BLOGIVERSARY & Revisiting My Top 19 of 2019

It’s the blog’s 3 year anniversary, and time really does fly when you’re having fun! When I created my website at the end of 2019, I had no idea what was in store for me. I’d been reading and reviewing a LOT for about two years at that point, and it seemed like a natural next step in my journey, a fun thing to try. My most popular post in 2019 was my Top 19 of 2019 list, which had a whopping 11 views that year. In contrast, my most popular post in 2022 has had over 40,000 views this year. So, uh, the blog has grown a bit, lol! I never could’ve anticipated the community that I’ve found in the last three years, and it’s been such a wild ride.

In honor of the blogiversary, I decided to check out my Top 19 of 2019 list, and it really does hold up! I love celebrating my favorite books of the year, and that list deserved to be seen by more than 11 people. So I’ve included it below, complete with my original 2019 commentary about each book, as well as updates about how I feel now. I won’t include my review links, because I’ve definitely gotten better with those over the last three years, lol.

Blogging is something that is ever-evolving – I connect with new audiences every day, I learn and grow constantly, I review more/fewer books depending on my mood/life – but it’s always been very fulfilling for me at the end of the day. Here’s to learning and growing even more in year four! Thanks for your support.


TOP 19 OF 2019

Dangerous Beauty Trilogy by J.T. Geissinger

ORIGINAL: An intense, action-packed adventure, this trilogy will get your heart pumping. Dangerous Beauty is all about the chemistry, showcasing a forbidden romance that’s the foundation for the rest of the series. There are triggers galore as the series gets darker and grittier in the sequels, but the payoff is worth it in the end. I’ve got to be in the right mood for romantic suspense, but this series held my attention from start to finish and the cliffhangers at the end of each book left me gasping. I’ve always enjoyed Geissinger’s books, but this series feels like what she should’ve been writing all along.

UPDATE: I guess I was right on the money with this, because this trilogy kicked off/inspired Geissinger’s wildly popular Beautifully Cruel and Queens & Monsters series. My love for her work has grown immensely in the last few years, with one of her books making my Top 20 list every year since. Find out more in my Spotlight on J.T. Geissinger here.

Blurb:

A beautiful fugitive. A hot bodyguard. A high-stakes game of temptation.

For Nasir, former Special Ops military man and bodyguard, his new job seems like an easy-money gig: trail a Russian mobster’s runaway wife in Mexico, enjoy the sun, observe, and report. Just one rule: don’t get too close. But it’s all Naz can do not to watch the alluring dancer’s every move. A closer look is irresistible—especially when she’s in trouble.

Evalina escaped to the island getaway to live an untraceable life—as far away from the past as she can get. But Eva can’t ignore the dark, muscled stud who rescues her from a drug gang. He says he’s an ex-cop on vacation. When providence throws them together time and again, Eva thinks it’s all a beautiful coincidence. Now she’s giving in to a strange new sensation: trust.

But Naz has a mission to accomplish and a secret to keep. Eva has her share of secrets, too. And as the heat flares between them, Naz knows that trust could become the most dangerous impulse of all.

Start with Dangerous Beauty on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2S5VMvs


Devious Lies by Parker S. Huntington

ORIGINAL: Intense and engrossing, this is an enemies to lovers romance in its purest form. This relationship is anything but easy, and it takes a while for our couple to find their way past their complicated history, but the journey is absolutely worth the wait. The longest book I read all year, it’s also one of the books I devoured the quickest. The writing is unique, flowing easily and immersing you in the story. If you love a good slow burn romance with so much tension your blood pressure will rise, give this one a try.

UPDATE: I still love Huntington’s work a lot! She has slowed down her release rate significantly, with only one new book in the three years since – and it made my Top 20 list last year! Check out the review here. I’d love more books from Huntington, but I’m willing to wait if this is the quality we get.

Blurb:

From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes an enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn romance full of revenge and a dash of fate.

“She could enjoy her pretty, perfect world a little longer. Soon enough, everything she owned would be mine.”

I had a plan to escape the friend zone.
Step one: sneak into Reed’s room.
Step two: sleep with him.

