Book Reviews: Halifax Hellions Series by Alexandra Vasti

Halifax Hellions #1

In Which Margo Halifax Earns Her Shocking Reputation
Pub Date: 19 September 2022
Genre: Historical Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

The Halifax Hellions are the most scandalous, outrageous, ungovernable ladies in London. From the day of their debut—in which Matilda smoked a cheroot and Margo tied a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue—they’ve turned the ton upside down. But when Matilda elopes with a dangerous aristocrat, Margo must stop her twin before this new misadventure becomes a permanent marriage. For help, Margo turns to her brother’s best friend—because if anyone can get them to Scotland in time, it’s starchy solicitor Henry Mortimer.

Henry Mortimer has precisely one secret in his otherwise buttoned-up life: he’s been in love with Margo for seven wonderful, agonizing years. When she turns up at his doorstep, soaked to the skin and desperate for his help, he cannot turn her down. A week alone in a carriage with the object of his desires an arm’s length away? Surely he can survive that. He hopes.

But the road to Scotland is paved with disasters—caves and crashes and the bloody rain that keeps forcing Henry to hold a damp, shivering, sinfully tempting Margo in his arms. Only an unstoppable force could drag the truth of Henry’s affection from his lips. Unfortunately for him, Margo Halifax has yet to be stopped.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

On-page sex, road accident

Read More »

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!

Romance Mini-Reviews: The Charm Offensive + The Missed Connection

Note: these reviews were originally posted on my Goodreads in June and July 2022 (oldest first)

The Charm Offensive
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 07 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to open up to the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Anxiety, panic attacks, mental illness (chronic depression), homophobia, OCD, racial micro aggressions

Dev and Charlie absolutely charmed me! 🥹 They have an almost instant connection that slowly develops into a heartwarming romance. My heart hurt for Charlie as he struggled to believe that he deserved love because all his life people have treated him as “less- than” due to his OCD and anxiety. I loved watching him slowly learn to not be apologetic for being who he is. Dev is a hopeless romantic who is scared to accept love out of fear of being abandoned or rejected. He puts on a “Fun Dev” persona pretending everything is fine despite suffering from chronic depression. Not only did I love the diversity and LGBTQIA+ representation in this book, but I thought the mental health, OCD and anxiety rep was also really well addressed and handled sensitively.

Their romance was incredibly soft and sweet with super swoontastic moments that had me reading with heart-eyes. 😍 There’s a forbidden romance element which really upped the stakes and increased the tension. I appreciated that they did what they needed to do for themselves first to have a healthy relationship. As much as I enjoyed this though, I admit that I expected to love it much more than I did. There were moments when I felt disconnected from the characters and romance. It was enjoyable enough but when I had to put it down, I also didn’t feel compelled to pick it back up again immediately! Still, I did enjoy this a lot and I would definitely love to read parts of it again because they made my heart very happy!

The Missed Connection (Airport Novellas #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 21 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Two strangers share a romantic night together only to discover months later they’re professional rivals in this grumpy meets sunshine romance novella from the acclaimed author of How To Fail at Flirting.

Gia loves her job as a professor, even when it means dealing with an elusive rival academic who’s made it his mission to criticize her work. When she meets him for the first time, she’s shocked to learn they’ve met before. Months earlier, they shared a perfect New Year’s Eve together in an airport during a weather delay.

After months of working together, Felix still can’t believe the person whose research he’s been challenging is the same captivating woman he kissed that night. The two couldn’t be more different. Gia is bubbly, friendly, and extroverted and drives ordered, serious Felix nuts.

Now the two have been assigned to embark on a five-school tour for work. Gia and Felix can’t imagine a travel partner they’d enjoy less until they feel the sparks fly over their shared armrests, security mishaps, and a shared hotel room. They’ll need to decide if they can manage their professional tension, or risk missing the connection of a lifetime.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Workplace misogyny, sexism

This wasn’t anything particularly special but it was exactly what I wanted when I went in search of a fast in-between read this morning. This was my first Denise Williams book so I didn’t have any expectations going in but I’m happy to say that I enjoyed her writing and characters!

