Remember how I predicted that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with posting a wrap-up every month? I know myself and I know my limitations. But even three months late is better than never…right?
February was great in terms of how many books I was able to get to, but it wasn’t that great of a month in terms of my enthusiasm for anything that I read. I definitely enjoyed most of what I read that month but I didn’t feel that excited for anything, nor did anything really blow me out of the water.
Full disclosure: This wrap-up does not include any books I read that were written by DI. Given the information that has come to light about DI’s actions, I am no longer supporting her or her books and have removed my reviews.
- Lots of cute rom-coms like Meet Me in the Margins, A Brush with Love, Mr. Wrong Number, and Accidentally Engaged, but none that really stood out.
- There Are No Saints took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to enjoy this dark romance as much as I did.
- The best book I read in February was The Names They Gave Us. I didn’t enjoy it per se (it really gutted me), but it really stuck with me and I’m glad I read it.
Mafia Darling (Kings of Italy, #2) by Mila Finelli | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Mafia Darling was a bit of a let down from the first book; I still really enjoyed it and thought that it was a super fun read, but it was missing a lot of the spark and elements that made the first book SO special and compelling. In the first book, Francesca and Fausto were both such fascinating characters and part of their chemistry was in how hard-headed the two were. In Mafia Mistress, Francesca, for as stubborn as she was, was still relatively reasonable and sensible, even if her first instinct was to disobey.
By contrast, I was so frustrated by her in Mafia Darling. Francesca pushed back on every little thing, despite her pushback not always making sense. I love her fire and her spark but I wish it hadn’t come at the expense of her common sense and reasonableness in this second book.
I’ve seen some folks saying they didn’t like Fausto as much in this book and while I loved him in the first, I actually liked the somewhat softer side of him.
I also thought that the third act of the book felt rushed and that we didn’t get much closure on certain things. It seems like she might be setting things up for more, but in that case why make it a duet? By calling it a duet, she created an expectation of finality—at least insofar as Fausto and Francesca’s story is concerned.
Still, my issues with Francesca and the pacing aside, I still enjoyed myself and this book and was excited to get to revisit this world again.
The Dare by Harley LaRoux | no rating
While the contents of the story weren’t necessarily my cup of tea, this was actually a great novella. For such a short story, the author did a great job at giving us a sense of the characters, the backstory, their complicated dynamic. And for as uncomfortable as the scenarios were, it was clear that Jessica was in control, that Manson was technically the dominant but was respectful of consent and safe words. I don’t think I’ve read that many stories where kink is explored like this so my opinion is admittedly uninformed—take it with a grain of salt—but I thought this was a well done novella that delivered exactly what it promised, and then some.
Read the CWs and make sure you have an idea of what you’re getting into. This isn’t for everyone and I also think the author did a great job at preparing readers with the author’s note and CWs.
I don’t feel comfortable rating this because I just wasn’t the right audience for the actual content of the book and I knew that going in. And it doesn’t feel right to rate it because of that. But I will say that if the premise intrigues you and/or you’re comfortable with the content, this is certainly worth a read.
Update as of May 2022: I’ve heard that the author is turning this into a full-length book and is going to be expanding on it! I’m definitely intrigued.
Halloween Haunt by Harley LaRoux | no rating
Honestly, this series is so hot it’s unreal.
Something Fabulous* by Alexis Hall | ☆ ☆ ½
I’m still so bummed I didn’t like Something Fabulous more. Find my full review here.
If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be, #1) by Julie Murphy | ☆ ☆ ☆
This was a retelling set on a Bachelor-esque type show featuring a fat FMC. This should have been a home run for me but unfortunately it fell flat. Find my full review here.
The Protégé by Brianna Hale | ☆ ☆ ½
The Protégé was fine, but I was expecting something faster paced and more engaging because of its relatively short length. Also, every time I started to vibe a bit with their relationship, the story would jump back in time and I’d be reminded that for 10 years, he basically raised her. Sooo, yeah, kind of ruined it for me. But I also don’t know what I was expecting, so that’s on me a little.
I enjoyed parts of this book enough to finish it and could’ve seen myself really enjoying it had the entire book been as engaging as the few parts I liked
Scream for Us / Melt for Us by Molly Doyle | no rating
I’d heard about this duet on TikTok and yeah, it was spicy and out there, but it was also so ridiculous that it wasn’t hot and was just kind of funny.
Meet Me in the Margins* by Melissa Ferguson | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
A sweet, fast-paced, and funny rom-com set in the publishing industry. Find my full review here.
