Mini Book Review: Blind Side by Kandi Steiner

Blind Side (Red Zone Rivals #2)
Pub Date: 15 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary (Sports) Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

The hottest college football safety in the nation just asked me to be his fake girlfriend.

And I just asked him to take my virginity.

Clay Johnson has the abs of Adonis and the deadly smirk of the devil, himself. There’s hardly a day he’s not headline material during football season, and never a day he isn’t a bullseye target for every girl on campus.

He used to be the easiest of all the players for me to wrangle as the Public Relations Coordinator, but after a nasty breakup with his high school sweetheart, he’s a mess.

And a complete pain in my ass.

We meet to discuss his behavior and review media relations standards. But when he witnesses how I fall to pieces in front of my guitar-toting crush, his wheels start turning. And he cooks up this absurd plan.

He helps me get noticed.
I help him make his ex jealous.
All by pretending to be in a relationship.

What he doesn’t realize is that this bookworm is a virgin, and far from versed in seducing a musician. So, to sweeten the deal, I convince him to help me — not just to get my crush’s attention, but to knock his socks off once I have it.

But the more I come unraveled at the hands of Clay Johnson, the more trouble I have discerning what’s fake and what’s undoubtedly real — particularly, the way my heart flutters every time that breathtaking man touches me.

We set the rules. We put the safeguards in place.

But they say rules are meant to be broken.
They probably should have added that hearts are, too.

Blind Side is a fake dating college sports romance with “lessons” and opposites attract. It is a complete stand-alone.

TL;DR: This had the fake-dating and popular jock/bookish virginal nerd tropes with a good bit of angst and a whole lot of funny, swoony and steamy moments in between! This was my first book by Kandi Steiner and I’m glad to say that I really enjoyed it! Blind Side was simply a good-time read and with how much I enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to checking out more by this author.

I really liked Giana and Clay together and I loved how their relationship evolved from something surface-level to something deeper and much more romantic. It’s so great when couples develop a strong friendship and the level of openness and trust that forms between these two made their romance that much stronger. There was a genuineness to their interactions that made this romance feel a lot more realistic!

Giana was an absolute sweetheart and a romance-loving bookworm. She’s shy and doesn’t see herself as anything special coming from a family of overachieving siblings but I loved how she grew confident in herself as the book progresses. She is an ‘innocent/virginal’ FMC but I don’t feel like she comes off as “not-like-other-girls” and actually, it was great to see her actually open up sexually (also thanks to romance novels)! I loved Clay and my heart went out to him in his situation. He’s a typical jock in many ways but he also has a people-pleasing side and would do anything to help the people he cares about even if it means putting himself last. It took him a while to get to a place where he’d put himself first and it did generate a fair bit of angst but it didn’t get overly dragged out and I loved the support he got from his friends and teammates to get him there. That grand gesture at the end was so swoontastic and honestly, sickeningly sweet and I loved it! 😍 Their chemistry was off-the-charts and the steamy moments were fire-hot thanks to Clay reading Giana’s romance novels and taking notes on what she likes! 😉🔥

Overall, this was a really fun sports romance though it did have a few more serious moments dealing with a toxic parental relationship and a bit of romantic angst at the end. Giana and Clay were really great characters who more than deserved their HEA and I’m already really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Have you read Blind Side or is it on your TBR?