But when the lights turned on, it wasn’t familiar blue eyes I saw.
These were dark, angry, and full of demons.
And they belonged to Reed’s much older brother.

Four years later, Nash Prescott is no longer the help’s angry son.
I’m no longer the town’s prized princess.

At twenty-two, I’m broke, in need of a job.
At thirty-two, he’s a billionaire, in need of revenge.

Who cares if my family ruined his?
Who cares if he looks at me with pure loathing?
Who cares if every task he assigns me is designed to torture?

I need the money.
Simple as that.

I’ll suffer his cruelty in silence, knowing there’s one thing he wants more than revenge…
Me.

Note: Devious Lies is a standalone billionaire office romance. If you love banter and angst, this book is for you! Welcome to Eastridge. Enter if you dare.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3hK8lte


Diary of a Bad Boy by Meghan Quinn

ORIGINAL: I’m a longtime fan of Meghan Quinn, but Diary of a Bad Boy has got to be my favorite book by her. Our hero has to go through some major personal growth before he’s worthy of lasting love, and we’re taken for quite the ride along the way. If you love a bad boy who is hiding all of his goodness underneath a damaged heart, this is well worth a read. It seamlessly blends the humor Quinn is known for with an unexpected shot of angst, and the combination makes for one solid book.

UPDATE: Quinn is still writing fantastic books that pack an emotional punch AND keep me laughing, with several other new favorites releasing in the time since. She’s the kind of author who swings for the fences with every book, so I find that there’s a miss for every hit – but those hits are fantastic. The one that made my Top 20 of 2021 list is here, and probably my new favorite (so far).

Blurb:

From USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn comes a sassy and sweet romance about an Irish rebel who falls in love with the wrong girl. Full of witty banter and swoony moments, it’s the perfect romantic comedy to binge on.

Dear Diary,

I might have gotten myself into a wee bit of trouble—and I’m not talking about the “court mandated community service,” or “therapy sessions from bashing a bloke in the head” kind of trouble.

I wish it were that simple.

Nope. I’m talking about the “falling in love with one of my client’s daughters,” kind of trouble . . .
The kind of problem I can’t talk my way out of when the truth gets out.

How I ended up with her phone is a long story—and when she called to get it back, I took things a bit too far. One innocent exchange wound up leading to so much more.

Fun, new, and totally immune to my charm, Sutton is different. And I had no idea she was the daughter of Foster Green.

Blame it on the dark colored stout running through my veins, pushing me toward one bad decision after another. Pushing me toward her even though I know right from wrong; even though she’s my client’s daughter.

Dating her might be the best or worst decision I’ve ever made. Only time, whiskey, and one more roll around the mattress with her will tell.

Roark

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


Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

ORIGINAL: Keeland and Ward always draw you into a romance only to break your heart with an unexpected twist, and Dirty Letters is no different. It’s got a completely original storyline and a relationship that seems like it could never work, but the authors navigate the complexities with ease. This one is angsty as hell, emotionally charged, and deeply romantic. If you’re in the mood for something well written but oh so complex, give Dirty Letters a try.

UPDATE: This makes me want to dive back into a Keeland & Ward release! I’ve found them to be very inconsistent in the years since – they seem to have created a formula for success, and it does wear on you after awhile. But they’re immensely talented, so I should really check out another book soon.

Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes an unexpected love story that started with a boy and girl and heats up when the man and woman reconnect.

I’d never forgotten him—a man I’d yet to meet.

Griffin Quinn was my childhood pen pal, the British boy who couldn’t have been more different from me. Over the years, through hundreds of letters, we became best friends, sharing our deepest, darkest secrets and forming a connection I never thought could break.

Until one day it did.

Then, out of the blue, a new letter arrived. A scathing one—one with eight years of pent-up anger. I had no choice but to finally come clean as to why I stopped writing.

Griffin forgave me, and somehow we were able to rekindle our childhood connection. Only now we were adults, and that connection had grown to a spark. Our letters quickly went from fun to flirty to downright dirty, revealing our wildest fantasies. So it only made sense that we would take our relationship to the next level and see each other in person.

