Romances of the Month: January 2023

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!

Love in the Time of Serial Killers, book cover

Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn't exactly conducive to modern dating-and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she's used to suspecting the worst. PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She's even analyzing the genre in her dissertation-if she can manage to finish writing it. It's hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn't had a relationship with for years. It doesn't help that she's low-key convinced her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he's clearly up to something). But it's not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier-a genuinely nice guy who can pierce through her armor to her vulnerable heart underneath.

When I saw the cute cover and intriguing title, I knew I had to read this book! I thought with the unique concept that the book was going to be a fun and hilarious romantic comedy, but unfortunately I found myself bored for the most part. I liked Phoebe's interest and knowledge of true crime and her true crime references in the book, but I didn't really like Phoebe as a person. I thought she was a bit rude and immature. While I understood Phoebe's personality stemmed from some serious childhood trauma, and it was addressed in the book, it still made it hard for me to connect with her. Phoebe was able to go through a personal journey and grow from her time at her dad's house, but by that point I was no longer invested in the story as much. With Sam, I thought he was very sweet and supportive, but a bit bland. As a couple, Phoebe and Sam just didn't seem like a fit to me. Phoebe was very rude to Sam a lot and so I didn't get why Sam would like her given how she was treating him. Also, Sam being a serial killer didn't last that long. Honestly, while it was great that Sam wasn't a serial killer, I would have liked it if a serial killer or mystery would have actually played a part in the story. I think it would have made for a fun quirky read, and it would have allowed Phoebe to use her true crime knowledge to solve the case/mystery. Overall, Love in the Time of Serial Killers had a refreshing idea, but sadly didn't quite deliver what I was hoping for.

My Rating: ???

Steaminess: ???

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes, book cover

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian

Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, just shot her husband. Of course, the evil, murderous man deserved what was coming to him, but now she must flee to the countryside. Unfortunately, the only person she can ask for help is the charismatic criminal who is blackmailing her--and who she may have left tied up a few hours before... A highwayman, con artist, and all-around cheerful villain, Rob Brooks is no stranger to the wrong side of the law or the right side of anybody's bed. He never meant to fall for the woman whose secrets he promised to keep for the low price of five hundred pounds, but how could he resist someone who led him on a merry chase all over London, left him tied up in a seedy inn, and then arrived covered in her husband's blood and in desperate need of his help? As they flee across the country--stopping to pick pockets, drink to excess, and rescue invalid cats--they discover more true joy and peace than either has felt in ages. But when the truth of Rob's past catches up to him, they must decide if they are willing to reshape their lives in order to forge a future together.

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes was such an absolutely delightful, fluffy read! A truly refreshing and unique book from most historical romances. I loved how the story and Rob and Marian's relationship started with a blackmail letter that turned into a charming letter exchange between the two. The letters were so witty, and Rob and Marian had a nice back-and-forth banter. I thought that the letters were great in showcasing the development of Marian and Rob's relationship. Rob and Marian were a fun grumpy and sunshine pairing. I really liked with the pairing that Marian was the grump in the relationship, while Rob the sunshine. Marian was sharp and fiercely protective of her family and friends. With Rob, he was a thief, but he was an adorably charming cinnamon roll thief. He even rescues stray cats! Also loved their road trip adventure as well, wow, so many fun antics occurred along the way and I seriously couldn't stop laughing. Marian and Rob's relationship was definitely an unconventional one, but I just adored the two of them. They really understood and respected each other, and were equals in every way. Loved that it was Rob that fell first, and he couldn't hold back or hide his feelings for Marian. I also thought it was wonderful how the love scenes were handled. Rob respected Marian's boundaries and needs, and the book showed a different form of intimacy that was unique and specific to the needs of Rob and Marian's. One last thing, I didn't notice it at first, but The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes was a Robin Hood homage!

My Rating: ????

Steaminess: ??

Two Wrongs Make a Right, book cover

Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese

Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn't be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash their hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all. To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder, what if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right?

When I started Two Wrongs Make a Right, I was a bit worried at first because Bea and Jamie's initial meet cute was utterly disastrous and cringey; I was feeling the second-hand embarrassment. Luckily, Two Wrongs Make a Right ended up being such a charming book. While Bea and Jamie's first meeting didn't go well, I did like their brief anonymous text messages to each other when they were set up again by their family and friends. The two had great banter, but they were just too stubborn to see what their family and friends saw. Which then led to the fun set-up of Bea and Jamie deciding to team up in order to get revenge on their meddling family and friends. Both Jamie and Bea were such wonderful characters and adorable. Bea was such a fun character who was always so genuine and bold; loved her tattoos and pet hedgehog. And Jamie, at first he seems to be unfriendly, but it is because he has anxiety, and he was actually the most thoughtful and caring person ever! He makes soup for Bea because he wants to make sure she gets her vegetables. The romance between Jamie and Bea was so sweet and felt so easy and natural. It was a real slow-burn with lots of tension. I loved how Jamie and Bea slowly opened up to each other and how through their relationship they were bringing out the best in each other, helping each other to grow and opening to new experiences as well. Also thought it was so sweet how they were both sensitive and understanding to the other's needs and navigated it together. I thought that the neurodiversity and mental health/anxiety representation was well-written. My one complaint was the drama with Bea's sister, Jules, and her boyfriend; there were hints of issues between the couple throughout the book, and it quickly escalated near the end. Glad that Jules left the relationship, but I felt that created an unnecessary conflict between Bea and Jamie and resulted in the obligatory third act breakup, which then rushed to get them back together again. However, that little complaint aside, I really enjoyed Two Wrongs Make a Right overall, and really hope Bea's sisters get their own books too.

My Rating: ????

Steaminess: ???

A Merry Little Meet Cute, book cover

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn't ask for more. But when Bee's favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he's making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee's career is about to take a more family-friendly direction. Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan's promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he'll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom. But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he's a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel's execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan's singing career comes snooping around--and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee. And if Bee and Nolan can't keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

I absolutely love Hallmark Christmas movies, and so I was very excited to read A Merry Little Meet Cute. The book was definitely not the typical Christmas romance book as it had all the feel-good cheesiness of a Hallmark Christmas movie, but with a lot more spice. I had such a great time reading this book, and thought the premise was very fun and cute. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments as well. I found it so hilarious how the two very different worlds of adult film and a squeaky-clean network ended up colliding with each other when Bee and many of the technical crew she knew from her adult film ended up working on the family-friendly holiday movie, which led to lots of funny moments. With our two main characters, Bee and Nolan; I loved them! The two of them were facing some big challenges in their lives, and they were such wonderful characters to root for. Bee was such an amazing character and role model. I loved how she was so confident and unabashedly she was of herself. Nolan was so sweet, and I loved seeing his growth in the book. Also thought he was so wonderful in supporting his mom and sister, and of Bee and her career as well. The romance between Bee and Nolan was excellent. I loved how Bee and Nolan sort of already knew each other before through their other careers and were crushing on each other. The chemistry between the two was strong from the start; that corset scene (phew!) Don't be fooled by the cute illustrated cover; this book was hot! Lastly, I wanted to point out how much I appreciated the body positivity and sex work positivity, as well as the LGBTQ+ representation in this book. Overall, A Merry Little Meet Cute was such a wonderful Christmas read, and I can't wait for more in the series!

My Rating: ????

Steaminess: ?????

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!