This Chicks Audio Reviews: Under One Roof and Stuck With You (The STEMinist Novellas #1 & #2) by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis was one of my favorite romance novels of 2021, so when Ali Hazelwood came out with novellas featuring women of STEM (Scientist, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) I had to read them and see if she could repeat her magical formula in short form. Part of what worked for me in The Love Hypothesis was the geeky humor and witty dialog. Also, the complete obtuseness (is that a word?) when it came to attraction and love that our main character betrayed. The STEMinist novella heroines definitely followed this same format. Super bright but when it came to their own love lives, they needed some great advice from their friends. It’s always easier to pick apart your best friends behavior than it is to figure out your own, right? This novella series follows three best friends who are all women of STEM and certainly have an opinion on each other’s love lives but aren’t so great at figuring out their own.

Under One Roof is book one in this short story series. Environmental Engineer, Mara, inherits half a house from her mentor and needs to move in asap. Inhabiting that house is big-oil lawyer Liam. They say opposites attract and you know when that front door opens that this is definitely the case but it takes a while for our duo to put aside their differences and take a chance on each other. It’s not often when I read a novella that feels like a full-length book but Ali Hazelwood does a great job of making that happen in Under One Roof. Mara and Liam fulfill that tension that I love in an enemies to lovers story! This book was narrated by Emma Wilder who did a great job voicing both characters and injecting humor, anger, angst, and attraction into every word. Bravo! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Stuck With You is the second book in the series and is the story of Civil Engineer, Sadie, who is slightly neurotic but ultimately adorable. She meets the hot, tall (to her very short) Viking, Erik at the local coffee shop. She is desperate for her lucky croissant and he just purchased the last one. This absolutely charming novella spends one wonderful day with the two of them as they get to know each other, not bothering to fight their attraction. Of course, it doesn’t all go smoothly but rights itself in the end with a little help from her friends. I’m saying less about this novella but I actually liked it a little bit more. The narration by Meg Sylvan was spot on. Her slight accent for the Dutch-born Erik is just amazing. You totally forget it’s a woman voicing his character! Sadie is a genius, but neurotically superstitious and her quirks made this short story a ton of fun. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I can’t wait for the third novella, Below Zero, to come out in July! The third and final STEMinist’s story looks to be a charmer. Each of these audiobooks runs just over three hours, so if you have a short car trip or are cooking something complicated on a weekend it’s the perfect amount of time to spend with these characters. The novellas both read like a full-length novel and don’t leave you hanging.

Click these links to purchase! Under One Roof and Stuck With You

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This Chick Read: By the Book (A Meant to Be novel) by Jasmine Guillory

Isabelle’s dream job as an associate editor at a publishing firm has definitely lost its luster. She wants to advance her career but feels like she’s stuck in a dead end job, unnoticed by her editor. When she travels out to California for a book convention she overhears a conversation about one of their celebrity authors and offers to head to his house in Santa Barbara and see if she can help him get over his writer’s block. When she gets to Beau Towers house she’s confronted by and angry, immensely handsome man only a few years older than herself. Her forthright attitude and direct approach seems to resonate and he allows her to stay for a week.

I’ve read a few Jasmine Guillory books and By the Book is my favorite to date. This novel is described as being a re-imagined fairytale, and I can’t help but think it fits into the Beauty and the Beast slot? I’m not 100% sure but Beau is definitely a beast to her when she first arrives and she is a girl who loves her books, just like Belle! Our Belle, nicknamed Izzy, sees the golden heart inside of her beast and through helping him write helps him deal with some personal family pain.

This novel is not just about helping Beau see what he needs to reveal in order to heal but it’s also about Izzy being true to herself, not letting others undermine her, and sticking with her dream. I really liked how supportive they were with each other as well as how each of them opened their eyes and looked beyond the surface.