Only Griff didn’t want to meet. He asked that I trust him and said it was for the best. But I wanted more—more Griff, in the flesh—so I took a big chance and went looking for him. People have done crazier things for love.

But what I found could change everything.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Gmpbc2


Disarm by Karina Halle

ORIGINAL: After the first book in the series stumbled, I didn’t go into Disarm with high expectations, but it blew me away. The ultimate forbidden romance, this features adoptive cousins who have had feelings for each other for over a decade but have never made the leap to lovers. There’s no going back when you sleep with your cousin, but Halle navigates this forbidden romance perfectly. It’s a slow burn that has a significant element of suspense, and includes an insightful look at family dynamics. Halle turned this series around in a big way, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for this complicated family.

UPDATE: I’ve read some great books by Halle in the years since! She can be a little inconsistent and her style varies, but she knows how to write a compelling, tension-filled book. Her most recent releases have all been paranormal, but I’d love to check out more of her backlist as well.

Blurb:

Karina Halle, the New York Times bestselling author of Discretion, lifts the veil off a privileged family dynasty to reveal a wealth of secrets and dangerous obsessions.

Seraphine Dumont seems to have it all: she’s gorgeous, brilliant, and part of one of France’s most illustrious dynasties. But underneath the facade, Seraphine struggles to hold it all together. Besides grieving her adoptive father’s suspicious and sudden death, she also shares a tenuous role in the family business with Blaise, her in-name-only cousin. As tumultuous as their history is, he may be the only member of the deceptive Dumont family she can trust.

Seraphine is a temptation Blaise can’t resist. The torch he’s carried for years still burns. It’s his secret—a quiet obsession just out of reach. Until his brother demands that he spy on the increasingly cagey Seraphine, whom their father considers a dispensable Dumont outlier. But the more Blaise watches her and the closer he gets, the more he sees Seraphine may have every right to be suspicious. And she could be the next one in danger—from his own family.

As blood runs hot and hearts give in, Seraphine and Blaise have only each other. But can their love survive the secrets they’re about to uncover?

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3hR2qT2


Flirting with the Frenemy by Pippa Grant

ORIGINAL: One of the best romantic comedies I read in 2019, this has Pippa Grant’s signature style written all over it. I always enjoy her books but this one took that to another level. Not only is there playful banter, laugh out loud humor, and characters who are easy to like, but there’s also an element of angst and a relationship that’s encountered a few roadblocks. If you love a good best friend’s little sis read, this story has everything you could want in a romance.

UPDATE: This is the book that truly launched my love of Grant’s work. Prior to reading this, I had enjoyed a few of her rom coms and they were always great, but she hit her stride in the year or so that followed this release. Real Fake Love easily made my Top 20 of 2020 list (review here), and she’s delivered many other 5-star reads. I’m not loving her 2022 releases as much, but here’s hoping that we get some more great books in 2023.

Blurb:

He’s a hot single dad. A military man with abs of steel. My brother’s best friend. My biggest enemy. And now my fake date to my best friend’s wedding. Disasterville, here we come…

Mission: Survive my best friend’s wedding, where I must play nice with my ex and his perfect new girlfriend.

Strategy: Bring the hottest fake boyfriend on the planet.

Target: Grady Rock. Master Baker. Dimples. Muscles. The unicorn of fake boyfriends.

Complication: Wyatt Morgan. My brother’s best friend. My sworn enemy. Military man. Sexy as hell single dad. The man I let into my panties for one night of hot hate sex after my ex dumped me. 

And the man who just scared off that perfect fake boyfriend. 

By pretending to be my real boyfriend.

I can roll with this though. What’s the harm in Flirting with the Frenemy if it helps me get the job done?

Complete my mission and move on.

Or so I thought.

Until Wyatt kisses me again and I start feeling things I shouldn’t.

The thing about weddings…nothing ever goes as planned. 

Flirting with the Frenemy is a rollicking fun romantic comedy featuring a single dad military man, an irritatingly attractive blast from his past, pirates, cursing parrots, and a wedding gone wild. It stands alone with no cheating or cliffhangers.

