Welcome to Romances of the Month! This is a monthly blog that offers a round-up of a couple of romance books that I've read for the month, and where I will also share my reviews of each book!
Make Up Break Up Lily Menon
Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.” High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful—and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy. Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile—and monumentally more successful—didn’t already make her stomach churn. As the two rival app developers clash again and again—and again—Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?
So I've come to the realization that I'm not a fan of the workplace enemies-to-lovers trope. The last few books I read that featured this trope were just okay reads as I felt slightly annoyed by the characters and their supposed "rivalry/hate." With Make Up Break Up it was a pretty quick and easy read. I thought the premise sounded very interesting and there was so much potential with this book. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly deliver on what I was hoping for. I loved the tech setting and seeing Annika and her best friend, June, working in the tech field. I enjoyed learning all the tech stuff and really appreciated seeing women and women of color represented in tech. It was truly wonderful seeing their passion and determination in developing their app and getting it launched. However, I couldn't connect with either Annika or Hudson. I found Annika to be a really frustrating character. I thought Annika was way too tough on Hudson and came off as a bit immature as she took things to an extreme whenever Hudson was involved. Hudson had explained to her what happened, so it didn't make sense for her continued anger, and it seemed like she was just wanted to keep hating him. With the romance, I didn't really consider it an enemies-to-lovers as it was really just a one-sided hate from Annika. Hudson's feelings towards Annika were pretty obvious from the start, but because of Annika's animosity towards him I couldn't connect with their romance. I wished we had Hudson's POV as it would have helped get a better connection to him and strengthen the romance. In the end, Make Up Break Up was just a decent read for me.
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟
Sweethand N.G. Peltier
After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry, and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry chef business. When Cherisse’s younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying. Cherisse tries to humour her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. Turns out for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister, and he’s the best man to her maid of honour. Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together. When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day, without this turning into a recipe for disaster.
First, I loved the cover for Sweethand! The illustration was absolutely cute and charming, I couldn't resist picking it up! After reading Sweethand, I do think the book cover illustration perfectly captured Cherisse and Keiran. Peltier wrote two wonderful lead characters. I loved the passion both of them had for their respective careers. The descriptions of Cherisse's desserts were truly mouth-watering and left me craving some sweets! Going behind the scenes with Keiran and seeing his process of making music was lots of fun. Of the two, I have to say that Keiran was my favorite as he was just an all-around good guy. I really liked that Keiran was such a sensitive person and wasn't afraid to share his emotions, which was refreshing to see in a male character. The inclusion and the way Keiran's bisexuality was discussed and handled throughout the book was done wonderfully. I loved the bi-identity representation and how Keiran's bisexuality wasn't forgotten because he was in a relationship with Cherisse. I thought the scene where Keiran chose to share with Cherisse about his sexuality was a very honest and sweet moment between the two. Keiran and Cherisse definitely had chemistry, but their constant bickering at the beginning reminded me of kids in the playground, with the boy teasing to get the girl's attention. To be honest, I don't think it was quite clear why they didn't like each other. Once their relationship improved and the romance started, I really enjoyed Cherisse and Keiran as a couple. The two had some pretty hot love scenes. I also really appreciated seeing clear consent between them and how Keiran was always asking for Cherisse's permission and making sure she was okay. However, the book had issues with pacing as I definitely felt that the story started to drag a bit. I was also annoyed about the big misunderstanding near the end that broke them up. The drama seemed really ridiculous, and this also led to the ending to be rushed. Overall, Sweethand had a fun, vibrant Caribbean setting with fabulously group of side characters, but I unfortunately lost a bit of interest as the story progressed.
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟
Dial A for Aunties Jesse Q Sutanto
What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then, toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family? You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue! When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate-especially when it is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding that Meddy, her Ma, and her aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline. It is the biggest job yet for their family wedding business-"Don't leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!"-and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her aunties' perfect buttercream-cake flowers. But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy's great college love-and biggest heartbreak-makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding, all in one weekend?
