I Heart Hollywood by Lindsey Kelk

Content warnings: outing ultimatums, gay closeting

I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the first in the series, I felt like some of the characters were slightly off. Kelk’s writing was as humorous as ever, but something wasn’t quite right.

The title being I Heart Hollywood when Angela absolutely hated it was wildly confusing. I felt like because Angela just felt so awkward and uncomfortable and sad the entire time she was there diminished my enjoyment.

The biggest problem I had with this book was that a character is gay and in the closet, and Angela finds out and (I can’t quite remember it exactly as I read this a while ago) but there was some kind of ultimatum/forced outing kind of plot to it. I realise that this may be seen as a spoiler but stuff like this shouldn’t be as it’s something that can be harmful and we should be aware of this. I hope that Kelk is aware that this is something that isn’t ok, but this book was written some time ago so I’m not super angry about it. But I did not like it. And I feel a little less positively about the series. I do however still want to continue it.

I really felt for Alex in this novel as he was just in New York whilst his girlfriend was off on some work thing falling apart and being a general nuisance. I hope the next book has more Alex because I really like his character.

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I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk

Now as I’ve been away I’ve kind of fallen out of my way of reviewing so I apologise if it’s a bit clunky. I also read this way back in September so my memories are a bit hazy but I’m going to try.

CW for: cheating, slut shaming.

After Angela finds her boyfriend of X amount of years having sex with another woman at her best friends wedding, and they all knew about it, she makes a last minute decision and flies across the pond to New York. She has no return flight and limited funds but she ends up really finding her feet and a new best friend. And her love life is heating up too.

I love Lindsey Kelk’s writing. She’s so funny and her characters’ voices are always just so real for me. This is Jess’ favourite book so I’ve always had my eye on it and I finally got it from the library and whilst it wasn’t perfect I did really enjoy reading it.

In regards the slut shaming it’s not great. There’s often mentions of sleeping around not being great and that it’s something to be judged for but there’s also some really sex positive scenes. However, as much as I felt uncomfortable reading the slut shaming, I tried to remember that this came out in 2008 and SO much has changed with people’s attitudes to sex especially with the mainstreaming of hook up apps.

Now because I went to a signing I already knew who the end game was out of the semi love triangle that there was in this book. But I don’t think that ruined it for me because reading it you could just tell from Kelk’s tone who she wanted her character to be with.

It may read to you as questionable what the main character does in this book after having her heart broken by someone cheating on her but it happens in real life. You get treated like an idiot by a man who completely betrays you so you just want to get back at all man kind and date a couple guys at once. Obviously it’s not the best thing to do. But it’s understandable.

This kind of book is perfect for when you want a light read to just take your mind off of everything and I love that sometimes as I have a lot of stress in my life. Eventually I’ll get around to reading the whole series.

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The Lady of Royale Street by Thea De Salle – Everyone is back for a reprise but main romance is less than I hoped

Rain and Sol from The King of Bourbon Street are getting married (oops spoilers), and everyone is flying in to be there for the special day, but a week before the wedding the wedding planner dies after leaking all the wedding information. So income Theresa, Rain’s best friend, and Alex, Sol’s brother, to save the day, and maybe develop some feelings along the way.

I’ll be honest, this is my least favourite of the series so far. I wasn’t drawn to either of the characters and I didn’t find their relationship particularly compelling. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not as good as the previous two.

TW for ableism. There was a few parts where Theresa is described as being “crazy” or a “lunatic” which just felt really unnecessary. Other words could’ve been used.

What really helped this book for me was because it focuses around Rain and Sol’s wedding we get to see all the previous characters, whom I adore. We got to see my faves get married and continue to be absolutely wild.

Like I said in my Sanctuary review I’m super sensitive to Scottish descended characters and Theresa was the opposite of what I like in Scottish characters. She just felt super cringey to me, and it felt like the author was just putting it in there constantly. And she used the wrong form of whiskey.

It was just as easy to read as the previous novels from it’s style and you can definitely get through it in one sitting if you’re so inclined. And whilst I definitely had my qualms with this one I still enjoyed it.

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Rebekah Weatherspoon Round Up

Over the past few months I’ve gone on a bit of a Rebekah Weatherspoon marathon, I’ve not read all her books but I’ve read a lot of them and I don’t have enough to say about them all to make a post each so I thought I’d put them all into one. I fell in love with Rebekah’s writing style after reading Haven which was recommended to me by like everyone on twitter. I really love how she brings light bdsm into the plot without it being like super hardcore. And as a black woman she always has good racial representation as well.