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


Kickin’ It by Rachel Van Dyken

ORIGINAL: Van Dyken’s writing is consistently great, but sometimes she absolutely hits it out of the park, with taboo relationships that build up incredible depth. This is so much more than just a sports romance; it’s a story of healing, emotional and yet also filled with funny moments, playful banter, and witty dialogue. The hero is the epitome of a good guy, pairing well with a heroine who has been through a lot in the last few years. If you like a patient, kind, genuinely GOOD hero, this is the book for you.

UPDATE: Interestingly enough, there were TWO books by Van Dyken on this list… but I haven’t reviewed anything by her in what feels like forever! She shifted gears shortly after this, and her mafia romances are just too intense for my personal taste. I would love to dig back in to one of her books, so we’ll see what she releases in 2023.

Blurb:

Love breaks the offside rule in New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken’s irresistibly sexy Red Card romance.

Successful, high-profile sports agent Matt Kingston thinks he can handle anything. Then soccer player Parker Speedman shows up at his door. She is young and gorgeous, has natural talent, and is looking for a team. She’s also a hothead with a punchy past who floored her last coach on live TV. Despite his misgivings, Matt agrees to be both her agent and her coach. Professional common sense says she’s off-limits. But what can he say about the raw attraction between them?

Parker plays soccer with her heart and soul. But after the events of the last year, she’s shaken. She’s already seen what a powerful man can do to a female athlete’s career. And her beloved dream is in the hands of a sexy, gorgeous man with the uncanny ability to slip past her defenses…and into her heart.

Now Matt and Parker are about to learn that when it comes to love, the only way to win is by breaking every rule they know. And by playing nice. Real nice.

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


Marriage For One by Ella Maise

ORIGINAL: This book was so unexpected, it blew me away. I’ve always enjoyed Maise’s writing but this is a FANTASTIC book. I’ll acknowledge that it’s the kind of book you’re either going to love or hate, because it goes into such depth about day-to-day activities. It’s all in the name of the slow burn – these two essentially start out as married strangers, getting to know one another and sloooowly building a relationship. Our hero is not the easiest guy to like, and the slow build does an outstanding job making the reader fall for him along with the heroine. It’s incredibly unique and managed to hold my attention with ease even throughout a plot that probably would’ve felt boring when written by any other author. I loved, loved, loved this one.

UPDATE: Maise hasn’t released a new book since this one hit it big, and that is a travesty! Marriage for One has been very influential in the style of current swoony, beefy releases, and I still think back on it fondly. She has been working on her next book for quite awhile, so I do periodically check her out on IG to make sure I haven’t missed any updates. Hopefully the new book will come out in 2023, it does seem to be progressing.

Blurb:

Jack and I, we did everything backward. The day he lured me into his office-which was also the first day we met-he proposed. You’d think a guy who looked like him-a bit cold maybe, but still striking and very unattainable-would only ask the love of his life to marry him, right? You’d think he must be madly in love.

Nope. It was me he asked. A complete stranger who had never even heard of him. A stranger who had been dumped by her fiancé only weeks before. You’d think I’d laugh in his face, call him insane-and a few other names-then walk away as quickly as possible. Well…I did all those things except the walking away part.

It took him only minutes to talk me into a business deal…erm, I mean marriage, and only days for us to officially tie the knot. Happiest day of my life. Magical. Pop the champagne… Not. It was the worst day. Jack Hawthorne was nothing like what I’d imagined for myself.
I blamed him for my lapse in judgment. I blamed his eyes, the ocean blue eyes that looked straight into mine unapologetically, and that frown on his face I had no idea I would become so fascinated with in time.

It wasn’t long after he said I was the biggest mistake of his life that things started to change. No, he still didn’t talk much, but anyone can string a few words together. His actions spoke the loudest to me. And day after day my heart started to get a mind of its own.

One second he was no one. The next he became everything.
One second he was unattainable. The next he seemed to be completely mine.
One second I thought we were in love. The next it was still nothing but a lie.

After all, I was Rose and he was Jack. We were doomed from the very beginning with those names. Did you expect anything else?

