Book Review: Resting Witch Face by Juliette Cross

Resting Witch Face (Stay a Spell #5)
Publisher: Juliette Cross Publishing, LLC
Pub Date: 31 October 2022
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Twelve years ago, Jules Savoie ended her relationship with the vampire overlord of New Orleans, Ruben Dubois. For good reasons. A woman in power must often make sacrifices to protect others. She knows the truth of it down to her aching heart.

When Ruben watches his best friend Devraj get married, a stinging realization hits him hard…he’s done waiting. They say time heals all wounds. In this case, it merely sharpened the pain and made one fact crystal clear. Jules Savoie is his soulmate, and nothing would keep him from her. Not anymore.

Forced to work side by side to fight for the werewolf cause, they campaign together at covens from New Orleans to London. The reignited spark burns hotter than ever before. But when a power-hungry vampire sets his predatory sights on Jules, will their love be strong enough against black magic? Or will he lose her again? And this time, maybe…for good.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Violence, on-page sex (including orgy scenes, MCs do not participate), drugging, kidnapping, torture, assault, sexist behaviour

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Book Review: Always Practice Safe Hex by Juliette Cross

Always Practice Safe Hex (Stay a Spell #4)
Pub Date: 24 May 2022
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

There’s a reason no one messes with a grim…

Livvy Savoie is a people person. Not only does she have the magical gift of persuasion, but her natural charisma charms everyone she meets. She hasn’t met a person she didn’t like. Until her annoyingly brilliant competitor walks through the door. No matter how hard she denies it, loathing isn’t the only emotion she feels for him.

Grim reaper Gareth Blackwater is rarely, if ever, moved beyond his broody, stoic state. But the witch he’s partnered with in the public relations contest is destroying his peace of mind. He’s convinced that the flesh-melting attraction he feels for her is merely her witchy magic at work.

But forced proximity proves there is more than magic sparking between them. Livvy learns this enigmatic grim’s abilities are beyond any supernatural she has ever known. And when Livvy becomes the obsessive target of a dangerous wizard, Gareth proves just how powerful he truly is. Because no one is going to hurt his Lavinia.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Sexual harrassment (on-page), sexual assault (on-page), child abuse, light BDSM

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ARC Review: A Long Time Coming by Meghan Quinn

Special thanks to Meghan Quinn and her team for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review!

A LONG TIME COMING, a brand new sexy, friends-to-lovers standalone romance from USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn, is Now Available in all formats, including the illustrated hardcover edition!

 Friends to Lovers
 Forbidden
 Billionaire Romance
 Quirky Heroine
 Steamy Scenes

Get ready to fall in love with this unassuming, smoking hot billionaire and his beautiful, quirky best friend he’s destined for! One-click your copy of this sexy, laugh-out-loud romance full of charm and heat today!

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Holiday Romance Mini-Reviews: Santa, Baby, Lovelight Farms, and The Geek Who Saved Christmas!

Santa, Baby by Eliza McLane

Santa, Baby (Holiday Nights #1)
Pub Date: 12 November 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

She’s the intriguing and utterly lust-worthy little sister of his best friend. He’s the adorably hot guy she’s crushed on for a decade. They’ve never crossed that line, but now they’re snowed in together on an adult film set–and the cameras are rolling.

Nick has always wanted to check playing Santa off his struggling actor bucket list. But when he arrives at the gig to find people, well, filling each other’s stockings, it’s obvious he missed the small print: the job is Christmas porn, and he’s the grand finale. And his director and co-star? The off-limits sister of his best friend.

Holly lives a double life: quiet and conservative at home, brassy and bossy at her secret work in adult films. When Nick shows up on set she expects disaster, but there’s a hunger in his eyes as he watches her take charge on set, and they’re both eager to let their attraction take fire–for the sake of work, of course.

When an approaching snowstorm sends the crew home, it’s up to Nick and Holly to save her movie, and they agree to indulge for just one night. But when dirty talk and a decade of longing lead to deeper conversations and cozy cuddling, they’ll start to wonder if the Christmas miracle they make together can last all year long.

