Book Review: Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill

Book titles that are song titles (even if unintentional) give me earworms the whole time I’m reading it. Luckily, I like the song Call Me, Maybe, and also, I finished this book in one sitting. Though the plot doesn’t seem overly exciting at first glance,  I found I couldn’t put it down.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
When the black sheep of a wealthy family accidentally picks up the wrong phone at the airport, she finds herself falling for the guy she accidentally switched with, but her past leaves her with doubts, secrets, and trust issues. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Oops…My Bad
I love stories that have the hero and heroine meeting in an unconventional way. In this case, they meet when Clementine’s brother grabs the wrong phone from the airport and she ends up with the phone of a good looking guy she tripped over in the airport. At the time they realize what happened, Clementine and Justin are going to different parts of the country for different reasons, but as luck would have it, they both live in Chicago, so the cell phone switch isn’t entirely a tragedy.


Going Viral
In the few days they have each other’s phones, Justin and Clem get to know each other…sort of. Clem isn’t entirely truthful, but she has a good reason in the beginning. Besides the fact that her family is wealthy and she gets weird reactions whenever she tells people who she is, Clem is also “on watch” by said family for an incident that involved her, an ex-boyfriend, and some nude photos that ended up on the internet years before.

Pronounced Clemen-Teen
I really wanted the phone relationship to last longer, but even when Justin and Clem got together and started a relationship in person, I enjoyed the read. Clem is the poor little rich girl who doesn’t come across as annoying. In fact, I completely empathized with her lack of direction in life. I couldn’t relate to having so much money that I could nothing if I wanted, but I could understand her conflicts.

Yay & Nay
One of my favorite aspects of Clementine is that she’s not only a reader, but she’s a book blogger/review as well, under a fake name so her family doesn’t know she’s on the internet. One of my least favorite aspects was her overbearing family and her flaky parents who dumped her and her siblings off at their grandparents when they were kids so they could go be humanity warriors in other countries. Don’t get me wrong, causes are good and all, but I can’t stand selfish parents in books or real life.


Getting to Know You
Justin is an all-around good guy with some issues of his own. Still, there were times I wondered if Clem’s paranoia was justified. It really could have gone either way, especially because the story is told completely from Clementine’s point of view. I usually prefer seeing both sides, but seeing only Clem’s thoughts worked so well in this case because seeing things through her eyes gave us a dash of mystery mixed in with the romance.

The Romance Factor
Though Justin is sometimes a little too good to be true, he’s the kind of hero that makes women swoon. He’s kind and sweet to Clementine. He’s also very touchy feely, which works well for the story since Clementine seems to like to be touched. Or at least she doesn’t mind it. I enjoyed their dialogue and interactions, and though there weren’t as many feels in this one, there were definitely some cute moments. 4/5

The Steam Factor
This was more of a fun romantic comedy than anything spicy, and there were no steamy sex scenes (except for one warmish phone sex scene). There was some making out and kissing to lead in to what was going to happen, but it was all closed door. Which actually worked really well for this book. I think a lot of detailed sex would have taken away from the fun vibe of the story. 2/5

Final Thoughts
This was a fun book to read and I really enjoyed it. Also, even though the characters get their happily ever after, the ending doesn’t completely follow the normal formula. I don’t want to give it away, but I will say that the ending does a great job of leaving things open ended, either for another book or for readers just to let their imaginations run a little wild.

Breaking a Legend by Sarah Robinson

I’m coming out of a pretty intense bout of reading, which means I have quite a bit of updating on the blog to do. Luckily, I’ve had the chance to read some great books, including this one, and I’m ahead on posts. This is good, because I have some commitments coming up that might derail both for a short time (oh the horror).


