Here are some 2023 reviews that I didn’t manage to get out before the deadline:
Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver
Sloane is just your average, everyday woman who just so happens to enjoy murdering serial killers and posing them in grisly tableaus as a hobby. Who can’t relate? One day, she is accidentally trapped by a killer she has just murdered and is worried she is going to starve to death when she is saved by Rowan, an everyday man who also just so happens to enjoy murdering serial killers. He is in awe that he gets to meet the famous “Orb Weaver”, and she becomes entranced by the “Boston Butcher”. They go on to form a friendship and start a yearly murder competition. Rowan’s brother, an assassin, gives them a city and they have to find the target and kill it first. The book spans several years of this contest, and eventually, the main characters fall in love. It should be dark and fucked up, and it is, but it is also one of the sweetest romance books I have ever read.
I have never been a dark romance girly. I prefer my love interests to be sweet, like my husband, but DAMN this book grabbed me by the….lady bits…and didn’t let go! Also, listen to this as an audiobook. I beg you! It will alter your brain chemistry, it’s so good! FINALLY true duet narration! The Irish accent will melt your….brain….yeah, your brain. 5 Stars
Hooked by Emily McIntire
James is a mob boss also known as “Hook” because he uses a hook knife to cut people who have pissed him off. He has only ever wanted revenge on Peter Michaels for killing his parents, so when Peter’s daughter Wendy walks into his club, James can’t wait to seduce and ruin her. Wendy is a Virgin. That is her main character trait. She is the most naive Virgin who ever lived. She falls in love with James because nobody has ever really shown her affection, and she continues to love him because….reasons? Seriously, it makes no damn sense.
This is the first in Emily McIntire’s Never After series of dark fairy tale retellings, and I have to say, Katee Robert did it better in her Wicked Villains series. This was not bad, but it wasn’t as good as BookTok led me to believe. At least the smut was decent. 3 Stars.
Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison
And now for something completely different. Lovelight Farms is the story of Stella, a woman who owns a failing Christmas Tree farm. She is so desperate for it to succeed that she enters a social media contest, stating that she and her boyfriend own the farm together. But wait, she doesn’t have a boyfriend! Whatever shall she do? Enter long-term best friend (and secret crush), Luka, and a fake-dating scenario ensues. Will they have to practice kissing so they can look like a convincing couple? Will they catch real feelings along the way?
This book was adorable. I love a good “friends to lovers” story, even when the main characters are as clueless as these two. The third-act breakup made me want to shake Stella. Seriously, girl, he loves you! You dumb! 5 Stars.
In the Weeds by B.K. Borison
Second in the Lovelight Farms series, this is the story of Evelyn St. James, the social media influencer from the first book, and Beckett Porter, the grumpy farm manager. Evelyn needs a break from being an Instagram icon and remembers the last place she was happy: Lovelight Farms. So she decides to take an impromptu vacation. Unfortunately, the inn is booked up, but there is a spare room at the farm. In Beckett’s house. Beckett. The guy she had a two-night stand with six months before book 1. That won’t be awkward at all! They aren’t both still hung up on their fling, and they definitely don’t want to continue it!
I didn’t love this book as much as the first one, but it was still a cute read. Beckett was a great MMC. His anti-social behavior is explained by his tendency to be overwhelmed by stimulation. I feel that he was coded as Autistic. 4 Stars.
All In by Sara Cate
This is a novella set Five Years after the end of Give Me More. In Give Me More, Isabel and Hunter are married, and Hunter wants to watch Isabel sleep with his best friend, Drake. Before long, Hunter realizes he wants Drake too and they become a couple. At the start of All In, the thruple is married and has three children. They leave the kids with some friends and take a trip to where their relationship started, Las Vegas. Isabel is worried that former fuckboi Drake is resenting being in a committed relationship because he has been acting weird. But it turns out that he was planning a romantic surprise for Isabel and Hunter. It was a very cute story about my favorite thruple. 5 Stars.
Pucking Ever After, Vol. 2 by Emily Rath
Emily Rath has blessed us with another series of stories set in the world of Pucking Around. We get a story of what really happened after Caleb sang “Beggin” to Rachel at karaoke night. We get some heartfelt childbirth and baby stories. The best story is what happens when Ilmari takes Caleb to the dentist and Caleb has to be put under. While coming out of the haze of the drugs, he confesses his unrequited love to Ilmari. Ilmari blames it all on the drugs and blows it off. The next day, when Ilmari is acting weird around him, Caleb returns to the dentist’s office to find out what the Hell he said. Eventually, Ilmari realizes that Caleb was sincere and that he returns the feelings. They then have the DIRTIEST sex scene I have ever read. Seriously. So much ejaculate. But I’m happy for them. I just love the world Emily Rath has built for these characters. 5 Stars.
Same Time Next Year by Tessa Bailey
Britta has worked forever at the same crappy sports bar. On New Year’s Eve, her half-brother’s hockey team is there celebrating a recent win. The party stops soon though, because star player Sumner’s work visa is about to expire and he will be sent back to Canada. If only there were someone who could marry him to keep him in the country? Britta agrees, but only because Sumner gives her enough money to become a part-owner of the sports bar she thinks of as a second home. Also, Sumner has had a long-term not-so-secret crush on Britta, but they can totally keep this relationship platonic, right???
This was completely predictable, but also a lot of spicy fun. In my eyes, Tessa Bailey can do no wrong. 4 Stars.