I was instantly intrigued by Dial A for Aunties due to the catchy title; however, once I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it! This book was one of my highly anticipated read of 2021, and it delivered on everything I hoped it would be! Dial A for Aunties was an absolute laugh-out-loud funny read. I had so much fun reading that I was smiling and laughing the entire time. While Meddy was a sweet character, and I really enjoyed seeing her journey of standing up for herself and becoming independent from her family, it was her Ma and Aunties that were the true stars of the book. Meddy's Ma and Aunties completely stole the show. I loved each of them and their unique personalities, and together they were so hilariously funny! The family dynamic was very relatable as Sutanto did an amazing job of perfectly capturing how Asian families show their love for one another. It was truly wonderful seeing how the Chans were willing to do everything to protect each other. The whole premise of hiding a dead body at a wedding was so over-the-top, you do have to suspend your disbelief and just go with it. It was honestly so ridiculous seeing the various things that Meddy and her family were doing to try and get rid of the body. Throughout the book, I was scared they were going to get caught, but also laughing at the mayhem and chaos that ensued and hoping they would somehow get away with it. It was crazy to think that through all of this, there was also a little romance as well. I thought Meddy and Nathan's romance was sweet and I liked the few flashbacks of them as a couple in college, but I would have liked for more present-day interaction between them so that the two could properly reconnect because they just fell back in love too quickly. Although, Nathan was a true keeper with the help he gave to Meddy and her family. Honestly, I can't say enough good things about Dial A for Aunties as this book was simply a must-read! Lastly, I'm so happy to hear that Dial A for Aunties is going to be a Netflix movie! I can't wait to watch it!
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Olivia and the Masked Duke Grace Callaway
He saved her life when she was a girl. Now, she is a woman determined to heal his heart...Spirited debutante Lady Olivia MacLeod, cherished daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Strathaven, has two interests: solving mysteries and winning the love of her secret girlhood crush, the infamous Duke of Hadleigh. When she joins Lady Charlotte Fayne’s charity for genteel young ladies and discovers that it is a front for an investigative agency, she is thrilled and dedicates herself to solving a deadly case. Little does she realize that the path to danger will also lead to her heart’s deepest desire. Notorious widower Ben Wodehouse, the Duke of Hadleigh, has only one goal in mind: redemption. After his tortured past, he seeks salvation behind a mask, channeling his dark demons toward helping those in need. The last thing he wants or deserves is innocence. Yet temptation taunts him by delivering pretty young Olivia into his arms: she is everything he cannot have and everything he needs. Will Olivia and Ben succeed in defeating a menacing foe? Will succumbing to their dark and forbidden desires lead to their happily ever after?
Olivia and the Masked Duke was my first book by Grace Callaway, and wow, what an introduction to this author. I really enjoyed Olivia and the Masked Duke and thought it was a very sexy read. Both main characters, Olivia and Ben, were very well-written and likable. I thought Olivia was a smart, determined, and loyal character. I loved her group of friends, The Willflowers, young ladies of society who wanted to make a difference in their community and for women during that time period. With Ben, he was one sad, damaged, broody man. However, I enjoyed his emotional journey and seeing him, with the help of Olivia, let go of his past and realize that he was a good man worthy of Olivia's love. Regarding the romance, this book featured the friends-to-lovers and age-gap trope. With the age-gap, I normally don't mind that in my romances, but I was a bit worried about the relationship since Ben had known Olivia since she was young. Thankfully, Ben and Olivia's relationship was strictly platonic during those years, and it wasn't until Olivia was an adult that she started seeing Ben differently and became physically attracted to him. So Olivia was the one that pursued Ben, while Ben was hesitant given their age difference and his past. I also really liked the flashback chapters throughout the book as it showcased Ben and Olivia's years of friendship and the strong bond between the two that eventually turned romantic. Once Olivia and Ben embraced their relationship, wow, things got really steamy. I did not expect how hot the love scenes would be. Lastly, I didn't notice it at first, but I realized this book was actually a fun historical take on Charlie's Angels! I couldn't believe I didn't see it right away. I mean, Lady Charlotte ran a secret women's agency called Society of Angels, there's "angels" in their name, and she took in proteges to train them and gave them mission to do. Overall, I highly recommend Olivia and the Masked Duke to romance readers looking for a sexy historical romance to read.
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Comment down below if you have read any of these books and let me know your thoughts on them. Also, share with me some of your romance book recommendations!