Spring Reading Faves

Here in South Texas, Spring is a mixture of cool breezes out of nowhere, the occasional thunder storm which causes people to forget how to drive a motor vehicle and days that feel like it’s mid August already. Despite that I wanted to squeeze the most out of this Spring because I won’t get a redo and I wanted my reading to reflect that. I had a few duds but overall this Spring, reading wise was great. Here are my favorites:

spring reading faves

I loved Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole, so much!

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Can’t Escape Love is Reggie and Gus’s romance and I adored it. I rated it 5/5 stars and would’ve gave it 100 stars if I could. Reggie is a woman of color. She is a blogger. She is a self-proclaimed nerd. She does all of the incredible things while living in a wheel chair. She was a subscriber to Gus’s youtube channel before he stopped making videos, and his voice is the only thing that helped with her insomnia. She tracks him down and basically they come to agreement of if Gus helps her, then Reggie will help him with a project he has going on.  The representation in this book felt so natural and real. It didn’t feel overdone or like the author was trying too hard. I don’t know how Alyssa Cole does it, but this was perfection.

My next fave should come as no surprise because it is basically still all over the place. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren.

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The Unhoneymooners is Olive and Ethan’s enemies to lovers romance. Long story short, Olive and Ethan end up taking Olive’s sister and Ethan’s brothers honeymoon and find themselves in situations where they have to fake a marriage. Every single thing that could possibly go wrong with the scenario of a fake marriage, happens for these two. I loved the banter between the two. Olive’s family is hilarious. There is some total screwball stuff going on behind the scenes. It was just so good!

My last but not least fave was The Imperfect Match by Melanie Harlow and Corinne Michaels.

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Oh Willow and Reid! The Imperfect Match reminded me of how good a friends to lovers romance can be. I loved this book and to be honest, it frustrated the heck out of me at times. Reid is absolutely smitten with Willow yet I understood why she was hesitant with taking their friendship to the next level. It was funny. It was sexy. It made me swoon. I adored it and highly recommend checking out the audiobook if you can!

Okay, I’d like to do 2 honorary mentions. These are two books that aren’t romances but I read them and loved. Both of these I rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

First is With The Fire on High by the force that is Elizabeth Acevedo.

fire

Go go go read this book! It is a very quick read, especially If you snag the audiobook. It is told in short little vignettes that lead up to the ending. It works. This is Emoni’s story. She is a mixed race, aspiring chef, teenage Mom who lives in Philadelphia with her Puerto Rican grandmother. Emoni is the heroine I’d recommend to any young girl looking for a bad ass heroine to read. I liked her cool, casualness. She had goals and fought for them against the odds.

And my second honorary mention is The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart.

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Coyote’s story is a middle grade novel about her and her Dad, Rodeo. They live in an old school bus and just drive across the country. Coyote speaks to her Grandmother one day and learns that a park she used to frequenters with her Mom and sisters is being torn down and turned into something else. She concocts this plan to get her dad to drive her back home and they meet this cool cast of characters along the way. I loved this book so much. I loved Coyote. She reminded me of being a young girl and believing in the goodness in people. Kindness, she was kind to everyone she met and I liked how this book showcased grief, how some choose to deal with it and that effects that the way they choose to deal with it may have on someone else. So so good! Go to your library and haul it if you can! I listened to the audiobook and it was fantastic!

 

What was your favorite read this spring? let me know. until next time, take care of yourselves.

xo.

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Thoughts While Reading: Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

May 25, 2019, 7:35 pm

Okay so Can’t Escape Love is the third book that I’ve read from Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series. We won’t get into why I am reading this series book out of orders, but I still have book two and the newest release to read.

According to my Kindle, I am currently 57% of the way and being that I’ve reached the halfway point, I wanted to do a check in and share what I think so far of the book and then share final thoughts once I’ve finished.

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I want to be best friends with Reggie, our heroine in this book. Reggie just screams black girl magic to me. She is comfortable in her own skin. She rocks beautiful curls. She is a blogger, running a website. She is a complete nerd, and I just love her. Reggie has worked her butt off with her blog and has been recently been suffering from insomnia. The only thing that used to help is watching this guy Gus’s live streams of him doing puzzles and hearing his voice.

Reggie hits him up basically like, “I’ll pay you to record yourself talking so I can get some sleep.” Gus learns that Reggie is very knowledgeable about this tv show that he has to speak about, write about so he’s like “you watch the show with me, help me become knowledgeable of it and I’ll record myself for free.” (not in those words, but basically–you help me, I’ll help you kind of deal) This leads these two to actually spending time together.