I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A famous MMA fighter finds himself using drugs and alcohol to soothe an injury that ended his career, but when he meets a newcomer to the area, he finds she’s all the excuse he needs to turn things around. For a fully synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
One of the first things I said to my husband about this book was that I hoped it was going to be good because the main family, the Kavanaghs, charmed me from the beginning. This Irish family who owns a gym dedicated to MMA fighting was great: close knit, traditional in some ways, yet quirky. Each member had something interesting about them. It’s not often a family in a book series pulls me in, but I kind of loved them right away.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I was a little torn on Clare’s character. She was trying to build her life after an abusive relationship, so I wasn’t sure how realistic it felt that she was so willing to trust Rory when she hadn’t known him that long. At the same time, she was aware of this, and the fact that she was doing what she could to not be afraid added to the likability of her character.

One of the things I notice right away in contemporary fiction is when characters don’t use condoms. Most times I figure it’s just part of the fantasy and the author wanted to write a world where that stuff doesn’t figure in. Usually, I can accept it. However, after they have sex twice, Rory asks if she’s on the pill. So not only do two strangers assume the other has no STDs, but accidental pregnancy is only a concern after the second horizontal mambo.

confused jack

The Romance Factor
I was a little nervous about this couple at first. With Clare’s quick trust of Rory and Rory’s addictions, I wasn’t sure how romantic they were actually going to be. By the end, I was pleasantly surprised. Rory knows from the beginning that he wants more with Clare, and her influence helps him recover. Clare has a bit of a damsel in distress thing going on, and though he has a rough persona, Rory is one of those guys who’s bad ass on the outside and squishy on the inside. 4/5

The Steam Factor
For the most part, the sexy times were really sexy. I especially enjoyed the sleepover in one of the fighting rings. The only thing that was a little weird for me was that when Clare and Rory first started getting close, she talked about how he smelled like alcohol because he’d drank so much, and even when he was detoxing, she could smell it. This was a little gross to me, but in all honesty, that’s probably for personal reasons and not so much the story. 4/5


Final Thoughts
Despite the gifs, I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and kept me engaged. I can’t wait to read the next one in this series.

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare

This is the second book in the Castles Ever After series, which started with Romance the Duke. I enjoyed the first one, but this one blew it out of the water. Just to be on the safe side, I want to give a trigger warning. There are topics of disordered eating and weight loss pressure. Though I thought this was handled well in the context of the story, it might possibly be a trigger for anyone dealing with related issues.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A man who has turned his back on society to be a fighter has to convince his brother’s fiance to stay engaged so that he can continue fighting while his brother takes over lordly duties. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
Clio is awesome as a lady who has decided she wants her independence after the man she agreed to marry has left her alone for 8 years. Now that she’s inherited a castle, she has the means to do so…as long as her fiance’s brother will sign the papers needed to make it so. I loved her determination and the fact that she never once thought she needed to be married to be successful. Oh, and she wants to run a brewery! How awesome is that?

Leslie Knope - Winning

There were some great scenes with her and Rafe, including a wedding cake food fight that cracked me up. I liked the playfulness of Clio’s character against the hard ass nature of Rafe’s.

I loved Clio’s younger sister, and I thought that her having Aspberger’s (not named in the book, but described as such) added an interesting element to story. There was definitely a theme of self acceptance and loving people for who they are, and this tied into a strong message of body positivity.

The Romance Factor
I had all the feels for Rafe, who knew he couldn’t take his brother’s fiance. It was like a story of impossible love, even though I knew it would end well for the couple. Still…feels. 5/5

The Steam Factor
There is a scene where Rafe barely touches Clio, knowing he can’t, and instead stands close to her and tells her all the things he fantasizes about doing with her. For a scene that had no actual sex, it was very erotic and very sensual. The other steamy scenes were just as good, but that scene alone boosts this factor to a 6/5.


Final Thoughts
The 3rd one in this series just came out, and I’m 4th on the waiting list at the library. I can’t wait to read it. If the rest of the books are as good as this one, it might be another series I try to collect.

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

After reading some very blatantly erotic contemporary romances, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this historical one. The premise had interested me when the ladies on Dear Bitches, Smart Authors discussed it, even though it didn’t really push any of my trope buttons.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A widow desperate to keep her estate from her brother-in-law schemes to produce an heir by propositioning her neighbor to assist her in her mission. For the full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
The romance in this book was such a slow burn, but it was so worth it.