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Fit

This book honestly made me slightly uncomfortable at times with the relationship being someone in a position of power, but it wasn’t a huge thing. But I did love the idea of some of the sex scenes in this.

 

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Treasure

I really liked this one. It featured a wlw relationship with a stripper. And I am all about books that portray sex work in a good light. It dealt with outward and inward judgement about both being in an f/f relationship and being with a stripper. Trisha was so unapologetic about herself and her job and I absolutely adored her.

So Sweet and So Right

I haven’t finished this series yet but I don’t know if I will because I’m just not sure if I can be bothered because So Right didn’t really bring anything new to the table for me. However I did really like So Sweet. It was like Sugar Daddy by Sawyer Bennett without the weird murder-y undertone. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t not like So Right but it just was kind of a bit plot-less but hey I’ll probably read the final book just for a light read at some point.

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The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea De Salle

So this book follows side characters from The King of Bourbon Street, like most romance series seem to do. Maddy is crazy rich, richer than you could imagine but she has a messy past. Darren is a typical Texas boy and is best friends with Maddy’s exes brother but an ex makes an attempt on his life and Maddy is there to save the day and take him away to New Orleans on her boat to protect him.

Whilst I loved Maddy this book did feel like a bit of a downgrade from the first book. But maybe I just loved Sol and Rain so much that anything would feel like that.

It did kind of feel a bit off the wall at times for honest. It was fun but because it’s based around Maddy who leads a ridiculous life things would happen that just don’t actually happen so though this is a contemporary you have to suspend your belief at times.

A lot of this book takes place in New Orleans, of course, so it made me really happy to read about Sol and Rain as their relationship was a little bit further on in time.

The most important thing for me in this book was Maddy. Though she was a bit wacky she was so unapologetic in her sexuality. She was bi, and she never hid it. Whenever speaking about past experiences she never glossed over her sleeping with men and women and she didn’t downplay it. And though I am not bi, pan and bi kind of go along in the same boat in terms of representation in media or lack thereof. So Maddy was a really important character for me.

There are possible triggers in this book for stalking and guns so if that’s something that could set you off be careful with this book.

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Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Thank you to netgalley and for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you want a steamy summer read with some characters who aren’t your typical romance book types then this is the book for you. Our two main characters are a chubby Grenadian American woman and a bearded mountain man and their chemistry is just so good.

The book kicks off with our MCs meeting when Claudia is on a camping weekend with her brother and her brother gets murdered by a serial killer and Claudia is running away from the same fate and finds Shep who rescues her from the murderer. When Claudia tries to get back to her real life after the horrible events she can’t stop thinking about Shep.

Now obviously based on that synopsis you can tell that there are some triggers with this book. Claudia’s brother is murdered and Claudia herself nearly meets the same fate and is attacked so whilst it isn’t gone into too much detail, if you are triggered by these kind of things I would be weary, especially as it is continuously mentioned throughout the novel as Claudia is still dealing with the trauma. BUT the way the author dealt with that trauma throughout the book was really respectful I thought, and I felt like the way she wrote how Claudia dealt with the grief and trauma was really real and believable.

The erotic parts of this novel, which there were a lot, were so steamy. I had to make sure I read this book when I was in bed as I knew if I read it in public I would get very uncomfortable. There was some exhibitionist aspects in this book which I haven’t read much of in erotica and my god it got me a bit hot and bothered. There’s also a lot of bdsm parts of their relationship, which from what I’ve read Rebekah Weatherspoon includes of lot of her books, which were really good to read, as I find bdsm in books can be really awkward if the writer doesn’t know what they’re doing.

I loved the characters in this book, I need to get myself a Shep because they way I imagined him was just so perfect. And Claudia was just such a good person to read the POV of, I felt like she made a lot of decisions that I would.

So, yeah, get this book because god damn it’s so hot.

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Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Our MC is on the verge of divorce from her husband after he gets to the end of his tether with her putting her job before family and so he goes to visit his family for Christmas leaving her there. She finds a phone that magically allows her to speak to her husband in the past before they were married with kids and this helps her think about where she wants her life to go.

I felt like I couldn’t really relate to the characters because I’ve never been married and they were much older than me. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but at times it felt like I didn’t really get their motives because I’ve never been in any situations like it.

I absolutely adored the idea of this one phone being a gateway into your past. And that whilst in the past it was him who had made a mess and was thinking about what he wanted from the relationship, in the present she was trying to work through her own feelings and how she’d made every thing fall apart. It was like a really nice magical way of having someone think about why they got together with their significant other in the first place.

