me.
Nothing came before football. Not in college, and not in my five years in the pros. All I wanted was to win games, win a championship, carve my own path out of the illustrious Ward family football legacy. And I’ve done all that. But something is missing.
I’ve never been wrong about what I want. Except with her.
She moved on to someone else, but that baseball playing moron just broke her heart. I don’t blame her for not trusting me, but even Adaline can’t deny the heat when we’re together.
I have one shot at winning her back. And I intend to take it.
DNF for now: Not sure if it was my mood or the heroine’s personality, but I’m had trouble with this one! And that’s a shame, because I loved A Not So Meet Cute and I was really looking forward to this. Rather than struggle through, I’m set it aside so I can go in fresh on another day.
Side note: The audio is great! It’s duet-style (my favorite), and adds a lot of fun to the vibe.
So Not Meant to Be by Meghan Quinn
Not sure if it’s my mood or the heroine’s personality, but I’m having trouble with this one! And that’s a shame, because I loved A Not So Meet Cute and I was really looking forward to this. Rather than struggle through, I’m setting it aside so I can go in fresh on another day.
Side note: The audio is great! It’s duet-style (my favorite), and adds a lot of fun to the vibe.
From USA Today and Amazon Charts bestselling author Meghan Quinn, comes a fresh take on a romantic comedy classic, When Harry Met Sally. This steamy, laugh-out-loud, enemies to lovers romance is about an annoyingly handsome coworker and the woman who refuses to be charmed by him.
Am I friends with JP Cane?
Ha! That’s laughable.
Besides the fact that he’s adopted some far-fetched notion from the movie When Harry Met Sally that says men and women can’t be friends and work together, it’s safe to say we’re not friends. He’s annoyingly loud, obnoxiously handsome, and has made an art out of poking all my hot buttons . . . multiple times a day.
So you can imagine how disgruntled I am when I not only have to fly to San Francisco with him for work, but stay in the same penthouse. Yup, we’re sharing the same air, twenty-four-seven. We’re talking full-fledged working roommates.
The man doesn’t know what it means to wear a shirt, thrives off protein bars, and you guessed it, moans loud enough for people to believe he’s Meg Ryan in a restaurant.
Spoiler Alert: I WON’T be having what he’s having.
Tack on his continuous flirting and his polished good looks, and I’m caught staring down the barrel of a seductive temptation that makes it hard for me to sleep at night.
But guess who can control herself? This girl.
Because if there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that JP Cane and I are so not meant to be.
DNF: It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t a good fit for me, so I set it down.
Risky Business by Lauren Landish
Secrets are my life.
Perception is everything, and I’m extraordinarily good at helping my clients hide their dirt—until him.
Bad press about your latest movie flop? I can twist it.
Need to repair your image after an embarrassing walk of shame? I got you.
Reputation refresh? That’s me too.
But my latest client challenges me in ways I never anticipated.
The heir apparent at the center of a media firestorm that’s taking down his family’s amusement park kingdom.
I can help the drop-dead sexy, danger-loving, motorcycle-riding jerk… if he’ll let me.
I’m just trying to do my job. But his eyes follow me, his touch tempts me, and his honesty is so refreshingly hot I’m melting.
Falling for a client shatters all the rules, but the need feels undeniable. It’s a huge risk to love Carson, but is it riskier not to?
**Risky Business is a full-length romance with a HEA and no cliffhanger!
Want to know more about the books that actually worked for me?
Check out my list of the Best Romance Books I’ve Read in Kindle Unlimited (2022 So Far #2)*
*As of June 28th!
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