Gia and Felix are your typical grumpy-sunshine trope in a work-nemesis-to-lovers romance situation. Their meet-cute on NYE at the airport is like what those romantic dreams are made of only for those fantasies to crumble to dust a few months down the line when they meet again and realise they’re enemies in the professional field in real life. These two have a clear attraction to each other that I really enjoyed seeing grow as they spend more time together. Felix is a pretty closed book and I felt the win alongside Gia every time her sunshine personality managed to elicit even the smallest of grins from him. Despite their opposite personalities they clicked so well and I loved how Gia encouraged Felix to be more relaxed and open, and I loved the way he grounded her. They were so accepting of each other and it was really sweet!

I’d have loved to read more about them but even with this being a novella, I still really enjoyed seeing how they evolve and grow together. This also served big on that happy ending. Was it a little cheesy? Heck yes but it was so perfectly Gia but I loved that it was Felix who came up with the idea for her 😂 They’re so cute!

Have you read either of these contemporary romances or are they on your TBR? If you did, what did you think of them?

Series Mini-Reviews: Holiday Brothers Series by Willa Nash

I’m not much of a seasonal reader but apparently, this is the year when holiday romances are my jam and I’m having a blast with them! I binged the Holiday Brothers series by Willa Nash in two days and they were delightfully festive holiday novellas that I have no doubt will put many in a merry mood!

Goodreads: The Naughty, The Nice and The Nanny (#1)
Publication Date: 04 November 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

One week with one little girl—an angel, according to my staffing agency. Acting as the short-term nanny for a single dad should have been an easy way to make some extra cash. Until I show up for my first day and face off with a demon disguised as a seven-year-old girl wearing a red tutu and matching glitter slippers.

Oh, and her father? My temporary boss? Maddox Holiday. The same Maddox Holiday I crushed on in high school. The same Maddox Holiday who didn’t even know I existed. And the same Maddox Holiday who hasn’t set foot in Montana for years because he’s been too busy running his billionaire empire.

Enduring seven days is going to feel like scaling the Himalayas in six-inch heels. Toss in the Holiday family’s annual soiree, and Christmas Eve nightmares really do come true. But I can do anything for a week, especially for this paycheck, even if it means wrangling the naughty, impressing the nice, and playing the nanny. 

This little novella was a fun and quirky holiday romance with characters that had great chemistry and a story with a good dose of touching family moments. While ultimately the romance ended up being very insta-love, it didn’t feel like it initially as Natalie and Maddox built up a good foundation of trust and respect through their bond with Violet. This was a novella, so of course, I kind of expected the insta aspect of the romance, but I also thought it was handled well enough that it didn’t bother me overly much.

I really liked Natalie—she has such a good heart and I loved how she understood and came through for Violet when her mother was inattentive and constantly let her down. Nat was so bubbly and passionate about the children she took care of and it shone through. I also really enjoyed her more comedic monologue as she reflected on how high-school Nat would feel about working closely with Maddox and having flirty interactions with him—she was a really fun heroine and so easy to root for! Maddox was your slightly typical hot billionaire single-dad who doted on his little girl. I really liked how much he adored Violet and wanted to change his lifestyle to be better for her. He was a sweet guy and I’m glad that this was told in alternating POVs so we get a good insight into both their mindsets. The chemistry and pull between Mad and Nat was undeniable and was built up really well! It’s mildly steamy but the main sex scenes are fade-to-black, so if on-page sex isn’t your jam in romances, you’ll be okay with this one!

Goodreads: Three Bells, Two Bows and One Brother’s Best Friend (#2)
Publication Date: 04 November 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

I pride myself in being grounded. Sure, I’ve had my share of childhood fantasies. Winning an Oscar. Winning the lottery. Winning an Olympic medal for an athletic talent I have yet to discover. But the only fantasy I ever thought might actually happen was winning my brother’s best friend.