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gdi4b5


Million Dollar Marriage by Katy Evans

ORIGINAL: This was my introduction to Katy Evans but it will DEFINITELY not be the last book I read from her. An insightful and engrossing look at the lengths reality TV contestants will go through in the name of the win, this pairs up two total opposites who must marry as strangers then complete a series of challenges. With a hero who is a little rough around the edges, some great writing that’s heavy on the dialogue, and an original plot, I devoured this.

UPDATE: Evans hasn’t released much since this book came out, but seeing this post has me wanting to dig into her backlist! I’m a sucker for a reality show romance, so this was such a great read for me.

Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Katy Evans comes a hot romance about two strangers and their race to fall in love.

If someone had bet Nell a million dollars that she would be saying “I do” to a complete stranger on national television, she’d have called them crazy, but with her crushing student loan payments sending her deep into the red, she’s out of options. This should be nothing more than a business transaction—until she sets eyes on her groom, and everything changes.

The game is on the instant Luke spots Penelope “Nell” Carpenter. He’s out for the money, yes, but getting a little dirty with Nell doesn’t sound too bad either. Everyone knows he’s not the marrying kind, so it’s a good thing it’s just for show. God knows he’s the worst guy his pretty wife should pick for real.

They have nothing in common, but if they want the grand prize, they’ll have to beat out eight other couples. Proving that total opposites attract should be easy enough…as long as they don’t fall in love in the process.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3EE6mjj


(Not) The One by Donna Alam

ORIGINAL: With sizzling chemistry and a story that leads with the sexual side of things, this book will get your heart racing before it slowly gets deeper and more serious. When a one night stand leaves some lasting effects, the dynamics shift and the whole tone of the book changes. It will take you through a whole range of emotions, and is just as gripping when it’s light and sexy as it is when it’s heavy and emotional. This is my first read by Alam but I won’t hesitate to pick up more of her books in the future.

UPDATE: I still remember the fantastic chemistry at the start of this book, and it was such an interesting, different read. Alam hasn’t won me over in the same way since, but I would definitely be willing to dive back in to her work if the right book releases.

Blurb:

Three reasons why rebound s-e-x with my hot neighbor is a very bad idea.

1.My life is already complicated enough
2.He knows I wear Batman undies (please don’t ask)
3.He’s older, sophisticated, and so hot he makes me weak at the knees

I know that’s more than three. But it still didn’t stop me.

On paper, we’re the worst kind of match.
He’s rich.
I’m . . . not. My second job is pet sitting!
He says we’re friends.
I say barely, but I do love those benefits . . .
The man rocks my world,
But he’s so not the one.
Which is unfortunate,
Because he is the the one who got me pregnant.

Disclaimer: This is not (just) a story about accidental pregnancy. It’s a story about accidental love.

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


Renata Vitali & Damiano De Luca 
by Parker S. Huntington

ORIGINAL: The love story that hooked me on Huntington’s writing, we get to know this couple as teenagers in the prequel then watch as they’re reunited during adulthood. Though you can read (and enjoy) Damiano De Luca as a standalone, getting to know the history makes the story richer and fuller. A mafia romance, this has some darker elements but doesn’t linger on the violence that’s inherent in the genre. Instead, the focus is on the tension and undeniable connection between two people who were never meant to be together according to those around them. If you like a good second chance romance, read Renata Vitali to have your heart ripped out, and then Damiano De Luca to have it stitched back together.

UPDATE: These days, I try not to put the same author on my Top 20 list twice… but this list proves that sometimes there’s a very good reason to! I loved this duet almost as much as Devious Lies, and I hope Huntington gets back to the series at some point. This love story will easily read as a standalone though, the series follows different mafia families in the same universe.

Blurb:

From USA Today bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes a steamy, slow-burn love story full of enemies-to-lovers banter, set in high school.

Damiano De Luca: a curse with no cure.

Before he ruled the De Luca family,
before he became the man everyone feared,
before he scoured an empire in search of me,
he chose me to ruin.

I was innocent.
An untainted princess.
The heiress to the Vitali mafia throne.

And I was in the wrong place at the wrong time when I met the wrong boy.

My name is Renata Vitali…
And this is not a love story.