First and foremost my favorite thing about this story is the representation. I love how much I feel like I see myself in Reggie. She wears these big rimmed glasses like me and every time they are described, knowing she’s also a woman of color and a blogger.. I just can’t help but feel like hey hey the heroine could be me! Reggie also lives in a wheel chair and refuses to let her disability define her. It is interesting to see her interaction with Gus as he enters the picture. He is this total good guy, smooth, but you can tell Reggie is used to people wanting to fix her, so she has her guard up a bit, insists on doing everything herself..which is completely understandable.

Reading the clues, I think Gus may be on the autism spectrum. He is written so flawlessly and it isn’t made to be this big deal, it’s just part of who he is. I don’t know how Alyssa Cole did it, but it feels so natural. What I like about Gus is how obvious it is that he’s absolutely crazy about Reggie and his game is so strong, so smooth..

“Is there a reason you chose the chocolate tart first? she asked. His gaze darted down to her mouth and then back up. “You know the answer to that.

She shivered at the twin caresses of his vote in her ears and his breath across her mouth. “Tell me.”

I wanted to see how it tasted on your lips.” His voice had gone deeper again, to that level that made her whole body sound like a sound receptor vibrating from his eery word. 

“Then what are you waiting for?”

So far this book feels like a five star read for me. I’ll check back once I’ve finished it.

May 25, 2019, 10:00 pm

I finished! I ended up rating Can’t Escape Love 5 out of 5 stars over on Goodreads.  This book is less than a 3 hour listen to via audiobook, less than 200 pages and yet Alyssa Cole creates these emotions between Reggie and Gus, brings the tension, brings the family tension between Reggie and her family..all of these different layers to the story but ties it up in the end, enough that left me satisfied.

My heart went out to Gus there for a while. He really began to second guess himself. He began running through interactions with Reggie, which put him in his feelings..thinking she didn’t feel the same way he did.

“He’d told her that he’d give her whatever she needed. She’d never asked for him.”

I liked seeing the evolution of Reggie though. She is this strong, fierce woman of color who has always believed she didn’t need anyone.

“I’ll take care of you. Those were the exact last words Reggie had thought she’d every want to hear from someone she was dating, but coming from Gus, it wrapped her in warmth instead of pricking her anger.”

I loved seeing her stay true to herself, but allow Gus to Love her and for her to become open to loving him.

I definitely recommend this Reggie and Gus’s romance if you’re looking for a fun, quick read. I honestly would’ve loved another 100 or so pages. This is part of a series but I wasn’t totally lost having not read book 2 yet, so I think this could for sure be read as a standalone.

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#AhotMess 3 Star Read

No Two Ways by Chi You Rodriguez

Published April 27, 2019

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.00 Stars

My Rating: 3 Stars

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Synopsis:

AJ Felipe makes the most of being the head information security engineer for a local law firm with the help of her loyal team of nerds. Their job isn’t really the most fun, but things take a turn when one of her junior security engineers decides to nominate her for a makeover show.

Enter Jackie Niño, the one-night stand AJ didn’t expect to meet again—who also happens to be the makeup artist who’s going to get her all dolled up on national television.

More complications arise after the episode is aired and another ghost from her past comes back to haunt her: Axel Herrera, the ex-boyfriend who still thinks she left him because she’s a lesbian.

Spoiler alert: She isn’t.

Being bisexual is hard enough. How will AJ navigate new feelings while finding closure for old heartaches?

 

My Thoughts:

Oh where to start. Okay, I don’t know why, but I had high hopes for No Two Ways. I have had pretty good luck with shorter books so far this year. It’s authored by a woman of color, follows a woman of color and has a whole cast of diversity that was so refreshing and awesome and just what I wanted at the time.

Long story short though, there were a few things I liked about this book but a whole LOT that I couldn’t get down with.

Okay, AJ, our heroine and Jackie hook up. Jackie gets super pissed and offended afterwards when she learns that AJ is bisexual. AJ works as an information security officer with a team of people she loves and one day learns that her team has nominated her, submitted her, to be on this reality make over type show. Well guess what dear friends? Take a wild guess as to who her makeup artist is for the show..If you guessed Jackie, then you guessed right! So bam! Now these two have sort of reconnected.

So the show airs and BOOM, enter blast from the past, Axel..AJ’s ex boyfriend who believes that she broke up with him because she is a lesbian. The summary to this book made me feel like Axel entering the picture was really going shake things up. Wrong! All Axel did was bring him and AJ the “closure,” they needed. It added no value to the story. It didn’t make the story any more complicated. There is a scene where AJ and Axel are basically at His mom’s birthday party and I was super anxious for some drama to happen *how dare you break my son’s heart all those years ago* type drama..and NOTHING FREAKING HAPPENS! Yet, Axel is the least of our problems.