Heath Holiday.
My crush on him has ebbed and flowed over the years, but the day I started working for his construction company was the day I smothered it for good. Sort of. Mostly. It was on my to-do list. Making it a priority would have been easier had he not arrived at his family’s annual Christmas party looking ridiculously handsome in a suit.

Then he kissed me. We stepped into an alternate universe and he kissed me. I assumed the next day I’d just be Guy’s little sister again. The office newbie. Our kiss forgotten. Except he keeps showing up at my house. With gifts.

A gold bracelet carrying three jingling bells. Two dainty jeweled earrings, each shaped as a bow. And finally, he brought himself. One brother’s best friend, asking if I can keep a secret

If you read the first book in the Holiday Brothers series then you’ll probably remember the first cheeky glimpse we get into the blossoming romance between Stella and Heath, and if you were like me, you probably also couldn’t wait to find out how they got to that point! I ended up really enjoying the romance between these two and so far, this is my favourite book in this series. There were definitely some not-so-great moments that had me cringing and also shaking my fist in rage (on Stella’s behalf) but ultimately, these two had a wonderful connection that gave me the warm fuzzies and I was here for their happiness!

Again, because this is a novella, things move pretty quickly on the romantic front; however, I thought their connection as a result of their lifelong friendship and the mutual attraction they felt (and that they kept secret from each other) was established well enough that the fast pace didn’t feel unnatural. I’m not one for pining and angst but this had some great mutual pining that had me giggling because I just wanted them to get together already! I thought they suited each other really well and I loved how both of them were all-in from the beginning; despite the pretty uncool and bumbling secret-keeping fiascos instigated by Heath once they got together! I really liked them individually as well. Stella was a bit of a typical quirky heroine but I can’t lie, I loved the way she twisted aphorisms (and ngl, most of her twists make so much more sense)! 😂 I also loved the way she became an adorably *awkward* mess whenever she’d meet Heath—it’s just so relatable! Despite a few fumbles himself with the secret-keeping, Heath was a pretty good guy. He was a player in his younger days but I never got those vibes from him, even when we met him in book one, and his steady and hard-working presence was only proven in this story. I wished we got a little bit more character depth from both of them but I thought they were decently developed for a novella-length romance!

Goodreads: A Partridge and A Pregnancy (#3)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(2.5 pandas)

There are a lot of places I’d rather spend Christmas Eve morning than on a cold, snowy sidewalk outside someone else’s home. I’d kill to be sitting beside a fireplace, drinking cocoa, wearing flannel pajamas and reading a book.

Instead, I’m here, standing in front of my one-night stand’s house, working up the courage to ring the doorbell and tell him I’m pregnant.

I hate that term—one-night stand. It sounds so cheap and sleezy. Tobias Holiday is neither of those things. He’s handsome and caring. Witty and charismatic. And once, a long time ago, he was mine.

Our one-night reunion was only supposed to be a hookup. A fling with an old lover. A parting farewell before I moved to London and put my feelings for him an ocean away. How exactly am I supposed to explain that to Tobias that I’m having a baby? His baby? Maybe I could sing it. He always loved the silly songs I made up in the shower.

Three French hens, two turtle doves.

And a partridge and a pregnancy. 

In the previous two books, we briefly learn about Tobias and the surprise pregnancy with his ex, Eva, but of the three brothers, he’s the one who has been around the least. It was great to finally meet him and get his story, but out of the three Holiday Brothers books, this one was probably my least favourite! I’d seen some mixed reviews and wasn’t even sure that I wanted to read it anymore cos I thought I’d end up annoyed but I’m glad I did and finished the series. It wasn’t that the story or writing was bad, I just didn’t connect with the characters.