If you are a fan of Jasmine Guillory, By the Book will not disappoint. She has a wonderfully easy style of writing and I often find myself enmeshed in her stories not wanting to put the book down. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* By the Book

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*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chicks Audio Review: Next in Line (Cake #6) by J. Bengtsson

The driving force behind Quinn McCallister, the youngest brother of rock star Jake McCallister, is that he is determined to be better and more famous than his older brother. Kind of hard to do when your older brother was a kidnap victim who escaped after a month of captivity only by killing his captor. Then there’s the fact that he’s uber talented. Quinn grew up in Jake’s limelight, wishing for his attention but not getting it. No surprise because his brother has some horrible trauma to work through. As Next in Line begins, Quinn is a candidate on a singing competition show and despite promises from the producers not to use his family to garner ratings they, of course do. In return Quinn sings a heartbreaking song that goes viral, and walks off and out of their lives. Enter Jess, the uber/Lyft driver who picks him up as he’s being chased down the sidewalk by one of said producers. He gets in the car and her sass immediately gets him out of his own head. Who is this girl who he has told to take him someplace fun, but not too much fun?

I am a big fan of the Cake series. J. Bengtsson’s witty dialog always keeps me reading despite knowing she’s going to make me relive Jake’s torture for the sixth time. Next In LIne, while still dealing with the trauma the McCallister family went through because of what happened to Jake and subsequently them, does seem slightly watered down. Maybe in part this is because Quinn was only six years old when his brother was kidnapped. Just as with the other McCallister kids, they use humor to hide behind and Jess, who also has a difficult childhood does the same. This means I chuckled, laughed, and cried my way through their interactions.

There was one point in the book where I turned to my sister, who had already read the book, and asked if Quinn and Jess’s stories will twine back together again because i was reading this for the romance, not for Quinn’s journey into rock and roll. I did stick it out, but I really wish I’d been reading the book instead of listening to it because I could’ve skipped over some of the less interesting (to me) parts and gotten back to the romance. The narrator’s BTW did an amazing job. Andi Arndt should read all contemporary books and as much as I love Zachary Webber normally, I think she outshone him in her interpretation of the characters, even Quinn’s. She was incredible.

I bet you’re trying to figure out if I liked this book. I’ll admit, I waffled a bit. Yes, I did like it but I wish it was more Quinn and Jess, and less Quinn the rock star. I wish that Jake didn’t have to relive his trauma every time one of his brothers or sisters fell in love. I feel bad for the guy! I also wish that Andi Arndt had more audio time. However, if I break it down, this series is one that I’ll keep coming back to read and listen to again and again. Yes, I do have my favorite books (Kyle’s and Emma’s), and Quinn’s probably falls at the bottom of the list but it was still good. Some Others were just better. I’m sure you have your own favorite too.

❤️❤️❤️❣️

Click this link to purchase the audiobook!* Next in Line: A Cake Series Novel

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This Chick Audio Review: The Paris Secret by Karen Swan

Flora Sykes, a fine arts dealer, is brought in to assess an amazing find. An unopened apartment in Paris filled with antiques and art that haven’t been touched in 70 years. Owned by the wealthy Vermeil family, Flora’s job is to research those antiques and establish provenance. Using this job as an escape from a personal tragedy, Flora immerses herself in the history of this find that includes a rare Renoir. As she gets closer to answers she keeps stumbling upon the brusque Xavier Vermeil the heir to the Vermeil dynasty who seems upset at her involvement, especially when her research turns up a shocking truth that threatens the reputation of his family.

The Paris Secret takes you all over Europe, to London, Paris, New York, and Vienna and the narrator Lucy Price-Lewis does an amazing job moving smoothly from one accent to another. I truly felt like there were multiple people narrating this novel. She did an amazingly seamless job. I’ll definitely be putting her on my must listen list. However, it is the author who deftly wrote a story that I’ve now come across a few times, and made it stand out from the other novels. The Paris Secret did not provide flashbacks as a tool, staying in the 20th Century. An effective tool to show the disparity in wealth that the Vermeil family had and the power that wealth has given them over time. A power that in part came from their love of art.

As Flora was distracting herself with this amazingly interesting find in Paris, her family was going through something powerfully emotional. The author chose to keep the reader in the dark through a great portion of the book only revealing her family secret when it made sense in moving the plot emotionally forward. Her investigation and her own secret rode parallel to each other in the story creating an explosive conflict in the story between she and Xavier. I’ll admit their attraction was confusing, tense, and mysterious. The narration was so, so good, I eagerly anticipated every word.