Author’s note: Santa, Baby is a steamy and sweet novella (about half the length of a typical romance) full of big feelings and filthy, dirty-talking sex. In its pages you’ll find a brother’s-best-friend romance full of sex-positivity, a totally besotted hero, and lots of sparkling Christmas spirit–all with an empowering HEA.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Toxic family relationships (controlling and close-minded parents), parental abandonment recounted, parent with depression and addiction

This was a cute, sexy and sex-positive holiday romance with plenty of fun tropes including brother’s best friend romance, grumpy/sunshine, getting snowed-in and staying stuck together (oop, we love it)! 😉 It was a take on romance featuring the adult entertainment industry that I’ve never read before and I found that refreshing. If you’re looking for a steamy read to add to your holiday romance list, this should definitely get on there!

I thought the story was well-written and the characters were well-developed for a novella. Nick is the happy-go-lucky Christmas-loving guy spreading holiday cheer everywhere he goes and in contrast, Holly is a bit of a quiet grinch who dislikes the holiday because of her toxic relationship with her close-minded and controlling family. There has always been an attraction between them that they’ve never acted upon as her brother is Nick’s bestie, so it’s a major shock that the quiet girl he’s always been curious about is directing the adult film he’s been hired for. It’s clear that their perceptions of each other are so different to what they’re like IRL and I loved seeing Nick and Holly get to know each other away from the connection that ties them together, Holly’s douchenugget of a brother. He is so encouraging and supportive of Holly and I loved how he showed her that she deserves to be surrounded by people who appreciate her and make her happy. The way he gave her the kind of Christmas she’s always dreamed of was so swoony and their steamy scenes were fire—there was definitely no lack of chemistry between them! But mixed in with the dirty-talking sex scenes were plenty of heartfelt and intimate moments that were very sweet and balanced the romance nicely!

Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

Lovelight Farms (Lovelight #1)
Pub Date: 10 November 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Where the lovelight gleams…

A pasture of dead trees. A hostile takeover of the Santa barn by a family of raccoons. And shipments that have mysteriously gone missing. Lovelight Farms is not the magical winter wonderland of Stella Bloom’s dreams.

In an effort to save the Christmas tree farm she’s loved since she was a kid, she enters a contest with instafamous influencer Evelyn St. James. With the added publicity and the $100,000 cash prize, she might just be able to save the farm from its financial woes. There’s just one problem. To make the farm seem like a romantic destination for the holidays, she lied on the application and said she owns Lovelight Farms with her boyfriend. Only… there is no boyfriend.

Enter best friend Luka Peters. He just came home for some hot chocolate, and somehow got a farm and a serious girlfriend in the process.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Parental abandonment, parental infidelity recounted, alcohol abuse mentioned, grief & loss depiction, death of a parent recounted

This would be a great addition to your holiday romance reading lists because it’s perfectly atmospheric and the romance is sweet with a little bit of steam. This is for those who enjoy soft friends-to-lovers romances with cute heart-fluttering fake-dating moments! Though I didn’t end up loving this as much as I thought I would, I still thought this was a solid debut from Borison and I get why it’s so well-loved. 😍

The small-town and Lovelight Farms setting was great and the atmosphere perfectly captured the transition from fall to Thanksgiving to full-blown winter! Borison also did a great job of capturing little bits of small-town life full of nosy but well-meaning neighbourhood friendlies and though I wanted a bit more of it, I still really enjoyed the interactions we got between them and our MCs! I adored the side characters and what they brought to the story, especially Beckett, Layla and Dane. I think the difficulty I had was that I didn’t fully connect with either Stella or Luka and I didn’t feel the stakes of their fake-dating romance. The story is told from one POV, which already isn’t my favourite, but I was also pretty on the fence about Stella. She’s hardworking and ambitious but she’s also incredibly stubborn, gets in her own way and made frustrating decisions. I understood her fears but she also kept putting herself back in toxic situations, and not to sound too harsh, but I thought a lot of the sadness she felt was of her own making. This was especially true when it came to Luka and the “conflict” really frustrated me! 🤦🏻‍♀️ Sadly, while I thought Luka was adorable, and I loved his gleeful geekiness and how he would do practically anything for Stella, he felt flat and it made me wish even more that we got his POV!