From the reviews I’d seen, I had expected to find myself hating the heroine, but I felt more indifferent than anything. I mean, I didn’t particularly like or understand her, but I also empathised with her situation. With a job that has her frequently relocating on little notice, she lives a pretty lonely life and with her next big move already in the works, and now a surprise baby on the way, I think her being thrown for a loop was realistic. I would also probably be freaking out in this situation! But I did think she was a little selfish and I never really understood her desire to not stay when it was clear as day that Montana was home to her—what point was she trying to prove and to whom? (view spoiler)

That said, they also never properly discussed the situation because she either ran away as she doesn’t like confronting problems, or Tobias would get frustrated and say hurtful things, or both of them would get overwhelmed by the sexual tension and instead of talking, they’d have sex (which happened a few times). Tobias definitely could’ve been more communicative too and said what was on his mind—well, actually, they both definitely should’ve used their words and been y’know, adults about the situation (lol), but after being unceremoniously rejected by Eva at the end of their college years, I get why he felt that way and why he believed she didn’t want to stay.

Overall though, while they did have the chemistry of old lovers and their steamy moments were hot, I just never really felt invested in their story because it was just overly dramatic and I didn’t feel like it was for any good reason (or at least not a reason that I understood or that I felt was clearly explained). Obviously, their HEA was nice and I’m glad that they both found their happy place together, I just think their journey would’ve been better had they actually talked. 

Have you read the Holiday Brothers series or is it on your TBR?

Mini-Reviews: Oh, Those Highland Lords!

So… Who loves a fast-paced, chemistry-laden and steamy romance featuring headstrong and outspoken ladies and burly Scottish Highland lords? Apparently, I do! 🙋🏻‍♀️ You might’ve notice that I’ve recently got into historical romances and so I thought I’d share more mini-reviews for two of the books I read in the Lords of the Highlands series by Amy Jarecki. I read these completely out of order although they can definitely be read as standalones, but these two do have closely connecting characters (they’re siblings)! I actually read #8 before #5 but I decided to share the reviews in reading order.

The Highland Renegade (Lords of the Highlands #5)
Genre: Historical Romance
Panda Rating:


She is the daughter of his sworn enemy.
Famed for his fierceness, Laird Robert Grant is above all a loyal Highland clan chief. But when redcoats capture his rival’s daughter, he sets aside their feud and races to her rescue. Aye, Janet Cameron is beautiful, cunning, and so very tempting, but a Cameron lass is the last woman he should ever desire.

He is her one hope of happiness.
Janet refuses to meekly surrender, not even when surrounded by foes. She takes every chance to escape, first from the English soldiers and then from the wickedly handsome Robert. Yet with each day they spend together, his unexpected gallantry chips away at her reserve little by little. As danger and treachery loom, can she trust him enough to choose love over vengeance?

This is my second taste of historical romance set in the Scottish highlands and I’ve really enjoyed how Jarecki brings that era to life. While the romance is obviously the main plot, we still learn a great deal about society, as well as the increasingly tense political situation between Scotland and England.

Robert and Janet were great characters! Robert is definitely of the ‘gruffer’ and domineering sort and while Janet comes across as very prim most times, she also has a delightful rebellious streak that makes her so much fun to read about! There’s a long history of feuding between their clans, so it was very much a forbidden-lovers romance, which upped the stakes and added a touch of angst to the story. They initially deny their chemistry but once they give into it… Oof, lemme tell ya! That was some sizzling chemistry and it ended up being even steamier than I expected!! I loved how well they complemented each other, brought out the best in each other, but also allowed the other to flourish in their own way without setting expectations on each other.

TL;DR: I’m definitely looking forward to trying the other books in this series because I’m really enjoying them so far! There’s lot of fast-paced action, steamy connections, characters you really come to care about and romances that will leave you swooning!

The Highland Laird (Lords of the Highlands #8)
Genre: Historical Romance
Panda Rating:


Emma Grant has been sheltered and underestimated her entire life. Her blindness may set her apart, but she’s just as fierce and loyal as any of her clansmen. So when she catches word that her brother’s best friend is in jail, she doesn’t hesitate to race to the brawny Highlander’s rescue.