Warning: This story ends in a cliffhanger. Renata Vitali is a ~35,000-word prequel novella in The Five Syndicates mafia romance series. It can be read before Damiano De Luca but does not need to be.

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


Resist & Reveal by K. Bromberg

ORIGINAL: If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that one of my absolute favorite love stories would feature a madam and one of her clients, I would not have believed you. In theory, this is so not my type of romance but Bromberg does an incredible job portraying two characters whose actions aren’t always black and white. This near-flawless duet held my attention from start to finish and I was SO FRUSTRATED when I had to wait for Reveal’s release (lucky you, you won’t have that problem). If you’re up for a complex, sexy, and intense rollercoaster of a read, don’t hesitate to try this duet.

UPDATE: This duet was my first experience with Bromberg’s writing, and she’s delivered SEVERAL 5-star reads for me since! In fact, she’s had books on both of my Best of the Year lists following this one, though I do still think this duet might be my personal favorite – it’s a close call.

Blurb:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Driven series comes a powerful romance about reaching great heights through low depths.

Who says you have to play by the rules to get what you want?

Agreeing to meet Ryker Lockhart is my first mistake. Rich, handsome, and more than intriguing, he thinks blackmail will bend me to his will.

But he’s wrong.

I may have done a few things that weren’t exactly legal, but I have my own reasons for that. The last thing I’m going to do is let some high-powered divorce attorney come into my life, have my body, and rule my heart. Not to mention ruin everything that I have carefully built in just a short amount of time.

But as much as I try to resist him, and against my better judgment, there is something about him that has me agreeing to his proposal.

I’m putting everything on the line for him. I just hope I won’t lose everything when this is all over.

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


So, That Got Weird by Amelia Kingston

ORIGINAL: I like New Adult romances as much as the next girl, but I was woefully unprepared for how much I was going to love this book. On the surface, the premise seems pretty typical of the genre (shy, nerdy girl gets sex tutoring from the hot jock), but once you dig deeper there is a whole lot more to love about the story. It’s undeniably sexy and sensual, but the relationship itself builds to outstanding depths. I was hooked from the start and eagerly anticipate whatever the author writes next.

UPDATE: I don’t read a lot of new adult romance these days, but this remains one of my favorites. It’s got a premise that’s not far from the usual, but Kingston does it very well.

Blurb:

A painfully awkward love story.

Incomprehensibly awkward Elizabeth Wilde is desperate for love. Connection. Intimacy. After a lifetime of romantic failures, the twenty-one-year-old gamer realizes she needs help. Professional help. She needs…

A sex tutor.

The devastatingly hot jock Austin Jacobs is just the man for the job. As the reigning campus sex god, he has the playboy act down pat. But underneath those six-pack abs beats a broken heart. He doesn’t trust people and he sure as hell doesn’t believe in love.

The odd couple strike a deal. Four weeks of ‘tutoring’ for five thousand dollars.

When Austin coaxes Elizabeth out from behind her computer screen, the attraction they feel is undeniable. They’re both a little broken, but somehow their jagged edges fit. And when their world comes tumbling down on top of them, they each have to decide if this weird thing called love is worth fighting for.

Reader advisory: This book includes references to inadequate parenting, parental death, a parent with addiction. There are also scenes including the use of performance drugs.

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


Stealing Her by Rachel Van Dyken

ORIGINAL: Normally I love Rachel Van Dyken’s books, but the premise on this one seemed so ludicrous that the ARC sat in my TBR pile for weeks and weeks before I finally started reading it before bed one night. And that proved to be a major miscalculation on my part, because it is easily one of my favorite books of the year. Yes, the relationship is twisty and the premise pretty far-fetched (a twin assuming his brother’s life – including living with his fiancée – while he recovers from a coma) but the execution is so well done that it was ridiculously easy to get immersed in the story. If you love a good taboo romance, move this one to the top of your TBR.

UPDATE: I think this remains my all-time favorite from Van Dyken – it’s just twisty and complicated, with a storyline that shouldn’t work but really does. There’s a reason why two of her books made this list!