The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert

The Geek Who Saved Christmas
Pub Date: 09 November 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIA+

Panda Rating:

(4 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

His grumpy neighbor needs some holiday sunshine…

Gideon Holiday is the perfect neighbor. Need a cup of sugar? Spare folding chair? Extra batteries? He’s always ready to help. And he’s waited years for his hot, grumpy, silver fox neighbor, Paul, to need him. For anything. But this December, Gideon would be happy if he could just get the Scrooge-like Paul on board with the neighborhood holiday lights fundraiser.

Paul Frost has no intention of decking his halls or blazing any Yule logs. Even if his spunky bowtie-clad neighbor does look perfect for unwrapping, Paul would prefer to hide away until December is done. But when his beloved younger brother announces an unexpected visit, Paul needs all the trimmings for a festive homecoming—and fast.

Luckily, Gideon is there with a color-coded plan to save Christmas. Soon Paul’s hanging lights, trimming trees, and rolling out cookies. And steaming up his new flannel sheets with Gideon. How did that happen?

It’ll take some winter magic to preserve their happiness and keep these rival neighbors together longer than one holiday season.

The Geek Who Saved Christmas is a low-angst m/m holiday romance with a guaranteed happy ending. This grumpy/sunshine, neighbors-to-lovers, found family tale features two heroes in their forties figuring out that maybe their sexily-ever-after was right next door the whole time. It stands alone and is not connected to any of the author’s other universes. However, it does contain a heaping helping of the same emotions and steamy moments readers have come to expect!

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Death of parents recounted, off-page, childhood family trauma recounted, toxic family relationships

This was a cute, sweet and festive grumpy-sunshine MM romance and it was absolutely full of holiday activities and spirit! There’s so much shopping, sentimental talks about holiday memories, and of course, all the Christmas decorating! As much as I enjoyed this one though, I didn’t feel particularly strongly about much of it—it was well-written and enjoyable, and I liked our MCs but I also didn’t feel an abundance of chemistry and at times felt a bit bored, which made the book seem very long.

I loved that Gideon and Paul are in their 40s and that the story delves into the aspects that make it a tough time of year for both of them. I think it’s a good reminder that not everyone has good memories and experiences of the holiday season for various reasons, but it’s also a heartwarming story about finding happiness and showing appreciation for your loved ones. Despite their personality differences, Gideon is the sunshine to Paul’s grump they’re both lonely and don’t have big or caring families to spend the holidays with. Both of their stories broke my heart but it was put back together again by seeing them allow each other into their lives by being emotionally vulnerable. I think one of my main grips would be the communication aspect. They eventually get it together, and I appreciate that there was no major blowout (this is a low-angst romance after all!), but they were so open with everything else and I wished they’d been straight about their feelings too. This book was like a Hallmark romance but with steam (not overly explicit) and the HEA was sweet and satisfying!

Do you read holiday romances and have you read any of these or are they on your TBR? If you have any holiday romance reccos, please share!

Book Review: Witches Get Stitches by Juliette Cross

Witches Get Stitches (Stay a Spell #3)
Pub Date: 20 July 2021
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Violet Savoie has a plan. A dream, rather. To open her own tattoo shop, which caters to supernaturals in need of permanent charms. As a powerful Seer, she has the potent magic to cast every kind of spell. Except the kind to give werewolves control over their beastly side. And her business partner Nico needs help in the worst kind of way.

Nico Cruz has a secret. A motive, rather. To subtly stalk and seduce Violet until she finally recognizes they are fated to be together. Ever since their heated encounter in Austin on New Year’s Eve two years earlier, he’s been dying to get his hands—and his tongue—back on her body. He knows a woman like Violet can’t be courted in the usual way. Luckily, Nico has no scruples about misbehaving to get what he wants.