I did have a few problems with the discourse in this book because at times it did feel like the husband was mad at her for wanting to excel in her job. I completely understand that he wanted her to be around more for the kids because that’s important but it did feel like he was giving her an ultimatum. Like you either need to stop being so involved in work or I leave you. Like why couldn’t he just tell her she really needs to balance everything better. I would’ve liked to get to know present husband more than we did because to me he came off as a bit of a chauvinist compared to the past version of himself who read like an absolute sweetheart. There was a bit of a disjoint.

As with all previous Rowell books I’ve read the writing style was really easy to follow and I read this pretty quickly. Though at times I did find it a little on the slow side.

Overall I feel like the idea was really interesting and the execution was ok for the most part but it could’ve done with a bit more fleshing out in some areas and less in others.

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From the Stars by C.S. Wilde

I was sent this novel by the author in an exchange for an honest review, so thank you C.S.Wilde!

James falls in love with this girl he works with at his office job, Miriam. They start to hang out then she tells him her secret: she’s an alien. Things begin to become complicated between them

I’ll be completely honest and say that this book wasn’t my cup of tea, there was a bit too much romance and not enough sci-fi for me, but that’s just me.

One thing I liked was that the aliens had both human and their alien names, I often find with sci-fi books that they’re either given human names, which isn’t really realistic or they have just alien names and you can’t pronounce it to save yourself.

The book shows a lot of potential, it was fast paced and engaging. I just found it hard to believe at times. I liked James, he was a character that I understood. He was happy to just be friends with Miriam if that’s what needed to happen. Whereas I found myself getting annoyed by Miriam a lot, she felt less like an alien and more like a self-aware robot sometimes.

I would also say it felt quite short, the book itself is short but it could have been fleshed out in places and though the pacing was fast I feel like some of the speed could’ve been sacrificed to add more to immersion and connection with the characters.

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Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Thank you to netgalley and Penguin/Michael Joseph for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I would say this was better than the first book. I could definitely tell that Giovanna’s writing has gotten better. Again, this was an easy read and I liked it for the most part, as with the previous book. However it did fall a bit flat compare to other British “chick lit” writers.

I found the characters still a bit annoying. Sophie was so insecure at times that I wanted to jump into the pages and shake her. I couldn’t imagine being in a relationship with her because you wouldn’t be able to do anything without her worrying that you were going to sleep with someone else. Billy was a lot better in this, he didn’t make any stupid decisions like he did in the previous novel.

I liked getting to see more of the Hollywood side of Billy, it kind of felt like that didn’t exist in the first novel. I liked getting to see his life there and his family. Overall I’d say the characters felt a lot more adult in this novel, they actually tried to work through their problems instead of just shoving them under the carpet.

I’ll be honest, if you’ve followed me for a while you’d know that I schedule everything and have a huge backlog of reviews, so I read this in December and I’m writing this in February, it wasn’t very memorable as I’m struggling for words. It wasn’t a terrible book by any means, and the writing was good, it just didn’t feel like anything new. That’s not a problem really, it’s just not what I’m after.

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The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon

Someone I work with absolutely adores Paige Toon’s books so I thought I would give her a try.

In short 3 sisters fall for the same guy but it’s more than that.

So basically the writing was really easy to read and it was fairly quick to get through and I will read more Paige Toon stuff in future. It’s not as funny as other British romance novelists I like, but it’s not just romance made to make you cry so it was ok for me.

I found all 3 of the sisters really just not great. I didn’t mind reading them but as I was going along all I could think was “these are terrible people”. Eliza was probably my favourite of the 3 because she was pining for Angus for years and didn’t try to do anything to break up Angus and Phoebe, all she wanted was to live her life the way she wanted and not have to go into a career she didn’t want to be in. Whereas Phoebe came too close to cheating which is never ok. And I don’t want to even talk about Rose reading Eliza’s bloody diary, and how she was obsessed with Angus and thought that meant she could nose her way into things that weren’t her business.

There is a time jump about a quarter of the way through, after Phoebe dies, which isn’t much of a spoiler as it happens quite soon after the beginning. I found the time jump really jarring, you get used to the past and getting to know what was happening just before the death and then suddenly it’s a few years later and I had no idea what was going on.

I knew who was going to be endgame probably from the beginning, it was pretty obvious but it was still good to see their relationship blossoming. And there was some good conflict that didn’t seem thrown in there just to elongate the book, which I find a lot of romance novels suffer from.

Some people may find it a bit silly that 3 girls fall for the same guy and the guy has involvement with all 3 of them but hey sometimes that happens, life can be awkward like that.

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