Faker by Sarah Smith

Since the second Emmie met her coworker Tate, she believes he hates her. In turn, she has kept up her walls around him, but after being forced to work on a project together, will they see that it was a misunderstanding all along?

Romance, 336 pages, published in 2019

Since the second Emmie met her coworker Tate, she believes he hates her. In turn, she has kept up her walls around him, but after being forced to work on a project together, will they see that it was a misunderstanding all along?

Spoiler Free Review:

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I love hate-to-love relationships, so I was really excited when a friend recommended this book to me! I was a little hesitant going in because I had seen some bad ratings, but this book was overall pretty good!

I don’t think that Emmie and Tate were super unique characters, but they were fun to follow. Emmie has to pretend to be confident and unwavering at work because she works with mostly men. Tate is so quiet that he sometimes has a hard time communicating his feelings.

Hate-to-love romances are among my favorites to read because I love the tension. This one didn’t have the most tension in terms of the actual relationship, but there was a fair amount of sexual tension that I did enjoy.

One trope I adore is the one where one person takes care of the other while they are sick. There was an abundance of that in this book and I loved it! I love soft, tender moments like that. One trope that was in this book that I hate is toothbrush sharing. Truly, it’s so gross to me and I know it is supposed to be romantic, but I totally don’t see it that way.

Some of the dialogue was a little cheesy, but for the most part, I didn’t have a problem with it. I did think it would focus a little bit more on the workplace, since Tate and Emmie are coworkers and they really begin connecting during a work project.

Overall, this was a fun and cute romance! It wasn’t an all-time fave, but I definitely enjoyed it while I was reading it.

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Synopsis: After moving in with her sister to help with her recovery, Emily gets roped into doing a Renaissance Faire with her niece. After clashing with Simon, the guy in charge of the Faire, Emily isn’t sure about the thing, but quickly starts having fun as the tavern wench. Most surprisingly, she is having fun flirting with Captain Blackthorne, a charismatic pirate, who just so happens to be played by Simon.

Romance, 336 pages, published in 2019

Synopsis: After moving in with her sister to help with her recovery, Emily gets roped into doing a Renaissance Faire with her niece. After clashing with Simon, the guy in charge of the Faire, Emily isn’t sure about the thing, but quickly starts having fun as the tavern wench. Most surprisingly, she is having fun flirting with Captain Blackthorne, a charismatic pirate, who just so happens to be played by Simon.

Spoiler Free Review:

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I was immediately drawn to this book for both the cover and the premise. These cute drawn covers are my romance novel weakness!

This was such a cute book overall! I liked the characters, their relationship, and all the of the stuff going in both of their lives. I found Emily super relatable. She is 24, doesn’t know what to do with her life, and get anxious going into unknown social situations. The only difference is that I’m 25! I loved seeing her figure out where she wants her life to go. Basically, I am her at the beginning of the book, but I want to be her at the end of the book 😂. I also loved watching her relationships with her sister and niece grow.

I didn’t feel as strongly for Simon, only because we don’t get to see things from his point of view. I did think that his struggle with grief and doing things because they are expected of him was really interesting.

I love the Faire aspect of this book! It made me really interested in going to one sometime. It just seemed like such a fun atmosphere and the acting aspect of it was so fun. During the Faire, Emily and Simon are pretending to be married for their roles, so it was similar to fake dating. The pirate and wench energy they had was so good!

This book definitely was not as steamy as I thought it would be. I guess the romance I’ve been reading recently has been steamier, so I forgot that romance could be tame! It definitely didn’t take away from the story or relationship at all.

Overall, this was such a cute, fun book! I think what makes it stand out to me is that I enjoyed all the other parts of the plot, not only the romance. I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Jen DeLuca in the future!

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Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Synopsis: Georgette has had a crush on her brother’s best friend Travis, a baseball star, for as long as she can remember. When he moves back into town after leaving the big leagues, disgraced, he starts working at Georgie’s family’s construction company. Georgie has always been defined by other people – the baby of the family, her brother’s sister, the town’s resident clown, but she’s ready to be her own person. Travis needs to look more wholesome than his reputation leads the public to believe in order to get a job, he and Georgie pretend to date in order to get both of them what they want.

Romance, 400 pages, published June 11th, 2019

Synopsis: Georgette has had a crush on her brother’s best friend Travis, a baseball star, for as long as she can remember. When he moves back into town after leaving the big leagues, disgraced, he starts working at Georgie’s family’s construction company. Georgie has always been defined by other people – the baby of the family, her brother’s sister, the town’s resident clown, but she’s ready to be her own person. Travis needs to look more wholesome than his reputation leads the public to believe in order to get a job, he and Georgie pretend to date in order to get both of them what they want.