Laird Ciar MacDougall is on a vital mission for Scotland when he witnesses a murder—and then is blamed for the death and thrown into a Redcoat prison to rot. He never thought he’d be broken out by a slip of a lass and her faithful hound. But now they’re outlaws on the run. And as their enemies circle ever closer, he will have to choose between saving his country or the woman who’s captured his heart

I’m a big romance fan but I don’t read many historical ones, and this was also my first taste of a historical Scottish romance. You can definitely say I’m sold and I’ve already got another one of these books lined up to read soon! It was full of action and adventure, not to mention the chemistry between our hero and heroine was pretty damn fire 🔥 It got pretty steamy too and I’d put this at close to 4/5 on the steamy scale.

I really liked Ciar and Emma! They were wonderfully written characters who complemented each other so well! Ciar was known as a ‘beast’ thanks to his stature and gruff looks but you wouldn’t know that considering how gentle he is with Emma. I swooned at how supportive he was of her and how he was still able to look out for her, without smothering her need for independence and adventure. He really understood her and unlike others who defined her by her lack of sight, he didn’t do that. I absolutely adored Emma’s character. She’s young and there’s a natural naïveté about her but it doesn’t come across as annoying. I love her passion for life and how she really doesn’t let her disability keep her from experiencing it in her own unique way, despite being raised under her overprotective brother’s charge. In all the years they’ve known each other, Cair always treated her kindly and didn’t make her feel like she wasn’t capable of doing anything she wished, which is really all she wanted. So it was especially heartwarming to see them come together and get a HEA! They really brought out the best in each other and their characters fit together so perfectly.

TL;DR: There was plenty of fast-paced action, sweet flirtations, and a surprisingly steamy romance, all set against an interesting historical backdrop. Cair and Emma were wonderful characters who stole my heart and who absolutely deserved their HEA.

Is there something about men in kilts… or is it just me? 🙈
Do you like Scottish Highland romances? Have you read this series? If you’re a fan of highland romances, I’d love to hear your recs! 😉

Romancing Mini-Reviews: ‘Slice’ Series by Teagan Hunter

Hello, hello! I’m back with more romance mini-reviews and this time it’s for another Teagan Hunter series: Slice. This is her most recent series and there are currently three books out, but these reviews will cover the first two books. I will continue with this series eventually but I was hoping book three would be about another male lead and I’m kinda bummed it’s not (lol I swear I’m not salty), so I’m moving on to another romance series for now!

Goodreads: A Pizza My Heart (Slice #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

Most people would probably be embarrassed to land themselves back in their hometown and working at a pizzeria after an ugly divorce.
Not me.
It’s home, and I have one last shot to make Wren Daniels see me as more than just her brother’s best friend.

When the opportunity to show her what’s been right in front of her this whole time presents itself, I take it, holding nothing back this time. Wren thinks we’re pretending, but there’s nothing fake about the way I feel.

After all, she’s always had…a pizza my heart.

I couldn’t wait to read this pun-tastic title so I was disappointed that I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped to. It was a fast and easy read but it took me a good long while to warm up to the characters and what I missed most was the character development. Wren and Foster’s friendship was already an established thing, and I liked when it came through in the cute banter between them, but we also don’t learn a lot about them before now; it’s a lot more tell than show. I felt like the characters were trying hard to be sassy and smart-mouthed but it just came off as obnoxious. Silly decisions that I probably would’ve found quirky in her other series had me questioning ‘why?‘ in this one (like how they named their dog Prison. Who names their dog Prison?!).

That said, while I initially didn’t feel that frisson of… anything between Wren and Foster, that changed as the story went on and then it didn’t take long for me to enjoy their chemistry–and there was definitely a lot of that! This would be a good 4/5 on the steamy scale. What I really enjoyed about this was that the “pining” feelings came from the male’s perspective when it’s usually the opposite!

Goodreads: I Knead You Tonight (Slice #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

I hate Drew Woods, and she hates me.
Even so, I’m not the cold jerk most make me out to be, and I have no problem moving the single mom and her baby into my home. I do, however, draw a line when it comes to acting on the way her loose lips make me feel.

Alive.

She’s too mouthy, too prying, and her curves are way too distracting. I might have lost my way after a nearly fatal car accident, but I’m not stupid. Giving in to Drew would be a short-lived fix for this pain I’m saddled with, and I knead something permanent. I’d be insane to think what we have could be anything other than temporary…right?