Martha is as proper as they come when it comes to men, but she also has the best of intentions for those who live in her area, wanting to start a school for the poorer children who leave there. She also wants to keep her house staff from being victimized by her brother-in-law, who is well known for having ruined two young women years before.

Theo, the man she propositions to have sex with her once a day in hopes of conceiving and passing off the child as her late husband’s heir, comes from the city and has no sense of responsibility, yet when he’s faced with the problems in the small country area he’s been shipped to by his father, he starts to mature and realize there’s more to life than going through life in a lazy way.


What I loved is that these two characters had their own stories that just happened to intertwine with each other. Their relationship developed slowly, going from a business arrangement, to a friendship, to love. And while their relationship is changing, so are their outlooks on life and how they look at themselves.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I was not prepared for how uncomfortable Martha and Theo’s first encounters would be to read. Martha is stoic, taking no pleasure in the act, as for her it’s only a business arrangement. Theo is able to take only the pleasure in the physical release, but he struggles at first, having a hard time working with a partner who is so unwilling.

This wasn’t rape, as it was purely consensual, but it made me sad that Martha didn’t feel she could enjoy sex under any circumstances, and her stubbornness was hard to take at times. Though she accommodated Theo when he asked her to do something to help the process, she had this wall that she just wouldn’t let him penetrate (no pun intended).

The Romance Factor
There was little romance at the beginning of the book, and I spent a good amount of time just waiting for it to happen. When it did, it was amazing. The moment Martha lets herself feel something for Theo was sensual and exciting and it changed the whole tone of the book. From there, it just got better and it pushed all my buttons. The fact that their agreement was only for 30 days led to the angst and sadness of two people who have different priorities and can’t seem to figure out how to be together. 5/5.


The Steam Factor
Like the romance, the sexiness was non-existent through the first half of the book. Once the characters broke that barrier, though, the heat and sensuality shot up about ten levels. It wasn’t as descriptive or graphic as other novels I’ve read, but it was definitely hot, and the way Theo talks to Martha is highly erotic. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Despite the discomfort at the beginning, this book was good. There were times I wanted to cry for both characters. I also liked the connections the author made between other characters in the story and how she connected the past with the present. This was very well written and an example of a non-traditional romance that was still an amazing read.

Goodreads Review: Laid Out by Sidney Halston

My last review coincided with me getting ready to attend a spring outdoors camping weekend, and this one is being written as I sit at home recovering from said weekend. While it was quite a bit of fun, there were also some challenges that I need to work through before I do this again. However, I did learn the joys of archery, and hopefully by the time this publishes, that will be a thing I’m doing. Speaking of sporty type things, I’ve found a new love for sports related romances. This one includes MMA fighting, though mostly in passing. I liked this book…high angsty love drama for the win! The book is scheduled to release on August 18th. 

Laid Out (Worth the Fight, #4)Laid Out by Sidney Halston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cain and Violet were best friends growing up. As adults, they’re still friends, but things have changed. Cain, who has always been in love with Violet, can’t bring himself to pursue a relationship with her because of his guilt regarding their other childhood friend and Violet’s fiance, who died in the service. Violet can’t bring herself to date due to a lack of confidence brought about by a strict and critical father. When Cain decides to help her become more confident, he promises he can do it without ruining their friendship.

I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to like this book, especially because there are parts of each character that are really not likeable. However, it turned out to be enjoyable and a good standalone story (even though its part of a series).

The plot used a few different tropes, including military man, girl with confidence issues, and friends to lovers, but whereas in a lot of stories the tropes are fairly straightforward, these ones had layers, so the plot felt intricate and fleshed out. There was conflict coming from several directions, so the resolution didn’t feel easy and the angst level, especially for Cain, was really high.

There was one plot point I would have liked to see developed further, and that was Cain’s MMA fighting. It was mostly talked about it narrative. There were a few fight scenes when Cain was fighting for scary Russians, but those felt like teasers. Also, movies and books have taught me that you generally don’t start doing stuff for the Russian mob and then just stop whenever you want. Maybe they weren’t really the mob, and maybe that’s reality and Hollywood biffed it again, but it felt like the story started down one path and then detoured without looking back.