As there have been a few of these secret Paris apartment stories in the last 5-6 years, I’m sure you can guess the provenance of where the art came from, but as I said above, the way Karen Swan delivered this information, keeping the story contemporary and current, was a different take on the story that I really enjoyed. I also loved the tension-filled scenes between Flora and Xavier, as well as Flora’s investigation across the European continent. She was a strong, intelligent heroine, and I really liked her. I highly recommend this novel and if you have the time please try the audiobook. Lucy Price-Lewis did an amazing job and made me want to travel to France again sometime soon. Ooh-La-La!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link and purchase this book!* The Paris Secret: A Novel

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

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This Chick Read: Taking the Leap (River Rain #3) by Kristen Ashley

Alexandra Sharp knows she has to get over this crush she has on her co-worker “Rix” Hendrix. She stumbles, stutters, and glances away whenever he’s near and he can’t help but notice. However, his own insecurities make him think her discomfort is because of his prosthetics, not because she finds him attractive. Until they are out for drinks one night to celebrate and they get a chance to connect. Alex is never going to take the chance, despite having lied to her sister about her dating Rix and is forced into saying he’ll be her plus one at Blake’s wedding. Rix takes advantage of the situation to get to know Alex the shy, beautiful woman who has feelings for him.

This really was a very simple story arc for Alex and Rix. Co-workers who plan to pretend they are a couple for the purpose of protecting Alex from her socialite and kind of mean sister, and parents. Rix plays all the right angles stating they need to get to know each other in order to get their story straight and feel comfortable. That comfortableness quickly advances into a physical relationship and their pretend status becomes permanent. However, there are emotional subtleties that each character needs to overcome in order to advance their relationship emotionally. Taking the Leap is as straightforward a romance as Kristen Ashley knows how to write and Alex and Rix are characters you can root for and can’t help but like. I did.

For me, the story became energized when Rix and Alex got to New York and were mixing with her high society family. Her sister Blake’s bride-zilla attitude and her mother’s OMG behaviour added relevance as to why Alex was so quiet and shy. Rix’s protective nature came out and you forgot that he was a man with amputated legs. He was all alpha male. Out of all those scenes with her family I especially liked the quiet moments of bonding between Alex and her dad which were sweet and hopeful.

Taking the Leap had moments where Rix and Alex touched on all of the emotions, but it was the wedding scene that struck me as most memorable and man did I laugh! Without giving away any details, I’ll just say that the family bonded over an enemy and the way it went down was all I’d hoped it would be.

I had high hopes for Alex and Rix, and overall I liked them a lot. They were a good pairing and seemed to compliment each others strengths and weaknesses. However, they paled in comparison to the strength and joy in Chloe and Judge’s story. Those two will forever be my favorites in this series, but this book did not disappoint. For those of you who want to jump right in, yes, you can read this as a stand alone, but at least start with Chasing Serenity because the back story will help you with these characters histories and you’ll enjoy your journey a bit more. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link and purchase this book!* Taking the Leap: A River Rain Novel

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Sari, Not Sari by Sonya Singh

Manny Dogra, CEO of Breakup, a company that helps break the news gently through email, is successful and beautiful. She’s also engaged to Adam, a hard-working architect and entrepreneur. Of South Asian descent, Manny was raised by her parents to be All-American where working hard can help you capture your dream, but when she finds herself on a magazine cover that has edited out her heritage by lightening her skin tone she finds herself having an identity crisis. Sammy Patel wants to use Breakup’s services to temporarily break-up with his girlfriend so he can go to his brothers wedding and not have to deal with his family’s being upset that he has a non-Indian girlfriend. Manny and Sammy strike a deal. She’ll help him out if he brings her to the week-long festivities so she can see what being in a big Indian family is really like.