My biggest issue was AJ being a chump and Jackie being my least favorite person in the world. Sorry, not sorry.

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Let me just share with you some of the crap that comes out of Jackie’s mouth:

“You’d be so perfect if you weren’t bi. Like, I imagine you wearing one of my shirts sometimes, you know? Standing by my bed in the morning. You’d drown in any of my clothes and it’s so cute to think about, my heart hurts.”

I seriously have no idea why it wasn’t this exact moment that AJ told Jackie to kick rocks and to dismiss herself. And this is after Jackie asks her, “Why did you have to be biiiii”

Next is a text message from good ol’ Jackie to AJ. This text comes after the two link up and have sex in the bathroom of a bar that they coincidentally both end up at: AJ by herself and Jackie with a group of friends. After their bathroom sexcapades, Jackie goes back to her group and AJ sits at a bar. Some guy comes and sits next to her and next thing we know she’s going home..but Jackie, *insecure much* flips out on her!

“Am I just some straight girl fantasy to you? Are all the women you’ve slept with just fantasies you needed to fulfill? You know, AJ, I kinda can’t resist you, But watching you with that dude at the bar made my stomach turn, you know? Like, what are you even doing?”

Now as someone who doesn’t identify as bisexual I am by no means claiming to understand what living as someone who does, must be like. In the beginning of this book I could totally understand and feel the frustration AJ felt when it came to having to explain herself. People not understanding..I mean reading their frustration was frustrating to me for her. I got it. But also with just being a decent human being, I thought Jackie was kind of a shitty person and I thought AJ was dumb for going around and around in circles with her. Like AJ is obviously an intelligent person, but when it came to Jackie her book smarts and street smarts just weren’t leveling up for me. I want to see more heroines that stick up for themselves. I wanted AJ to freaking own her sexuality but it felt like she just sat idly by waiting for Jackie to either get with it or be on her way. Which fine, it worked I guess.. but in the end I felt like she settled. 

Jackie admits that she read some articles and educated herself..she tells AJ, “I read about you.” So AJ is all like, “I’m not famous enough for there to be anything out there on me,” but what Jackie really meant was, she read some stuff on bisexuality and Ta-Da things are up hill from here friends! *eye rolling*

I would’ve been very happy with Jackie taking the initiative to educate herself and be a better human but this book is less than 200 pages so obviously with it being short, there is the risk of certain characters not really being fleshed out. That was the case with Jackie *and Axel* but hey, he’s literally in the book for 2.5 seconds. Had I maybe gotten a few chapters from Jackie’s perspective, maybe the turn around and the happily ever after at the ending would’ve been believable, but I didn’t and it wasn’t. What should’ve been a happy moment because yay for happily ever afters, was one roll of the eyes after another. I was rooting for the female/female love story but hell I would’ve chosen Axel in this case and he was honestly, no better! AJ could’ve ended up alone and I would’ve been happy.

I think if you’re going to write a book and advertise it as female/female but yet have one of the females be biphobic, you really need to showcase their growth as a character and the work they put in to understand and do better. I don’t think it’s fair to write a passage where they say I DID THIS and then things are magically better. Like hell no, especially with all of the pretty bad things Jackie said to AJ throughout the book..I felt she deserved to prove herself a bit more.

In the end I gave this one 3 stars because although the bad outweighed the good by a long shot..there was some good. I am so happy this book followed an intelligent woman who not only has this cool job you don’t read about much, but was also the Boss. I loved that this followed a woman of color in her native country and I loved AJ’s family. Love love Loved them. I found myself anticipating more scenes with them. Both blood family and friends who became family.

I will continue to keep a lookout for more stories by this author. I’m rooting for her, but this one was just okay to me.

 

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RomanceAThon TBR

Hey Hey! The RomanceAThon is upon us and I’m so excited.  It will be taking place June 17th through June 23rd and is hosted by GabbyReads and Jacqueline from We Be Book’n over on Youtube.

RomanceAthon

Here are the prompts:

RomanceathonTBR

Per usual, I am focusing on the prompts only to an extent. I really just want to see how many romances I manage to read throughout the week. I find that I am way more successful with readathons when I stick to the theme but don’t stress myself out trying to find books that fit challenges. I am kind of killing my summer romance bingo board by reading what I want, then pulling out my list to see what challenges what I read fit into. Cool? Cool..here’s what I plan to read!