Cain and Violet are interesting characters who I sort of liked but who also irked me. Violet had body confidence issues and was slightly obsessed with thinking she was fat (she was a curvy character). There was a lot of negative self talk, even though she was contradictory and often said that she really liked and accepted who she was when clearly she didn’t.

Cain is actually a major jerk through most of the book. His mood changes frequently and he goes from being sweet and affectionate with Violet to ignoring her completely. I felt that she took a lot of emotional abuse from him and kept coming back for more. As the reader, I likes that the author switched points of view, because knowing Cain’s thought processes actually helped in dealing with this character. Also, he decides that after Violet can get naked in front of him without feeling embarrassed, she’s obviously ready to date. This drove me nuts because yeah, I get he was trying to teach her self confidence, but dude…just because she can get naked in front of one guy doesn’t mean she’s ready to take it full monty everywhere she goes.

I think what made me enjoy this book overall was that it was so much romantic angst (unrequited love was another trope), and though I’m not always a fan, I really liked it as part of this story. The Romance Factor is a strong 5/5 for that reason and because for all his flaws, I could buy how much Cain adored Violet. The Sex Factor also gets a 5/5 because the sexy times were intense and sweet and were paced well so that they didn’t take up half the story but made an impact when the did come into play.

The book was technically well written, though this arc had several minor errors in wording and grammar, including a random switch from 3rd to 1st person POV. I’m assuming those will get ironed out before publishing. Overall, this was a pleasant surprise and was hard to put down, especially at the end. I’d definitely read more from this author and might look into some other MMA novels as well.

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Wicked Fall by Sawyer Bennett

It’s safe to say that Sawyer Bennett does not shy away from all things sex. In fact, this book is all about sex. A secret sex club, in fact, with a country western bar as front. Talk about a fun read…but definitely a steamy one, so proceed with caution should you want to read this in public.

Wicked Fall

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
The owner of a secret sex club likes to play it loose and dirty until his high school friend’s sister, who he had a thing for, comes back to town after breaking up with her fiance. The full synopsis can be found at this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
There is a good balance between sex and romance in this book, even though I think the book was about 80% sexy times, and ones meant to push the envelope on steaminess. This book is definitely contemporary erotica, and it’s very sex positive. Woolf allows Callie to explore her curiosities without pushing her or making her uncomfortable, and taking the time to talk to her about things after a particularly exploratory scene involving Woolf’s best friend.

Blanche aroused

Also, the general theme of the story is safe, consensual, fun sex, even if it’s kinky, and I really liked that in this world, there were couples who engaged in these activities and were comfortable doing so, the experimentation helping to strengthen their own relationship. Yay for sex positivity!

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
The only issue I took with Woolf’s attitude towards Callie was that he “knew” this lifestyle wasn’t for her. He’s definitely an alpha male, so I guess it was to be expected. It didn’t detract from his character, as it was part of who he was, and overall, I really liked him as the hero. But part of me wanted Callie to be like, “Let’s do that again!”


The Romance Factor
While only slightly angsty, I really loved the way Woolf handled Callie when showing her his world, and though most of their interactions were hot and dirty, there were some very sweet moments, too. 4/5 RF

The Steam Factor
I don’t know if I’ve done this before, but this book is getting a major 6/5 on the SF scale. The world this is set in explores all sorts of kinks and the author doesn’t hold back the detail, using all of the senses to let the reader know what’s going on. If you’re not used to a high level of sex in books, you might want to work up to this one.

Final Thoughts
I think Bennett is going to deliver another hot and fun series, and I can’t wait to read the next book, which is introduced in the epilogue of this one in a scene that I found to be strangely hilarious and enticing.

Jane by April Lindner

A few years ago, I read Jane Eyre and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it, not having been a huge reader of the classics (sorry, not sorry). So when this modern retelling came out, I snagged it. I love retellings, remakes, and reboots, and I was intrigued. However, I got sidetracked and never got around to reading it.