Winning Mr. Wrong by C.W. Farnsworth | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Winning Mr. Wrong was so much fun and exactly what I needed—something light, fast-paced, funny, and romantic. I’m also going to need all of my romances set on reality dating shows to be dual POV now because wow, it makes such a difference. I loved getting both of their perspectives!
With hilarious banter and chemistry, Winning Mr. Wrong is a fun rom-com that’s easy to fly through. My two complaints, and the reason for a four-star rating, are: (1) I really liked Embry except for her whole “I’m not like other girls” attitude and superiority, hard pass; and (2) MISCOMMUNICATION IS THE WORST TROPE.
Still, those issues aside, I didn’t want this to end!
How to Catch a Queen* by Alyssa Cole | ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
Cole is a must-read author for anyone who loves royal romances. Find my full review here.
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
I know that without a doubt, I would’ve never picked this book up had Abbi not chosen it for me for the 12 in 12 challenge (I asked 12 friends to pick 12 books for me to read this year). It was emotional, raw, heartbreaking and it gutted me but it was also deeply restorative. As someone who is not at all religious, I was admittedly very skeptical when I learned that the main character was very religious, but Emery Lord handled the subject with such honesty and authenticity. This book was beautiful.
Come to Daddy by Rebel Carter | ☆ ☆
Look, after being gutted by The Names They Gave Us, I needed a change of pace. That’s all I can really say about this one.
Electric Idol* (Dark Olympus, #2) by Katee Robert | ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
I think I keep trying to convince myself that I like this series more than I actually do? I initially gave this 4 stars but upon further review, it might be closer to 3.5. Find my full review here.
A Brush with Love* by Mazey Eddings | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
A delightful debut! I’m very excited for Mazey’s next book. Find my full review here.
Take It by Shae Sanders | ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
Short, spicy, and hilarious—we love to see it.
Accidentally Engaged* by Farah Heron | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I am so mad at myself that it took me so long to read Accidentally Engaged! Find my full review here.
Mr. Wrong Number* by Lynn Painter | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I wanted to love this one so much more than I did. I still really enjoyed it but maybe I hyped it up too much in my head? In any case, this had all the makings of a book I thought I would adore but it felt too underdeveloped. Find my full review here.
Twisted Emotions (The Camorra Chronicles, #2) by Cora Reilly | ☆ ☆ ☆
So I’ll start by saying that Cora Reilly’s books are never amazing but they’re enjoyable enough and they get the job done when I’m looking for mafia romance. She was a go-to author for me when I wanted something fun, fast-paced, and dark but not too dark. I say “was” because she recently released a blurb for her new book that contained some very ableist language and was pretty harmful. Rather than listen to the genuine comments and feedback from folks, she decided to play the victim card and pulled the book. TL;DR: She didn’t handle the situation well and I’ll no longer be reading her books unless and until I see a real change in perspective and behavior.
Brutal Prince (Brutal Birthright, #1) by Sophie Lark | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Such a fun mafia romance. I absolutely adored both Aida and Callum, but especially Aida, and I appreciated the humor woven throughout, which really helped it feel like a more balanced story, as compared to so many others that can oftentimes feel too dark or too serious.
Aida and Callum’s chemistry was obvious, but their actual love and the emotional side was underdeveloped. Additionally, the last third or so of the book felt rushed and it seemed odd that one of the biggest threats of the book was resolved off screen. Still, such an addictive story and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
Stolen Heir (Brutal Birthright, #2) by Sophie Lark | ☆ ☆ ☆
This was fine; entertaining enough but definitely not as strong as the first book, in my opinion. I feel like all of the romances are a bit underdeveloped in this series but I enjoy the author’s voice so much that I’m willing to overlook it a bit more.
Broken Vow (Brutal Birthright, #5) by Sophie Lark | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I think I just can’t read romances with MCs that are lawyers. It’s too hard for me to not nitpick the little details.
There Are No Saints (Sinners, #1) by Sophie Lark | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
This was so messed up but I couldn’t put it down. I’m not wild about the author’s writing (and the overuse of all caps), but she can write one hell of a compelling story. WOW.
Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2) by Shelby Mahurin | ☆ ½
What a let down after loving the first book in this series so much! I don’t even think I’m going to continue and finish it.
Barbarian Alien (Ice Planet Barbarians, #2) by Ruby Dixon | ☆ ☆ ☆
I really like Liz and her and Raahosh are very cute, but this book just got kind of boring towards the end. I lost steam. Still, these are fun so I’ll probably keep going!
*Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a gifted copy or e-galley of this book in exchange for my honest review. This has not impacted my review or opinion in any way; all opinions are my own.
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