I love a strong hard-working female protagonist and Manny is all of that, plus she’s kind-hearted and a good friend to her co-workers and friends. Her search for her heritage was colorful, fun, and dazzling. She fit right in and found herself, which was a really neat thing to read about and explore through her eyes. I liked her story a lot. I don’t usually love plots where our main character has a boyfriend, or is engaged to another man and then finds a new one before ending the old relationship, but Sonya Singh does a great job of making Adam somewhat unavailable to both Manny and the reader so you never build a connection to him. When Sammy enters her life and fills it with color you don’t feel too bad and that’s before you catch on to plot details and character defects that sway your decision one way or the other. So, nice job Ms. Singh on taking that trope and making it work. Other authors have made me cringe but this book didn’t at all. Whew!

The story definitely took off when you got to Sammy’s family and Manny’s eagerness to fit in. I fell in love with all of the characters, the clothes, and how Manny finally found herself. I do wish there had been more scenes between Manny and Sammy so that I could feel like she fell in love with him as well as falling in love with her heritage and subsequently him because of that but there were enough subliminal feelings to convince me that this could be a love story. The heat factor was very mild to almost non-existent the moments between our two main characters were more sweet and supportive than sizzling chemistry. For those of you who like a light (less heated) romance Sari, Not Sari will be a perfect hit. While I am not an erotica reader, I do like a bit of chemistry and heat in my romance novels and I was a little bit disappointed.

Sari, Not Sari is the debut novel by Sonya Singh. I loved her writing style which was very easy reading. The plot flowed really well and the characters had depth so the reader understood them very well. The only thing missing for me was a little heat so that their love didn’t feel so much like insta-love. Despite that, I would still highly recommend this novel for the fun South Asian parties, clothes, and characters. Sari, Not Sari is sweet and so easy to like. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley or my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this novel!* Sari, Not Sari

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if your purchase this novel through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Homecoming King (Three Kings #1) by Penny Reid

Rex McMurtry, pro football defensive end for the Chicago Squalls, has a reputation for dating a woman and having the next person they date marry them. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride, Rex is tired of the journalists poking fun at him. When Abby finds her high school crush sitting quietly at the bar where she works, she silently serves him two drinks not realizing that he is blind drunk. Feeling responsible, she has a few friends help get him into her car where she plans to drive him home. His throwing up all over the both of them derails that plan and she decides the safest place for his famous face is on the blow up mattress in her apartment. When he wakes up and realizes she took care of him he makes a proposition that she unfortunately just can’t refuse.

I loved Abby! She is more than slightly distrustful of people and so guards her heart very tightly, but Rex was her childhood crush. She couldn’t really refuse any request he’d make of her, even if it was to be his fake wife. She was the perfect mix of innocence and arrogance. After a failed marriage and a brief stint in prison I don’t blame her for not trusting men. Her ex was a dirtbag! Despite Rex’s fake marriage proposition she feels like she knows him because she semi-stalked him all through her youth. Truthfully, he isn’t much different than he was back in high school, putting a wall up between he and anyone who wants to get close. Abby has a way of disarming him and soon she becomes one of the most important people in his life. Once again, Penny Reid writes a charming, different type of romance novel that is just fun, funny, and really damn appealing.

Most of Rex’s friends have gotten married, all to ex’s of Rex’s. LOL. However, there are two friends who’ve remained single and dare I guess that they will be King #2 and #3? While not War and Peace, Homecoming King is utterly charming and the series has promise. I can’t wait for the second to come out. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* Homecoming King (Three Kings Book 1)

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Catalina Martín is the Maid of Honor in her sister’s wedding and she just found out that her ex will be bringing his new fiancée to the wedding. This was not a relationship that ended well and in fact contributed to Lina moving from Spain to NYC. Ever since their break-up she’s had trouble trusting someone enough to let them into her life and has remained single, but the last thing she wants to do is go back home as “poor Lina” for her sister’s wedding. She needs a date! Enter Aaron Blackford, her handsome and cold work frenemy, who volunteers to be her plus one. Despite the signs for a disastrous trip, Lina agrees to pull off this Spanish Love Deception with Aaron. What she doesn’t expect is for that frenemy chemistry to shift until she sees him with new eyes. Was she wrong about him all along?

This novel won Best Debut of 2021 by Goodreads readers and I can certainly see why! It’s reminiscent of all of the best enemies to lovers novels, including one of my favorites from last year The Love Hypothesis but this author steps up the chemistry a little earlier with a “fake date” that has Lina questioning her hatred of Aaron mid book instead of making us wait until the very end for her to realize he’s the one for her. I’m not saying that their fait accompli is not still drawn out, but at least there is some hesitancy to hate, which for me made all of the difference.