Non-Spoiler Review:

The cover on this one got me! If you look at all the romance books I read, they all have these cute illustrated covers because I love them! I know a lot of people said they thought the cover was misleading, but I didn’t really think it was.

I’m starting to feel like a lot of the romances I’m reading blend together in my head, they are becoming kind of dime a dozen to me. This one kind of falls into the enjoyable but forgettable category for me. I liked some of the themes, but overall, it just wasn’t unique enough for me to remember it.

A warning if you are planning on reading this book: the sex scenes are pretty steamy. If you aren’t used to that, it could definitely be a little shocking. I feel like a lot of that is because of the amount of dirty talk in these scenes. I heard so many people say this was the steamiest book they’ve ever read, so I was prepared for that, but honestly, I’ve read steamier. I will say, they were pretty long scenes, which I appreciate and I did enjoy them!

I thought Georgie was interesting. I didn’t really feel a connection to her because I thought her occupation as a clown was weird (sorry) and I didn’t relate at all to her desperately wanting kids. Those two things are intertwined, and they are both a big part of her personality, so I couldn’t really bring myself to care about her career or hopes and dreams. I believe it was stated that she is 23 years old in the book, so I thought I could relate (I’m 24), but it felt like she was way older than that! I did enjoy her struggle and growth to become her own person though.

Travis was…fine. I felt like he kept going back and forth on feelings and decisions without much thought. I don’t feel like he really had enough time to change and grow.

The thing I really loved about this book was the group of girls that formed. They were really there for each other and supported each other through everything. It was really nice to see. They all kind of broke free of how others defined them in relation to the people they knew (example: someone’s wife, someone’s daughter).

The ending was pretty rushed in my opinion. Like I said above, Travis made some decisions with almost nothing leading up to them. I just wanted a little more from that whole situation.

Overall, this was a good romance. It definitely wasn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed it while I was reading it.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Synopsis: After being involved in a disaster at a royal wedding, First Son of the United States Alex must pretend to be friends with His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales in order to keep international peace. However, Alex soon realizes that they stopped pretending and that he even may have feelings bigger than friendship for the prince.

Romance, 423 pages, published May 14th, 2019

Synopsis: After being involved in a disaster at a royal wedding, First Son of the United States Alex must pretend to be friends with His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales in order to keep international peace. However, Alex soon realizes that they stopped pretending and that he even may have feelings bigger than friendship for the prince.

NON-SPOILER REVIEW:

Oh man, I feel like the hype precedes this book! I saw it everywhere before its release, so I figured I had better get on board. I haven’t stopped hearing about it since its release, and honestly, the praise is well deserved.

This is fairly long for a romance novel, and I did think it dragged a bit in the middle, but I definitely liked the length of it. I thought everything had enough time to develop and different situations had time to resolve. My recent romance complaint has been that endings feel rushed, so I’m happy to say that I don’t feel that way about this book!

My absolute favorite thing about this book was the relationships, both the main romantic relationship, as well as all of the platonic and familial relationships that were presented. Especially on Alex’s end, he always had such a large group of family and friends around him who supported him and gave him the cold, hard truth when he needed to hear it.

I really enjoyed that a lot of Alex and Henry’s relationship developed through texting and email. I love that trope, so I was super happy to see it used in this book. I think it is just an interesting way to have characters interact.

I think the writing of this book was modern without being too much. A lot of times when authors try to write about young people in today’s world, it comes off as just too many cringey pop culture references, but I think Casey McQuiston did a really good job with making it sound realistic. The characters are in their early twenties, and I am in my mid-twenties, and I would definitely talk and act similar to these characters.

Oddly, I kind of liked the political side to this book. Normally, I want to get as far away from politics as I can. I was a little scared going into this book because it feels kind of like a world that could have been – a female president with biracial kids, openly gay politicians, ect. Honestly though, the ending left me feeling hopeful about what the world could be. The world is not like that right now, but nothing will change if we don’t have hope for the future.

Normally, I’m just in romance books for the romance, but I really enjoyed this entire story and all the pieces of it! I’m glad I saw it all over social media because this is definitely one of my favorite releases this year!

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Synopsis: While attending her sister’s wedding as the maid of honor, everyone gets food poisoning except for Olive and the best man, her arch nemesis Ethan. Not wanting to waste the ten day honeymoon that her sister had planned, Olive and Ethan go to Hawaii together and have to pretend to be a newlywed couple.

Romance, 432 pages, published May 14th, 2019

Synopsis: While attending her sister’s wedding as the maid of honor, everyone gets food poisoning except for Olive and the best man, her arch nemesis Ethan. Not wanting to waste the ten day honeymoon that her sister had planned, Olive and Ethan go to Hawaii together and have to pretend to be a newlywed couple.

