Posted in Reviews

Review: Honey & Spice by Bolu Bablola

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola (Honey and Spice)
Recommended: YES!!
For fake dating gone right, for gestures both grand and minute that matter equally as much, for characters who confront hard truths about themselves and challenge others to do the same, for excellent frienships, and yes, romance too

This is one of the few books this year — maybe the only book this year? — that I finished and feel like it was EASILY a five-star read, smashing through and getting all the way to the top. Loved it. 😍

Summary

Sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo has just made a huge mistake. As an expert in relationship-evasion and the host of the popular student radio show Brown Sugar, she’s made it her mission to make sure the women of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University do not fall into the mess of “situationships”, players, and heartbreak. But when the Queen of the Unbothered kisses Malakai Korede, the guy she just publicly denounced as “The Wastemen of Whitewell,” in front of every Blackwellian on campus, she finds her show on the brink.

They’re soon embroiled in a fake relationship to try and salvage their reputations and save their futures. Kiki has never surrendered her heart before, and a player like Malakai won’t be the one to change that, no matter how charming he is or how electric their connection feels. But surprisingly entertaining study sessions and intimate, late-night talks at old-fashioned diners force Kiki to look beyond her own presumptions. Is she ready to open herself up to something deeper?

Thoughts

So many of the women in this book sound like excellent people to be friends with and I wish I knew where to find folks like them. Making friends as an adult is weird, y’all. I think the female friendships in this book were very well done and I adored them. Yes, some of them come about because of a man, and they do talk about their men, but damn if it wasn’t so much more than that. It felt empowering and hilarious and vulnerable all at once.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Recommended: eh
For ok characters who are sometimes inconsistent, and an ok plot that moves really quickly, and an overall ok read

Summary

She’s got his back. Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.
He’s got her heart. Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.
They’ve got a secret. When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.
What could possibly go wrong??? Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Thoughts

This is definitely not my favorite Katherin Center book. It was a lot of small things that built up and brought this one down for me. If it was only one or two things I probably could have gotten over them, but so many all together just bombed it. This one was solidly ok. I read it in two days, but that’s because it was very simple and easy to read rather than that I was so compelled by it. 🤷‍♀️

The first issue that hit me was how much I disliked the overall character voice and style of writing. It’s narrated as though it’s a story being told to the reader by the main character, complete with statements like “I’ll save you the trouble of reading it and summarize for you” when, well, I’m never going to read those documents because they don’t actually exist and I don’t know, it just irked me.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Recommended: not for me but maybe for you?
If you like suuuuper sweet Hallmark-style moments, too-good-to-be-true characters, and sex where he calls her “baby” a lot

Summary

Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially since her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiralled out of control. Now everyone she knows—including her ex and his fiancée—will be there and eager to meet him.

She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic and aid in her deception. New York to Spain is no short flight and her raucous family won’t be easy to fool.

Enter Aaron Blackford—her tall, handsome, condescending colleague—who surprisingly offers to step in. She’d rather refuse; never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling, and insufferable man.

But Catalina is desperate, and as the wedding draws nearer, Aaron looks like her best option. And she begins to realize he might not be as terrible in the real world as he is at the office.

Thoughts

There was so much about this book I didn’t like, from start to finish, but I kept reading it. I assumed the sex scenes would be good and I was kind of right? Certainly generous in length of time and vivid description, but filled with — for me — total turnoffs that ruined it entirely. The excessive amount of calling her “baby,” for example. Always a weird one to me. And things that are a mix of insulting and concerning to me like “I finally have you were I want you. At my mercy.” For me that’s not sexy, just an uncomfortable power issue. Anyway. Meh.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Bodyguard (7/19/22)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Bodyguard by Katherine Center!
Expected Release: July 19, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • MORE FAKE DATING MORE FAKE DATING MORE FAKE DATING! I’m pretty sure 3 of the last 4 books I’ve added for Fast Forward Friday have had fake dating, and a bunch of recent reads had fake dating, and I have no idea why I’m on such a fake dating kick. But it’ll be continuing on the 19th for sure. 😁
  • A twist! I adore that the man is NOT the bodyguard 😎 Take that, gender norms! I’m hoping the usual gender stereotypes are appropriately turned on their head in this — and it doesn’t become cringy with Hannah.
  • And a celebrity / famous angle too! Someone recently mentioned how they were reading a lot of books with royalty and famous-person romances, and I realized I also have been really enjoying those when they pop up. This one has an element of that too, though lately Jack has shied away from the public eye for unknown reasons…
  • Also, honorable mention reason: it’s by Katherine Center. And I’ve historically enjoyed her novels. Maybe not in a blew-me-away way, but they tend to have some unique element to them and feel overall very refreshing. I hope the trend continues!

Summary

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Honey & Spice (7/5/22)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola!
Expected Release: July 5, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • FAKE DATING! I’m on an absolute TEAR of fake-dating tropes in books right now, and I’m ready to add another winner to the pile! I love that the angle for this one is salvaging each of their reputations (and radio shows).
  • It’s also a little bit enemies to lovers, since Kiki sees Malakai as the total player he is and calls him out in a WILDLY public manner as a piece of trash to be avoided at all costs — before frenching him (for some reason??).
  • Ah, and there’s also a lot of reluctant-to-love going on here. Kiki is never one to let herself be totally vulnerable, but it sounds like Malakai might end up worming his way past her defenses to a really lovely place. 🥰

Summary

Sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo has just made a huge mistake. As an expert in relationship-evasion and the host of the popular student radio show Brown Sugar, she’s made it her mission to make sure the women of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University do not fall into the mess of “situationships”, players, and heartbreak. But when the Queen of the Unbothered kisses Malakai Korede, the guy she just publicly denounced as “The Wastemen of Whitewell,” in front of every Blackwellian on campus, she finds her show on the brink.

They’re soon embroiled in a fake relationship to try and salvage their reputations and save their futures. Kiki has never surrendered her heart before, and a player like Malakai won’t be the one to change that, no matter how charming he is or how electric their connection feels. But surprisingly entertaining study sessions and intimate, late-night talks at old-fashioned diners force Kiki to look beyond her own presumptions. Is she ready to open herself up to something deeper?

A gloriously funny and sparkling debut novel, Honey & Spice is full of delicious tension and romantic intrigue that will make you weak at the knees.