Time for my first Romance Roundup of the year. I read a LOT of romance, and some of them just don’t lend themselves to lengthy enough reviews, so I prefer to condense them into one big review a month.
Snow Place Like L.A. by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone (Christmas Notch #1.5)
This novella takes place between the first 2 books of the Christmas Notch series. I enjoyed the Hell out of those so the completionist in me had to listen to the audiobook of this one. This is the only MM romance in the series so far. The Christmas Notch series revolves around Teddy Fletcher or “Uncle Ray-Ray”, a porn producer who has stumbled into the world of making legitimate Christmas movies for a Hallmark-type streaming network. The two main novels have been about the romances between the co-stars, but this novella focuses on some more behind-the-scenes characters while filming a porn version of Pretty Woman.
Angel, the lighting guy, and Luca, the costume designer, hooked up while on the set of Duke the Halls, and spent a blissful month in Christmas Notch, Vermont. When it came time to come home to L.A., Angel couldn’t find the courage to tell Luca that he had been accepted for a prestigious internship in Paris, and just got on a plane without telling him. Luca is heartbroken, thinking that Angel has cut ties with him, especially when he sees a photo on Instagram of Angel in front of The Eiffel Tower with his ex. So Luca does exactly what my crazy ass would have done, and decrees Angel dead to him and blocks him on his phone and all social media. Time goes by and the two run into each other on the set of the Pretty Woman porno. They are forced to work together and then they remember what good chemistry they had back in Vermont.
This series is absolutely ridiculous, but I love it. It is positive about sex work, the characters feel like real people, and the situations are ridiculous. I had a ball listening to it. 4 Stars
Mixed Signals by B.K. Borrison (Lovelight Farms #3)
I loved, loved, LOVED the first book in this series, but 2 was not as good, and this one was pretty forgettable. Also, I listened to the audiobook, and for some reason, they decided to give the main character a Southern accent, even though she’s not from the South. I am, and it was a cringeworthy performance, which is such a pity because I enjoyed the same narrator when she read the previous two books.
Layla Dupree has gone on a LOT of terrible dates. She is on a terrible date when her date leaves her with the check and walks out, even though he was her ride! Luckily, she is at the same bar and grill as Caleb, a regular customer at the bakery that Layla owns. Caleb gives her a ride home and laments his bad luck with dating as well. Then they decide to do a dating experiment. Caleb will treat Layla the way she should be treated, and Layla will tell Caleb what he is doing that drives away prospective girlfriends. So they are fake dating, but not? I don’t know, it was confusing. Anyway, Caleb has had a not-so-secret crush on Layla, and soon she develops feelings for him as well, and they are both just too dumb to tell each other that they are in love.
This book was just meh. There is a fourth book coming out this year, but I’m not excited for it.
Scarred by Emily McIntyre
Emily McIntyre has written a series of standalone novels where she takes fairy tale villains and makes them the morally gray protagonist. Her first novel in this series, Hooked, was actually pretty decent. That was Peter Pan, with Captain Hook as the main character. This time, she has done The Lion King, with the focus on Scar. Tristan, who is also known as “The Scarred Prince” is second in line for the throne, behind his brother, Michael Faasa. Michael is just a shitty person and ruler. He has sired a bastard (named Simon, not Simba, GET IT???), he doesn’t care about the poor on the outskirts of his country, and he’s even the one who gave Tristan his scar!!! He’s sooooooo bad!!! Our other protagonist is Sara. She has been sent to the Faasa court to marry Michael and become the Queen. She is a complete moron. She falls in love with Tristan, even knowing he’s kind of a psycho torturer. She thinks the Faasa family killed her father years ago, and she still allows Tristan to place her in all kinds of compromising situations that could ruin her opportunity for revenge.
This was my book club’s pick for January, and nobody was particularly enamored with it, so it’s not just me. The book wanted you to think of Tristan as conniving and a brilliant strategist, but he was also CONSTANTLY smoking pot. Gross. I bet he smelled bad. 2 Stars, and I only gave it that many because the sexy scenes weren’t too bad.