Amazon | GoodReads


Tangle by Adriana Locke

ORIGINAL: Adriana Locke really outdid herself with this one – the chemistry was palpable and the banter smile-inducing. The premise of the book is that these two are attracted in a major way but know that a relationship would never work because of the fundamental differences between them. What does that mean? It means that the struggle has to be worth it, and the connection between these two jumps off the page. It’s both a light, fun rom com and an angsty, emotional read. So, so good.

UPDATE: I actually don’t think I’ve read another book from Locke that I liked as much as this one in the years since, though she’s delivered several very solid reads. This just had stellar sexual tension and a lighthearted yet angsty feel that worked in a big way.

Blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an unexpected love story of family, secrets, and the most intimate of deceptions.

My estranged twin brother, Julian, was always the wonder boy—and was groomed to become CEO of our ruthless father’s corporation. My mother and me? Left behind. Now, years after tearing our family apart, my father dares to ask me for a favor? Pretend to be Julian while he fights to survive a tragic accident. It can save the company. Nobody will be the wiser. It’ll be our secret.

I can play Dad’s favorite. I’ll do it for Julian. And for my mother, who’ll want for nothing.

But this double life comes with a beauty of a hitch: my very real feelings for Julian’s fiancée, Isobel. Not only am I betraying Julian, I’m deceiving a woman I love. She doesn’t suspect a thing. As lies compound, lines are crossed and loyalties tested, all I can ask myself is…What have I done?

Because sooner or later something’s got to give. There’s no way I’m giving up Isobel. But once the truth is exposed, it might not be my choice at all.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3tzyY6N


The Men Write in the Sugar by K.S. Thomas

ORIGINAL: I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of K.S. Thomas before, and neither had I when I started reading this book. That’s probably why the quality of the writing caught me completely off guard and drew me in. It’s a clean read with no explicit scenes, focusing instead on building up the relationship. Forced closeness causes these two strangers to connect when they otherwise wouldn’t have, and the journey is light but still heartfelt. It features plenty of banter and the chemistry sparks along the way.

UPDATE: I read a few other books by Thomas shortly after this one, and they were pretty good, but could not recreate the love I had for this one at the time. I haven’t revisited Thomas’ work recently, it might be time to check in and see how much it’s grown over the years!

Blurb:

MILA ANDREWS has one goal. Keep the peace with bridezilla until Sunday.

The wedding will be over. Her maid of honor duties will be complete, and her family drama will finally be a thing of the past. She’ll board a plane, leave Hawaii, and life will be back to normal.

Sunday. Seven days. In Paradise. How hard could it be?

KEATON PHILLIPS has one goal. Convince the groom to end things by Saturday.

The wedding will be off. His best man duties will be complete, and the wrong he committed years before, will finally be made right. He’ll board a plane, leave Hawaii, and life will be back to normal.
Saturday. Six days. To break up a wedding. How hard could it be?

A best man out to destroy the wedding and a maid of honor determined to see the bride through to happy ever after make for an unlikely pair. But that doesn’t stop Mila and Keaton from joining forces – even if it means only one can succeed in their mission before the weekend is over.

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


The Stopover by T.L. Swan

ORIGINAL: With a hero who will make you swoon one minute and want to knee him in the balls the next, this steamy and intense read will kick your emotions into overdrive. My review talks about how this book kind of gutted me, and months later I still think that’s an apt description. There were times when I was loving it and other times when I wanted to throw my tablet against a wall, but I was hooked on this romance every step of the way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, because this book will raise your blood pressure.

UPDATE: This was my first experience with Swan’s work, and I’ve had a love-hate relationship with her writing ever since. Nothing has come close to the love I have for The Stopover, but Swan continues to get more and more popular. I find her writing to be toxic but extremely compelling, and hopefully there will be another one that hits the same way as this soon.

Blurb:

A memorable night of passion refuses to stay just a memory in this sizzling and scandalous romance from bestselling author T L Swan.

I was upgraded to first class on a flight from London to New York.

The food, champagne, and service were impeccable. 

The blue-eyed man sitting next to me, even better. 

He was suave and intelligent. 

We talked and laughed, and something clicked. 

Fate took over and the plane was grounded, and we had an unexpected stopover for the night.