Fast forward to this past week when I’m trying to pare down my Goodreads To-Read list, and I decided to knock this one out. It started out slow, and I took a break to finish a couple other ones. But when I came back to it, I couldn’t put it down.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A plain young woman takes a nanny job for an eccentric rock star and falls in love with him while also wondering about the strange sounds coming from the third floor of his estate. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
It’s hard to put my finger on why I enjoyed this book so much and why even a couple days after finishing it, it’s sticking with me. The trope is enjoyable to me: plain young woman, worldly older man, unrequited love that isn’t actually unrequited. It just pushes all my right buttons.

Eyre Transfixed

I also liked the fact that the tone and cadence of this story was reminiscent of the original. It felt old-fashioned and classic, even though it was definitely modern day and people had cell phones. You would think this would be jarring, and based on some other reviews I read, other readers found it so. But I loved it. It felt haunting and gothic, with a dash of contemporary.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
This book is giving me some weird feels in that I can pick out things I should absolutely hate about the characters, and yet I still loved them. For instance, Nico is kind of a dick. He plays with Jane’s emotions by trying to make her jealous, orders her to be around him and his friends when she’s clearly uncomfortable being around people, and makes it blatantly obvious that he’s keeping secrets from her. And let’s not forget his big crazy secret about what’s going on on the 3rd floor. I mean, the guy flat out lies to Jane when she asks him about his ex-wife.

confused jack

Jane is mostly likable. She’s sweet and kind. She’s had a rough childhood and is still not on good terms with her siblings (who are horrible people). But she sort of just lets Nico get away with not telling her his secrets…until she runs away and lets everyone think that something tragic happened to her. Her angst and shock at what she finds out is understandable, but I had a hard time buying the fact that even though she got rid of her phone and refused to buy magazines and didn’t watch TV while she was hiding out that she would have absolutely no idea of what was happening with Nico.

The Romance Factor
Apparently this trope was strong enough for me to overlook the character flaws because I loved this romance. I loved the slow lead up to it and all the drama afterwards. I love that these two are broken in their own ways, yet somehow sense that and find a connection that bonds them. When Nico tells Jane he’s in love with her, I melted, because the way the words were delivered and the whole scene was filled with a quiet, powerful emotion. 5/5 RF.

The Steam Factor
There were a few sensual moments between Nico and Jane, but there were no really steamy scenes, so we’ll give it a 2/5 for the sensuality.

Final Thoughts
Even with the problems I had in the characters, I had to give this one 5-stars on Goodreads because it just hit me in all the right places. The story was a sweet retelling and the writing flowed well. This one is going to be a keeper, and now I need to watch both movie versions on Netflix, because I really want to stay in this world a little longer.

What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale

This was another DBSA podcast find. Those people know their romance books. This book was amazing…but first…

Trigger warning: This book has detailed descriptions of a rape, and rape is a prevalent theme throughout. Those who find this hard to read will want to avoid this one.

This was the third book in a trilogy by Maya Rodale, but it can be read as a standalone.

What a Wallflower Wants

One-Sentence Synopsis
After being compromised against her will, a young woman believes her dreams of love and marriage are finished, but a handsome and mysterious man wants to show her that she can still have those things…preferably with him. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
Where do I even start? This book was amazing from start to finish, and not just because the romance was one of the best I’ve ever read. This book was amazing because it handled a hard subject like rape in a way that didn’t shy away from what it was while still being tactful. It highlighted the possibility of finding happiness after a traumatic event, so though sad, it was also hopeful.

It was also relevant to how things are today. While people might not think there are a lot of similarities between current culture and those found in historical romances, the author has drawn attention to the parallel of women being expected to act a certain way and being shunned when they don’t, even if it puts them in danger. It highlights the polite way in which women are supposed to act, and it brings in the shame that a woman faces from society, even if she’s not at fault and her rapist has ruined her. How have we not made more progress in this area?