My LGBT Romance picks *yes, there are two*

First I have Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan

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I also plan to read How to Make a Wish  by Ashley Herring Blake

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Read a book with pink on the cover: For this one I am picking one that has been sitting on my nightstand for months now and now feels like the perfect time to finally pick it up and that’s The Trouble With Cowboys by Victoria James.

the trouble with cowboys

Read a Romance with a Man on the Cover: For this one, I am picking up one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, Kerry Winfrey’s, Waiting For Tom Hanks  

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Read a romance released in 2019: I will be reading Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

fix her up

There are only two prompts I don’t at the moment have anything I want to read for, but I do have quite a few books on my Kindle that I’d like to get to over the next few weeks, and 2 in particular that if I could fit into RomanceAthon would be great!

First is one I am a few chapters into already, and that’s I’ll Be Good To You by Chelsea Marie

good to you

And last, but not least is Reigning Magicking by Candace Osmond and JJ King.

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So those are my picks! I am so so excited. Let me know if you are joining in on this readathon and if so, share with me what you’ll be reading!

xo.

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#Bookstagram

Hey hey friends! Today I want to chat about the bookish corner of Instagram that we call Bookstagram. 

Back when I decided to really take blogging seriously, I did a little studying which consisted of youtube videos and really paying attention to the content I subscribed to and I came to the conclusion I needed to utilize Instagram. In my opinion, regardless of your platform-whether you’re a blogger, YouTuber, podcaster..you have to utilize another forum to interact with your audience and boost your content. For me, I decided to give Bookstagram a try.

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For me personally, I have a couple reasons why I love doing Bookstagram.

  • It gets me out of the house and forces me to spend time alone. As a Mom it is so easy to put everyone’s needs ahead of my own and not make alone time a priority. With wanting to continue to create content for my Bookstagram, I have to get up and get out to do so to stick with the theme of my feed.
  • With the theme of my feed being what I’m reading and the latte I’m drinking, I hit a point where I realized I needed to switch it up. I had found a coffee shop that I loved but I needed to seek more. I am lucky that my city has tons. Wanting to switch it up for my feed gave me the encouragement to go explore more coffee shops and cafes which has lead to meeting really cool baristas and just different vibes from place to place.

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Now I am by no means an expert and I don’t have a super huge following but I still wanted to share a few things I’ve learned and figured out along the way in the time I’ve had my account.

  • First things first: do your research and learn what you can about Instagram’s algorithm. I watched video on top of video discussions about this and read a few articles on it. Do your research so you understand how it works. It is this system that dictates the relevancy of your post. Followers may or may not even know you posted because of it.
  • Interact with your followers and people you follow. Interaction plays a part into the algorithm. The more you’ve interacted with someone, the more likely they are to see your post on their feed.
  • Visibility is important. This is part of the engagement factor. Especially with the accounts that are bigger than yours–it’s so easy to assume  an account with 65K followers won’t see your comment or interact with you, but this isn’t necessarily true. As soon as you see their post, comment and engage with them. The earlier your comment is posted, the better your chances of it being seen. You want to get your name out there.
  • Use hashtags! Some popular ones are #Bookstagram #Bookstagrammer #Bibliophile #WhatImReadingNow When people search these hashtags, there is the possibility they will come across your post!

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To end off, I want to share a few more tips/pieces of advice that I really think are helpful..a bit typical and cliche but do actually make a difference:

  • Natural Lighting is the MVP..I remember getting to the coffee shop when it first opened and it’d still be dark outside. Taking photos was so frustrating and even more frustrating when I’d try and edit them. I learned quickly how much of a life saver natural lighting is.
  • Find your theme and make it work. Don’t be afraid to switch it up though. I think a lot of people feel like “all of my photos have to look like it’s autumn all year.” If that’s not what you want to do, then Don’t do it! I rarely change up the theme of my content. For the most part it is always a book and coffee.. sometimes a book and a smoothie, but how I edit has been switched up. There are times when I want my photos to be a bit warmer and times when I want them to be brighter. I’m okay with switching it up and haven’t had any backlash from doing so. Does this cause me to be summoned to the bottom of the list by the algorithm gods..maybe, but I post what I’m happy with and at the end of the day, that’s what matters to me.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself. It is so easy to get caught up in the feeling of having to stay relevant. Don’t post just to post. Post when you have something to say, when you have a photo you love and want to share with the world. I love when a friend will comment on a photo telling me they know when I post, it’s going to be something thoughtful. That’s what I want to be known for. Saying what I mean, sharing pieces of real life and relatable stuff.
  • Utilize the Stories feature. Especially on days where I’m not actually posting on my feed, the stories is so useful. I will highlight a passage from what I’m reading and loved. If I have book mail, I’ll use stories to do an unboxing. I also use it for behind the bookstagrammer like when I’m at the coffee shop..just taking photos of my surroundings, my coffee when I first get it..a look into what is going on prior to or after the photo that eventually shows up on my feed.
  • Lastly, have fun with it! don’t be afraid to take breaks if needed. Instagram/Bookstagram is a cool way to engage with other people who love reading, but let’s be real..this is 2019 and everything can feel like a competition. Don’t let it feel that way and if it does..it’s okay to take a step back and re-evaluate why you’re doing it in the first place.