Book Review: The Belle and the Beard by Kate Canterbary

Goodreads: The Belle and the Beard (The Santillian Triplets #3)
Publisher: Vesper Press
Published: 23 April 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Jasper-Anne Cleary’s guide to salvaging your life when you find yourself publicly humiliated, out of work, and unemployable at 35—not to mention newly single:

1. Run away. Seriously, there’s no shame in disappearing. Go to that rustic old cottage your aunt left you. Look out for the colony of bats and the leaky roof. Oh, and the barrel-chested neighbor with shoulders like the broad side of a barn. Definitely look out for him.
2. Stop wallowing and stay busy. It doesn’t matter whether you know how to bake or fix things around the house. Do it anyway. Dust off your southern hospitality and feed that burly, bearded neighbor some pecan pie.
3. Meet new people. Chat up the grumpy man-bear, pretend to be his girlfriend when his mother puts you two on the spot, agree to go as his date to a big family party. Don’t worry—it’s only temporary.
4. Cry it out. Screwing up your life entitles you to wine, broody-moody music, and uninterrupted sobbing.
5. Get over it all by getting under someone. Count on your fake boyfriend to deliver some very real action between the sheets.
6. Move on. The disappearing act, the cottage, the faux beau—none of it can last forever.

Linden Santillian’s guide to surviving the invasion when a hell-in-heels campaign strategist moves in next door:

1. Do not engage. There is no good reason you should chop her wood, haul her boxes, or pick her apples.
2. Do not accept gifts, especially not the homemade ones. Disconnect the doorbell, toss your phone over a bridge, hide in the basement if you must, but do not eat her pie.
3. Do not introduce her to your friends and family. They’ll favor her over you and never let you forget it.
4. Do not intervene when she’s crying on the back porch. Ignore every desire to fix the entire world for her. By no means should you take her into your arms and memorize her peach-sweet curves.
5. Do not take her to bed, even if it’s just to get her out of your system.
6. Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with her.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Sexism, slut-shaming recounted, alcohol consumption, drug use mentioned, pregnancy & childbirth mentioned, grief & loss depiction, recounted death of an aunt and death of a father from suicide recounted

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Cover Reveal: Off the Ice by Jaqueline Snowe

Hello, friends, I’m excited to be sharing a cover reveal with you today for Off the Ice by Jaqueline Snowe! This is the fourth book in her Central State series and I’m really excited to see where Snowe takes this couple after meeting them in the previous book, Take the Lead. I have a feeling things are going to get angsty and heated and we’re so here for it! 🔥 Check out my reviews for From the Top (#2) and Take the Lead (#3)!

Now without further ado… The cover! 😍

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Book Review: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Elizabeth O’Roark

Goodreads: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Devil #2)
Published: 20 January 2022
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

When Drew Wilson’s ex-boyfriend Joel “Six” Bailey asks her to go on his family trip to Hawaii with him just as her life is falling apart, she decides it’s the perfect time to give him another chance.

The hitch? The Bailey family includes Six’s rude older brother, Joshua—a hot-nerd doctor who has hated Drew since the moment they met and once suggested she’d steal the family silver.

Drew is determined to win the Baileys over and give this thing with Six a fair shot…but Joshua is making that difficult. Not simply because he is in her way at every turn, but because—as one tropical adventure leads to the next—she’s beginning to wonder if obnoxious, odious Joshua might be the brother she actually belongs with.

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Cover Reveal: Take the Lead by Jaqueline Snowe

Hello, hello, friends! I’m so excited to be sharing a cover reveal with you today for Take the Lead by Jaqueline Snowe. I read into the hints that the author dropped for this couple in From the Top, the second book in her Central State series, and I’ve been looking forward to their romance ever since! I have a feeling it’s gonna be a fave!?

Related: Check out my review for From the Top!

Now without further ado… Check out this awesome cover! 😍

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ARC Review: Everything for You by Chloe Liese

Special thanks to Chloe Liese for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Everything for You (Bergman Brothers #5)
Publication date: 10 May 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)


Gear up for an all-the-feels, steamy slow-burn in this enemies-to-lovers sports romance about fighting for love when life’s taught you it’s a losing game.

Gavin
We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin. Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver
Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me. To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.

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ARC Review: Burning Up by Tara Wyatt

Special thanks to the author for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Burning Up (The Prescotts #6)
Publication Date: 26 April 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

We have to burn to rise from the ashes.