YAAS the sassy smart-mouthed characters and the fun AF banter is BACK and I couldn’t be happier! I wasn’t particularly impressed by both Drew or Winston when we’re introduced to them in book one but I’m so glad I read their story because this is the classic Hunter romcom that I was looking for! I loved that there wasn’t a lot of unnecessary angst in this enemies-to-lovers romance. Drew and Winston are a great couple with a maturity and understanding of each other that grew steadily throughout the read, and I do hope that we get to see more of them in future books in the series! I loved their love 🙂

Although Winston came off as a douche when we first meet him, I knew without a doubt that there had to be more to him than meets the eye. My heart broke for him when learning about his backstory especially with the accident. Yes, his pride and stubbornness made his situation worse but I also understand not wanting to be pitied or to feel helpless. I wish that it didn’t take him so long to get his head out of his ass but his character growth was pretty solid throughout and I was really rooting for him! Drew was hard-headed but has all the sass and spunk that I love in a female lead! She was a fiercely determined and hard working single mother. I was surprised by how much I ended up loving her character! The banter between these two was so great and I was constantly cracking up at their sarcastic remarks, and not to mention their chemistry, which was fire! 🔥 This read was a solid 5/5 on the steamy scale!

Overall, I’m glad that I started this series. It was an unsure start but I loved the second book. Although I’m kind of disappointed that the next book in the series isn’t about the male lead I was hoping for, I will be continuing with the series (eventually)!

Have you read the ‘Slice’ series or is it on your TBR?
If you’ve read both series, which one do you prefer?

Romancing Mini-Reviews: ‘Texting’ Series by Teagan Hunter

Last week I posted my review for the first book in Teagan Hunter’s Texting series: Let’s Get Textual. This weekend I binged on the rest of the series and decided to share mini-reviews for the remaining three books. I was really in the mood for some romantic comedies this weekend and this series definitely fulfilled the funny and romance needs and I would highly recommend it if you don’t mind books that are also a little bit on the steamier side 😉

Goodreads: I Wanna Text You Up (Texting #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

When I put up a ROOMMATE WANTED poster, he was the last person on earth I thought would respond. He was also the last person on earth I’d agree to let live with me…on purpose. But, here we are⁠—roommates. I’m certain we can coexist without it being awkward, and I’m determined to make it work. There will be no sexual tension building with each accidental touch, no flutters when he wears that stupid backward baseball cap, and definitely no flirting when we text back and forth.

Caleb Mills can’t be the guy for me. He’s my best friend’s ex-boyfriend.
And that would be wrong…right?

The second book in Teagan Hunter’s Texting series was no less cute and funny as her first! I fell in love with both Zoe and Caleb’s characters when they were introduced in book one and I’m so glad that we finally got their stories — although I was initially surprised to learn that they end up together! They were a very sweet and wholesome couple though and I enjoyed their journey from roommates, friends and eventual lovers. I continued to love Zoe’s fresh and spunky attitude. She was so easy going and it wasn’t difficult to like her character. Caleb was a total sweetheart and my heart absolutely broke for him in this story. He has a much darker past than I expected, I jumped right on that bandwagon thinking he was the typical boy-next-door jock type (just wholesome), but his past and family history was sad to read about. They were so wholesome and this was much more of a slow burn than I anticipated. Their chemistry was undeniable and the steam in this would be a 3 out of 5 on the steamy scale! The one thing I missed in this book was seeing more of Delia and Zach but obviously it’s not their story anymore so they wouldn’t play as much of a role… I missed their hilarious banter though!

Goodreads: Can’t Text This (Texting #3)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

“Hi Monty. Wanna see my python?”
That’s how I ended up in the bathroom of some dive bar with a stranger.
Me, Monty Andrews, the quintessential virgin girl next door.
I was so out of my element, but there was no denying our explosive attraction, even via text.
Commence Operation Bang Each Other Out of Our Systems, because that was all it was⁠—unfinished business. I had no intention of falling back into the sheets with the tattooed, muscly, dirty-in-the-best-kind-of-way single dad over and over again…but I did.
Everything was going great—until we discovered I was his son’s teacher.