NON-SPOILER REVIEW:

The cover, the synopsis, the tropes, the author, all drew me to this book. I feel like I’ve been on the Christina Lauren train lately, but I do really enjoy their books!

I thought the romance in this was super cute! I love the banter that Olive and Ethan had, and they were genuinely funny sometimes. I adore fake relationships because it is so fun to see people fake it until they either realize that they aren’t faking anymore or they don’t want to continue faking it. My favorite parts were when one of them would let slip that maybe they don’t hate each other as much as they thought they did.

I thought the plot was fine. There were some things that I thought were pretty ridiculous, like everyone getting food poisoning ( specifically that scene, not the fact that everyone got sick except for the main characters) and who they meet at the resort, but it all was fun. It didn’t go any deeper than a typical romance novel plot does, which I was prepared for and was fine with.

I really liked Olive. Everything is just going so wrong in her life, and even though everyone says she’s a pessimist, I don’t think she was as down as she could have been. I thought she was really relatable! I feel like in romance a lot, the main characters have these super flashy, ideal jobs and everything is going right for them, so it was refreshing to hear a story where that wasn’t the case.

The one thing I had any issue with was the ending. I think Christina Lauren’s books have great setup, fun characters, and steamy scenes, but they are almost always lacking in the ending for. There will be really great progression and pacing, then everything gets wrapped up so quickly and sometimes, unexpectedly. This book in particular felt really fast at the end. I would have liked more from the characters in terms of sorting out what happens in the climax. This wasn’t a huge issue, since I obviously gave the book 5 stars, but it is something that I would like to see them work on in future books.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Synopsis: Alexa and Drew get stuck in an elevator together on the eve of Drew’s ex-girlfriend’s wedding – that he might have to attend alone. By the end of their elevator experience, he has convinced Alexa to go with him to the wedding as his fake girlfriend. But what will happen when they realize their attraction isn’t fake?


Romance, 320 pages, published in 2018

Synopsis: Alexa and Drew get stuck in an elevator together on the eve of Drew’s ex-girlfriend’s wedding – that he might have to attend alone. By the end of their elevator experience, he has convinced Alexa to go with him to the wedding as his fake girlfriend. But what will happen when they realize their attraction isn’t fake?

Non-Spoiler Review:

Oh man, where do I even start with this one? It was a total impulse buy for me! The cover is exactly what usually draws me in and the description mentioned a fake relationship, which if you read my best and worst tropes post, you’d know is my absolute favorite thing. I think impulse buys can be fun, because then you don’t go in with any preconceived notions, other than what you can gather from the cover and the blurb. This could have been really great, but unfortunately, it was not.

When I started reading, I thought the book was fine, and it had room to develop, so it was feeling like a 3 star book to me. By the middle though, it was just so tedious and repetitive that it had fallen to a 2 star book. I figured I would just push through and finish it, but oh man, it dropped to a 1 star in that last section.

The aspect of this book that took me by surprise the most was the sex. I look forward to steamy scenes in adult romance, so this book was such a letdown. The descriptions were so PG. Nothing was referred to specifically and it was weird. I can understand not wanting to have explicit sex in a book, but a fade to black would have served so much better than these scenes. I wish I counted how many times there were actual sex scenes because there were so many.

My other problem with the sex was that it seemed like a substitute for an actual relationship. The sex was just so good, so there was never too much focus put on their conversations. Every time Alexa and Drew see each other, it is just a marathon of sex and food. There was really no substance to why they were interested in each other, aside from the fact that they were attracted to each other. There were times that they were trying to have a serious conversation and Drew would just get so distracted by Alexa’s boobs that he wouldn’t pay attention to what she was saying anymore. There was even a point about halfway through the book where Drew didn’t know who Alexa’s friends were because they had never talked about it. Halfway through!

This couple was so into each other that they completely forgot about or blew off their friends. They do only get to see each other once a week, but come on guys. A relationship does not get to trump every other aspect of your life. Drew’s reaction to Alexa’s friends was concerning. She has a male coworker and he is constantly jealous and not believing her when she says there is nothing between them. He even doesn’t trust her with Carlos, his friend who did his a huge favor and picked Alexa up from the airport for him. It was honestly unbearable to see him act like this.

The end of the book was just an absolute mess. There was some MAJOR miscommunication, a trope I really can’t stand. It wasn’t too surprising because they never had good communication to begin with, but it was still frustrating. At one point, Drew grabs Alexa’s hand and holds it so hard that she can’t get free, another trope I hate (thanks KDramas). There is a disagreement and it is definitely Drew’s fault, but he never really apologizes and he leaves Alexa feeling like it’s her fault. He did this a lot throughout the book, but this was by far the worst case. There was also a sex scene that I won’t spoil but it was very weird and it made me super uncomfortable.