The Romance Factor
5/5 all the way on the Romance Factor. John, the hero, is fantastic and kind and patient. He’s intrigued by Prudence from the first time he meets her and quickly falls in love with her. He catches on quickly that something isn’t right, and the way he handles it…best hero ever.


Prudence is frightened of men in general, but she starts to trust John and eventually tells him the story she hasn’t shared with anyone else, not even her best friends. Not once does John try to “claim” her as his or try to avert authority. Instead, he goes slow, putting her needs before his and saving her when she’s almost attacked again. He’s written in a way that the reader never doubts how much he feels for her. So many feels…oh, so many.

The Steam Factor
Another 5/5, because while there aren’t very many (happy) sex scenes, the first intimacy Prudence and John have is one of the most steamy and sensual scenes ever…and they don’t even touch each other.

Hot Hiddleston

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
As far as the story goes, I have no complaints. I loved the whole thing. What was a little weird about this book was the use of text to convey certain emotions. It didn’t happen a lot, but in a few instances, the author uses all caps to convey the manner in which something is said. The thing that really cracked me up was the actual use of a strikethrough. I wasn’t mad about this. If anything, I kind of like the idea of using things like that to convey a mood or tone. So as far as anything goes, I don’t have any complaints, I just thought that was an interesting characteristic of Maya Rodale’s writing.

Final Thoughts
I’m afraid to read the first two books in the series because I’m worried they won’t hold up to this one. I mean, I’m going to, but I’m prepared to realize that this book set a really high bar. Not only did Rodale tell a beautiful romance story, she also worked it around a tragic event and she did it with tact and care and an honesty that, while difficult at times to read, made the quality of the book that much higher.

Goodreads Review: Adapted for Film by Stacey Rourke

I have two other blog drafts waiting in the wings, but they’re not quite polished and one is a little bit heavy, so I’ve been sticking to book reviews, which are way more fun. Plus, I’ve been embracing the fact that I’m an unashamed romance reader. This was a quick read and a good palate cleanser from some of the heavier/steamier books I’ve been reading lately. It’s fun but not super scandalous. 

Adapted For FilmAdapted For Film by Stacey Rourke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aubrey Evans is on set for the making of the movie based on her romance novel, but she finds herself clashing with the director, Kole Camden. Though they manage to put their differences aside, the studio thinks that the best way to avoid the bad press that has already leaked is to manufacture a relationship between Audrey and the actor playing the lead role, Greyson Meyers. While it seems innocent at first, Aubrey is unable to stop the studio from taking it to further levels, and things get only more complicated when she realizes that though Greyson is hot and fairly unrelenting of his flirting, there’s something brewing between her and Kole.

The plot was your typical, fluffy romantic comedy and made for a perfect popcorn read. It didn’t drag at all. On the contrary, the clever dialogue kept the story going. I don’t think I’ve read the author/director/actor triangle before, so that part was fresh, but part of my love for romantic comedies is the comfort of familiarity and the promise of a happy ending.

Rourke’s characters in this book were fun and quirky. Aubrey is icy but clever and snarky. I love snark. Kole is funny but strangely awkward. There’s one scene in which he admits his jokes don’t always work out (it’s a funny scene involving a feather duster) and he endeared himself to me. Greyson is over the top flirty but somehow he never gets annoying. My favorite though was Mateo, the Cuban hip-hop star playing one of side characters in the movie. He reminded me of Pit Bull and cracked me up.

The Romance Factor was there, but it was fairly light. There wasn’t a lot of foreplay between the main characters. Even they don’t seem to realize there’s something there until later in the book. At the same time, because I knew there was romance waiting in the wings, it still read like a romantic comedy.

The Sex Factor was super low. The book is easily PG with one scene maybe edging up to PG-13. Maybe. I like some steam, but it’s not a deal breaker, so those romance readers who aren’t so much into the dirty stuff are likely to appreciate the tame nature of this one.

This was a fun, well-written read that gives me faith I’ll enjoy the other books by this author. If she comes out with any other rom-coms, I’m pretty sure I’ll be grabbing them. Now I just need to get in the mindset to read her other series.

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