With no plans, we made our own. 

We danced and laughed our way around Boston and had a night of crazy passion that no woman would ever forget. 

That was twelve months ago, and I haven’t heard from him—until today. 

I started a new job and met the CEO. You can imagine my surprise to see those naughty blue eyes dance with delight when he saw me across the mahogany desk. 

But I’m not that carefree girl anymore. My life has changed, I have responsibilities. 

I just got an email. 

He wants to see me in his office for a private meeting at 8:00 a.m. 

Naughty blue eyes have no place in the workplace. 

What kind of private meeting does he have in mind?

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3g8ylOB


We Shouldn’t by Vi Keeland

ORIGINAL: I don’t think Vi Keeland could write a bad book if she tried, but this is one of my absolute favorites from her. A story about two people whose places of employment have merged, they’re vying for the same job and know without a doubt that one of them is going to be disappointed with how things play out in the end. They definitely shouldn’t be starting something up, they definitely shouldn’t be falling in love. But that doesn’t stop it from happening. It’s an angsty, often emotional read that will grip you and keep those pages turning.

UPDATE: Another repeat appearance! I’ve read several solid books by Keeland in the years since, and I might be due to check out another one soon. This remains my favorite though.

Blurb:

From #1 New York Times Bestseller Vi Keeland, comes a new, sexy standalone novel.

Bennett Fox walked into my life on one hell of a crappy Monday morning.

I was late for the first day at my new job—a job I’d now have to compete for even though I’d already worked eight years to earn it, because of an unexpected merger.

While I lugged my belongings up to my new office, a meter maid wrote me a parking summons.

She’d ticketed a long line of cars—except for the Audi parked in front of me, which happened to be the same make and model as mine.

Annoyed, I decided to regift my ticket to the car that had evaded a fine. Chances were, the owner would pay it and be none the wiser.

Except, I accidentally broke the windshield wiper while slipping the ticket onto the car’s window.

Seriously, my day couldn’t get any worse.

Things started to perk up when I ran into a gorgeous man in the elevator. We had one of those brief moments that only happened in movies.

You know the deal…your body lights up, fireworks go off, and the air around you crackles with electricity.

His heated stare left me flushed when I stepped off the elevator.

Maybe things here wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Or so I thought.

Until I walked into my new boss’s office and met my competition.

The gorgeous man from the elevator was now my nemesis. His heated stare wasn’t because of any mutual attraction. It was because he’d seen me vandalize his car. And now he couldn’t wait to annihilate his rival.

There’s a fine line between love and hate—and we shouldn’t cross it.

We shouldn’t—but straddling that line could be so much fun.

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


You Can Have Manhattan by P. Dangelico

ORIGINAL: Honestly, every book I’ve read by P. Dangelico has been 5-star worthy, but this is one of the best she’s written. A fake relationship romance that plays out in a way that’s easy to believe, this has an enemies to lovers vibe that just works. I loved the spin on the playboy trope – yeah, our hero was a bit of tool when the heroine knew him in the past, but things have changed in the last several years, and they have to get to know each other in a completely different way. It’s a rocky road to happily ever after, but that makes for a conclusion that’s well earned.

UPDATE: Another slow writer, Dangelico doesn’t release books often, but they usually work well for me when she does! There’s something about her writing style that is so bingeable for me, and this remains one of my favorites from her.

Blurb:

You are cordially invited to the worst wedding of the century.

Sydney Evans is no stranger to hard work. It’s the one constant in her life. And with no family or friends to speak of it’s been easy to pour everything she has into her career as general counsel for Blackstone Holdings. 

She wants for nothing. Until her boss offers her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. All she has to do in return is marry his good-for-nothing son.

Scott Blackstone used be a party whore. Pardon, party animal. He hasn’t been that guy in a long time though. Not since he moved to Wyoming, bought a failing cattle ranch, and turned it into a profitable business. 

All is good. Until a phone call from his father threatens the quiet, simple life he’s built. Marry or lose everything. And to a woman who can’t stand him, no less. Well, Scott is not going down without a fight. He’s never going back to Manhattan. Not if he can help it.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3g6Yg9t


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