I had some smaller issues here and there but I feel like I’ve already ranted quite enough about how much I did not care for this book. It was repetitive, boring, and honestly, just a bad book in my opinion. I know a lot of people praised it for portraying a biracial relationship, among other things, but it’s not worth it. Those small wins can not cancel out how much of a mess the rest of this book is.

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Synopsis: Evie and Carter meet at a Halloween party and immediately hit it off. Just as they are getting to know each other, their companies merge, and suddenly, they are both competing for the same position, but can their budding romance survive the competition?

Genre: Romance

Published: June 6th 2017

Pages: 350

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Evie and Carter meet at a Halloween party and immediately hit it off. Just as they are getting to know each other, their companies merge, and suddenly, they are both competing for the same position, but can their budding romance survive the competition?

Non-spoiler Review:

I haven’t decided if I like Christina Lauren’s writing yet, even after reading six books of theirs. Some of them I have loved and some I thought were just okay, and this one ended up right in the middle for me. It has been a few weeks since I finished the book, and already it has become pretty hazy in my memory, which says something.

I didn’t have a problem with either of the main characters, but they weren’t memorable or super special. Their relationship was pretty cute, but it just felt like something was missing in this story. It felt like too much of the story revolved around work. Obviously, work is an important and takes a lot of a person’s life, but it was just overwhelming in this book.

From the premise, this book can sound similar to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and while they do both have the office competition plotlines, they are fairly different stories. The biggest difference is that in The Hating Game, the characters have met at work and develop feelings after already hating each other, whereas in this book, the characters meet and develop interest in each other before meeting at work. If you want an office romance, I would definitely suggest The Hating Game over Dating You / Hating You.

There were no glaring issues with this story, but it just wasn’t very memorable. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I probably will not read it again.

Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

Synopsis: Hazel is at a party at her best friend’s house celebrating her new position as 3rd grade teacher when she runs into Josh, a college crush that she hasn’t seen in years. Hazel declares that she will become his best friend, so the pair starts to hang out and get to know each other. To help Josh get over his cheating ex-girlfriend, the two go on a series of double blind dates.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Published: September 4th, 2018

Pages: 309

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Hazel is at a party at her best friend’s house celebrating her new position as 3rd grade teacher when she runs into Josh, a college crush that she hasn’t seen in years. Hazel declares that she will become his best friend, so the pair starts to hang out and get to know each other. To help Josh get over his cheating ex-girlfriend, the two go on a series of double blind dates.

Non- Spoiler Review:

I have read multiple other books by Christina Lauren, but wow, this is one blows the others away!! I listened to the audiobook for this and normally when I’m listening to an audiobook, I’ll play a game or use a coloring app on my phone, but for this one, I was so engrossed that I just listened (until 3:30 in the morning, I might add). The concept of this book isn’t groundbreaking, but the execution was just so good. It has alternating chapters from Josh and Hazel, which I think works so well in romance because you can see the relationship from all sides. I also thought the characters were really interesting. Hazel is so unapologetically herself, from her loud outfits to her mass quantity of pets of with funky names, and I loved it! She knows who she is and she doesn’t let other people bring her down just because she’s not ‘normal’. I feel like most of the romance I’ve read, the main man is always kind of a jerk in some way or another, but Josh is just so nice in the best way. He respects people and always has Hazel’s best interest in mind. The progression of their relationship was so exciting and well timed! There was a solid foundation of friendship laid down before either had serious romantic feelings.

The side characters were fine, but I don’t really expect much from side characters in romance since I’m here for the main couple. My one complaint, if you can even call it that, was the ending. The problem they had to overcome, without saying what it is, is something I don’t personally like seeing in romance books and it felt like not enough time was really spent on the solution to that situation. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I really need to own a copy.

One other thing about this book before I get to spoilers is that Todd Haberkorn narrates Josh’s chapters and my past anime-obsessed self was screaming the whole time because he does a lot of anime voice acting and I could not get that out of my head.

SPOILERS:

The “situation” at the end that I mentioned above was Hazel’s pregnancy. I personally don’t ever want kids, so this is always a tough thing for me to relate to, especially because some authors tend to use kids as a kind of end goal for happiness in relationships. Don’t get me wrong, anyone who wants kids is completely valid, it’s just that I can’t relate. In terms of the book, I feel like Hazel’s whole bleeding dilemma wasn’t explained enough. Obviously, she was fine because of the events mentioned in the epilogue, but I felt like it was too vague about what actually happened. There was no actual resolution since the main story kind of just…ended.