Is the plot of needing a date for a wedding overused? Yes, I think it is, however Lina’s charming Spanish family more than made up for any tiredness. I loved how everyone wanted Lina’s happiness and how they stood by her despite her ex being the groom’s brother. I also loved, loved, loved Aaron. He gives some swoon-worthy monologues that makes this fantasy novel shoot to a ten on the emotional scale. If he wasn’t already fictional, I’d certainly think he was too good to be true! Not to say he didn’t have his faults, he never strayed from his cool as a cucumber persona, but he was all mush when it came to Catalina. It was so sweet.

This was true escapism at its best. Easy reading, great characters, lots of depth of character, and a magnificently steamy love story. The fact it’s this author’s debut novel is astounding and boy… I can’t wait for her second. Ummm, when is it coming out? ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* The Spanish Love Deception: A Novel

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link, I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (3/7/22)

I think my re-watching of Bridgerton this weekend got a little bit in the way of my reading. I’m excited for the release later this month of Season 2! I watched it when it first came out and it’s funny what my brain remembered (not that much), and I forgot all the sex and naked chests. Wowie! I am now ready to see what season 2 brings. Despite that 8 or 9 hours of binge watching I did finish a contemporary romance by Meghan Quinn and started an oldie but goodie by Nora Roberts. Here’s the scoop.

*Thanks again to Book Date for starting this conversation!

JUST FINISHED

I’ll admit that this wasn’t my normal reading choice but I’ve read Meghan Quinn in the past and have found her stories have a sense of humor that I felt I needed this weekend. There were moments in this novel that were pretty funny and it was a quick read. Just what I was looking for.

JUST STARTED

I was going through Nora Roberts books on my library app and there are so many of her romantic thrillers that I somehow skipped. High Noon came out in 2007 and so far it’s off to a great start.

Are there any shows that are keeping you from picking up that book you’ve been eyeing? This month there are a LOT of Netflix releases that I’m looking forward to and I bet you all have a few as well. Let’s hear them!

Happy Monday and happy reading!

Deb

This Chick Read: By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate

Lanie is a romance editor in a publishing firm who’s biggest client is the super popular Noa Calloway. Lanie loves Noa’s books and has based her entire relationship with her fiancé on a romantic list on the back of one of Noa’s bestsellers. She’s been lucky enough to develop an online friendship with Noa, exchanging edits and quips. When her boss retires, Lanie is given her job as the exclusive editor of Noa Calloways with the caveat that she has to have her next book in hand in three months or the job is not hers. Lanie sets up her first meeting (in person) with Noa and discovers she’s Noah Ross, and yes he’s a man. Lanie heads into a tailspin, thinking everything she’s done in her life was based on this lie. Somehow she has to get past it… and get Noah to write that next bestseller.

What would you do if Nora Roberts turned out to be a man? This is what I thought when I realized Noa Calloway wasn’t who Lanie thought she was, and in fact, was a he. If I were a romantic like Lanie I would probably be upset, shocked, angry, etc. and eventually also realize that I love my job regardless and needed to focus on helping Noah get over his writer’s block. Lanie goes all in, showing Noah her favorite places in New York and helping inspire him on his next story. What she doesn’t realize that this real life plot shift also brings to life some imperfections in her own relationship. In this way, she grows from her youthful expectations of love to realize a more adult outlook on both love and life.

This friends to lovers romance was sweet and very satisfying! Despite the bad feelings, these two cared too much about their friendship to let that one thing stand in the way of their relationship. There was a LOT of initial tension but there’s nothing I like better than when that tone shifts from anger to begrudging respect, adoration, and even love. These two had such great chemistry it would’ve been a crime if they hadn’t found a way to be together.

If you love friends to lovers slow burn romances, this is the perfect book for you. Set in New York, this story felt like a fairytale, and their slow growing romance was fun, sweet, and led up to a fabulous conclusion. What more could a romance reader want? ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* By Any Other Name

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.