Did I simultaneously cringe so hard and laugh my ass off reading that pick up line? Yes. Yes, I did. I can’t deny the cheese factor is high in this one but I think I’ve discovered my second fave book in the series! This was super fun, super steamy and I was cracking up multiple times. To say that I have a thing for guys with tattoos all over would be an understatement — I’m obsessed (with tattoos in general but tattoos on guys? *swoon*)! So it’s safe to say that I really loved Robbie’s character. Robbie is basically my type? He’s a bear with the softest and kindest heart and reading his interactions with Monty not only cracked me up but had me swooning and giggling like a little school girl. Not only that but seeing how he took care of Xavie really had me ‘awwing’. The single dad trope isn’t normally my thing but damn if it didn’t work for Robbie! His constant sexual innuendos and cracks did come off a little bit too much at times but what a laugh! Monty was of course the total opposite to Robbie. She’s conservative/reserved but being with Robbie makes her want to step out of that shell and while you wouldn’t think they’d work, they really work together! I love how her confidence grew throughout the story but I liked that she also didn’t change who she was after meeting him. She was adorable! Yes, the innocent virgin getting with the player ‘bad boy’ is a trope that’s been overdone but I still really enjoyed it here. Their chemistry was intense and so swoon worthy! I’d give this read a 4.5/5 on the steamy scale. It was legit fire! I absolutely loved this one.

Goodreads: Text Me Baby One More Time (Texting #4)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

I love you, he said.
Forever, he said.
Turns out, he lied.


When he leaves me high and dry after a cross-country move, I push him out of my life as much as I can, which is hard to do when the guy who broke your heart also happens to be the most famous dude in town.

After a disastrous year, he’s aiming to rehab his reputation, and I just so happen to be aiming for a promotion at the paper. So, we strike a deal, and it’s a win-win all around. Besides, what’s the harm in a few dates to charity galas anyway? He’s arrogant, a total jerk. There’s no way I’ll fall for him…again. I used to love him. Now I hate him…I think.

Out of the whole series this one probably had the most ‘complex storyline’. If you’ve read the first book of the series you’ll remember our man Shep and the deplorable thing he did at the end. I wanted to smack the shit out of him and I’m glad that someone in the book actually did (and good too)! So you can bet I was surprised to learn that the last book was about him. Was I excited to see if he’d get a HEA? Meh… But I liked the glimpses we got of our female MC in the previous book, so I read on…

The story switches between past and present day. Denny and Shep have a long history that pretty much no one knows about. A history that started with a strong friendship foundation that slowly moved into romance as they continued to exchange texts and got to know each other back in high school. It was an easy progression that didn’t feel at all forced. I did enjoy getting to know more about the two characters and we see how drastically Shep changed over the years, but sadly not for the better. And this is where I face problems with the situation because all of it was a bed of Shep’s own making. I mean, I get it. Being in love can be scary AF and it’s even more shocking when you’re young and you least expect it to happen. At the same time I didn’t feel like his reasons for doing what he did came through strongly enough for me to feel sympathy for him in this situation… There was so much angst that could’ve been avoided if he wasn’t such a knobhead… I loved Denny’s super sassy and feisty character and I wish that she was better treated. There’s no denying that people can change, grow and learn from (terrible) mistakes though! That said, the chemistry between Shep and Denny was also pretty intense and undeniable. All that tension built up over the last five years definitely made itself known and on the steamy scale this was a solid 5/5 lol

Overall, I am glad that I read all the books in this series. Although the last book was my least favourite, we got closure for certain things and of course you can’t feel bad with HEAs! I’m sad that this series has ended because I really enjoyed it and I’m glad that I picked it up thanks to the puntastic title(s)! I’m looking forward to reading more by Teagan Hunter and I think I will read more very soon 😉

Have you read the Texting series or is it on your TBR?
Did you have as much fun reading it as I did?