Nearly two years after her divorce, Felicity Hawthorne is ready to date again. At least, she thinks she would be, if the idea of dating wasn’t so freaking terrifying. But then she wins a date with sexy, swoony firefighter Noah Prescott at a charity bachelor auction, and everything changes.

FDNY captain Noah isn’t looking for a relationship. Since losing his father as a teenager, he’s spent the past twenty years shouldering heavy responsibilities, and he knows he doesn’t have the time or energy to be anyone’s boyfriend. But one date with sweet, charming Felicity has him wanting things he shouldn’t want.

Which is why Noah suggests Felicity practice her budding dating skills with him. He wants more of her, and practice dates are as close as he can come to having her in his life without hurting her. But then dating practice turns into practice of another kind—the kind that involves moans and sighs and orgasms—and Noah knows he’s going to fall. Hard.


GET A COPY:

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ARC Review: Tanked by Mia Hopkins

Special thanks to Little Stone Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Tanked (Eastside Brewery #3)
Publisher: Little Stone Press
Publication Date: 26 April 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

A fighter without a purpose. A crusader with nothing to lose. Can she trust him with her heart, or is he just another lost cause?

Angel
By day, I do all the grunt work at my family’s struggling L.A. brewery. By night, I blow off steam at an underground fight club. I never thought the pandemic would bring Deanna Delgado back into my life—the woman who ghosted me three years ago after one unforgettable night. But the brewery needs a miracle to survive. And that miracle could cost me the only person who’s ever had faith in me.

Deanna
My family calls me an idealistic do-gooder, but I see a better, brighter future for my community. My biggest problem? I’ve just lost the job I love. To ease my pain, I’ve hooked up with Angel Rosas, the filthy-sweet one-night stand who’s somehow dropped back into my life. There’s so much more to Angel than he lets on. Is he the man I can trust with my body and my heart? Or is he just another lost cause?


GRAB A COPY:

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ARC Review: Those Three Little Words by Meghan Quinn

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

Goodreads: Those Three Little Words (The ancouver Agitators #2)
Publication Date: 05 April 2022
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

I knocked up my best friend’s sister.
Figured I would get straight to the point because how it happened is a mere snippet of the story I have to tell. The real meat and potatoes is what happened after.

Let’s start with how she decided to inform me and Pacey the news…together. Imagine that nightmare. I was going into what I thought was a hockey marketing meeting and then BAM! I’m going to be a dad and my best friend/teammate is attempting to imprint my face with his fist.
It wasn’t pretty.

Threats were tossed around, friendships were revoked, and then I was marched up to her apartment, suitcases in hand, and forced to live with her so I could take care of her every need. Given how much I’ve pined for the girl, you would think that wouldn’t be a hardship.
Wrong.

This is my one shot to win my teammate back. Pacey is the only family I’ve got, so hooking up with his sister isn’t a mistake I can make twice…despite the fact that she’s pregnant with my child. But with every mood swing, every pair of pants that doesn’t fit right, and every late night run to find the perfect donut, I’m finding it harder and harder not to fall for my best friend’s little sister.
Especially when she kisses me…

  Download today or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

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ARC Review: One-Timer by Teagan Hunter

🎉 HAPPY RELEASE DAY! 🎉

Special thanks to Valentine PR for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: One-Timer (Carolina Comets #3)
Publication Date: 24 March 2022
Genre: Sports Romance, Romantic Comedy
Panda Rating:

(3.75 pandas)

“I’m pregnant.”

That’s what my teammate’s sister-in-law told me after our one-night stand.

I didn’t expect to see Hollis again, let alone end up raising a child with her.

We set some ground rules–we’ll raise the baby together, but that’s it.
No relationship, no future, and definitely no kissing.

But the more time we spend together, the harder it is to keep track of where the lines were once drawn.

I’m known for my one-timer on and off the ice, but this game with Hollis just got a lot more complicated…

  Download today or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

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