 

Hope this is some helpful input. I would love to see some tips from other Bookstagrammers! If you’re a Bookstagrammer, share with me one of your biggest pieces of advice.

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Published May 14, 2019 by Gallery Books

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.14 Stars

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Synopsis:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

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My Thoughts:

The Unhoneymooners is freaking hilarious! It was 6:15 on a Wednesday morning, I was driving in my car, laughing my butt off at only two chapters into this book. I knew then that I was going to enjoy it.

This romance follows Olive and Ethan and has a few tropes that make the story. It is enemy to lovers. When Olive and Ethan first meet their interaction is far from perfect and they have basically hated each other since. There are plenty of other scumbag reasons behind it that you find out later on in the book.

Along with enemy to lovers, this is also fake marriage and every freaking thing that can go wrong when you’re faking a marriage! Olive’s sister’s wedding is a disaster and long story short, Olive and Ethan end up taking her sisters honeymoon.

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I liked seeing these two tropes and Christina Lauren’s creative spin on them. I need a Netflix adaptation to this romance asap! Olive was a mess and I loved her. Her sister Amy is the lucky sister and Olive just believes that luck isn’t on her side. She is a total skeptic. She is a negative thinker. What I liked that Christina Lauren did with these character traits is when crap hits the fan, showcase how easy it is to doubt Olivia because of her track record, because of her negative thinking.

I also really enjoyed the spin they put on the backstory of Olive and Ethan. Olive puts together the pieces behind their interactions and the manipulation that was being played behind closed doors which lead into a story of its own. I thought it was so, so well done.

I highly recommend The Unhoneymooners whether you’re already a Christina Lauren fan or if this would be your first by the author duo. If you can get your hands on the audiobook, even better! The narration was fantastic and especially for the scenes where Olive’s family was around..it was perfection.

*it can be hard putting thoughts together on books I love* but basically, you should read this book. I loved it.

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#SmutAThon Round 3 Wrap Up

Okay, here’s what I managed to read for round 3 of #SmutAThon which is hosted by Lainey and Riley over on the bookish corner of Youtube.

WrapUp

First I listened to Wednesday by Kendall Ryan on audiobook. It is available on the Audible Romance package.

Wednesday

I rated this one 3/5 stars. It was a quick, sexy read that deals with some heavy grief issues. I really liked it.

My next read was Imperfect Match by Corinne Michaels and Melanie Harlow.

Imperfect Match

I rated Imperfect Match 4/5 stars. This was a fun, sexy, friends to lovers romance and I loved it, so much.

Next I finished A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole!

A Duke by Default

I rated this one 4/5 stars. It was another wonderful interracial romance delivered to us from Alyssa Cole with issues that need working through, friendships, familial crap and a few sizzling moments all wrapped up into one really awesome story.

I literally finished my next pick in one sitting..in the car.

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Smooth-Talking Cowboy by Maisey Yates is book 1 in her Gold Valley series. This is another series I have read completely out of order but at this point that’s to be expected. *shrug* This was a pretty sexy enemies to lovers romance following a girl who recently broke up with her boyfriend and comes up with this plan to pretend date this guy she’s never really cared for..with the hopes that this will persuade her ex to get his crap together. In true romance fashion, things don’t turn out the way she intended and there is a happy ever after. I loved it.

My last read is also part of a series. It is the second book in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series which I read book one to literally a year ago.

Wrong to Need You

Wrong To Need You while reading feels so wrong, so forbidden yet you want Jackson and Sadia to just freaking go for it already because it’s very apparent that these two have basically always been made for each other and never got their chance. A very serious vibe to it. Kind of dark and emotional yet so sexy. I really liked it.

 

So yeah, those are the books I managed to read for round 3 of #SmutAthon. I didn’t manage to get to my Sierra Simone pick or Emma Hart but there is another romance readathon coming up in June..so you never know! We’ll see what my picks are for it.

xo.

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