But when his former pack roams into town, and an old friend is far too interested in Violet, his focus shifts to the threat venturing into his territory. Nico may come across as the quiet, broody one, but the intruders are about to regret stepping foot in New Orleans. And when Violet goes missing, no charm or spell can keep Nico’s wolf at bay.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Kidnapping

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Book Review: Don’t Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross

Don’t Hex and Drive (Stay a Spell #2)
Pub Date: 8 September 2020
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Notoriously bad at peopling, Isadora Savoie spends most of her time in the greenhouse or at the local animal shelter, using her Conduit powers of growth and healing. Content to remain in the background of the Savoie sister shenanigans, she’s reluctantly roped into the mystery of missing neighborhood girls. Now, she’s partnered with a flashy, flirty vampire to find them before it’s too late.

Devraj Kumar has seen and done it all. Three hundred years roaming the earth as a Stygorn — a legendary vampire warrior who operates in the shadows — has its perks. But ennui has set in. That is, until he has a run-in — literally — with an intriguing witch while on a new assignment in New Orleans. Fascinated by her resistance to his charms, Devraj can’t help but push her buttons in an effort to get to know the shy witch. Fortunately for him, she’s been recruited by the Lord of Vampires to assist Devraj on the case.

Between a Bollywood marathon, supernatural dating app, secret package, and sexy driving instruction, Isadora is in over her head. And Devraj? After just one taste, he’s playing for keeps.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Social anxiety, panic attack, amaxophobia (fear of driving/being in a car)

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Release Blitz Review: The Holly Dates by Brittainy Cherry

Special thanks to the author for providing a digital ARC via Valentine PR in exchange for an honest review!

The Holly Dates
Pub Date: 07 December 2022
Genre: Contemporary (Holiday) Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

All she wanted for Christmas was a boyfriend for the holidays…
All he wanted was for her to take her crappy first dates elsewhere…


Quirky Holly Jackson was unlucky in love, yet her romantic heart refused to give up her search for companionship—even after her fiancé left her at the altar on Christmas Eve.

Grumpy restaurant owner Kai Kane wanted nothing to do with love after his last relationship crashed and burned. Romance was the last thing on his mind. Unfortunately for him, when an eccentric Holly kept entering his restaurant nightly with a different first date, his annoyance grew.

When Kai volunteered to help Holly find a suitor it was for one reason only: to get her out of his restaurant and on to a second date with someone at a different location.

Once Kai became Holly’s dating coach, her confidence grew.

It was all going great until Kai became increasingly jealous of the connection Holly developed with another man. The more Holly fell for Kai’s pick for her, the more overprotective he became.

Kai quickly realized that all wasn’t fair when it came to love and the holidays.

He was going to have to step up his game if he wanted a shot at the ultimate prize—being Holly’s favorite date.

*The Holly Dates is a steamy, full-length romantic comedy that will put you right in the holiday spirit.*

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Childhood abandonment and abusive parents (recounted), infidelity (on-page and recounted), manipulative gaslighting partner, body shaming (one incident on-page), cancer (former partner of one of the main characters)

📚 BUY A COPY
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Book Review: Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross

Wolf Gone Wild (Stay a Spell #1)
Pub Date: 14 January 2020
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

What’s the worst thing that can happen to a werewolf? Unable to shift for three months, Mateo Cruz knows all too well. His wolf has taken up residence in his head, taunting him night and day with vividly violent and carnal thoughts. Convinced he’s cursed, he needs the help of a powerful witch before he literally goes insane.

​Evie Savoie has always obeyed the house rules of her coven–no werewolves. They’re known for being moody and volatile. So, when a distempered, dangerous werewolf strolls into the bar and almost strangles one of her late-night customers, she’s ready to bounce him through the door. But the desperation in his eyes when he begs her to help him softens her heart and convinces her to bend the rules.

​What Evie doesn’t know is that Mateo’s wolf has a mind of his own. And now that she’s in his sights, he wants only one thing. Her.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Kidnapping, torture

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