If you’re looking for a cozy thriller that has a team of young women with Charlie’s Angels vibes, tech that even James Bond would be jealous of, and with just a sprinkling of sweet romance, then “Spies Never Quit” may just be for you. In the first book of the series (each book following a different woman in the group) follows Mari, a brand-new college freshman, as she attempts to rescue her mother. Mari’s mother is a brilliant scientist working on nano-bot technology who has been kidnapped in order to force her to give up her specialized codes for evil gains. Mari would do anything to save her mother, and, lucky for her, retrieving her mother’s work just so happens to be the Banana Girls mission, too. Normally, I am all for a spy thriller with a predominately female cast of characters, but something always felt just a tad off to me throughout the story.
Ever since reading “The Girl with the Stars in Her Eyes” I’ve been waiting for a new release from Axelrod, and behold! She is here and she is stunning! “Love on the Byline” follows former college classmates and secret crushes as they reconnect five years later. Now, Blake is a cub reporter at a gossip magazine that she hates, and Oliver is the best friend turned personal assistant to her latest celebrity assignment: the arrogant Brandon Cody, who, on first appearances, doesn’t look like he’s changed much from when she last saw him. But, much like Axelrod’s previous release, our main cast of characters are filled with a surprising amount of depth, accomplish huge growth amidst interpersonal mysteries and secrets, oh, and have palpable tension and steamy encounters, all packed into a very smooth contemporary romance. Seriously, Axelrod is quickly becoming one of my auto-buy authors!
This was my first Emily Henry book after hearing so many good things about her contemporary romances. The thing everyone raves the most about? Her character banter and “Book Lovers” definitely delivered on that front! We follow a shark of a literary agent, Nora, as she tries to bridge the invisible gap between her and her baby sister with a semi-spontaneous month-long trip to the very location her best selling client based HER romance book on. Once there, Nora runs into the grumpy editor who she is convinced hates her after he passed on her client’s book. Cue small town romance! The very thing Nora says will never happen to her. This book is incredibly meta in regards to its story, and it was a little odd (in a good way) to read about two people in the publishing business as an author myself—it was fun but also plays into the self-aware nature this book is steeped with. But this book felt more like a family drama than a romance.
“Once Ghosted, Twice Shy” is my first Alyssa Cole book. So many of my friends love her romances so it’s about time I gave her a try! But of course, I decided to challenge myself further with reading her standalone, sapphic novella in her Reluctant Royals series rather than one of the main books. I’m still a bit uncertain about this author, but I think the fault is mine with starting where I did. This cute little story follows Likotsi, assistant most high to the prince, and Fabiola, an aspiring Instagram model and jewelry maker who both swipe right knowing that their initial meeting was just going to be a fling. But these captivating and beautiful women end up needing and wanting so much more from each other. I like the dual timeline POV and how that weaved these characters stories together and gave them a history that is otherwise so hard to establish in a novella, but personally, I don’t think the novella format worked for me.
If you are a fan of slow burn, rock-and-roll romances in stand alone contemporary books, and also happen to be a big music aficionado, I cannot recommend “The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes” enough. We follow our FMC as she navigates the recording world, having finally left her middle of nowhere town and gotten away from her less than stellar home life, all after being abandoned by the boy who swore they’d escape together and make a name for themselves together. Toni is an incredible guitarist, but in a world that’s still very much sexist (and racist though the author focuses more on the sexist aspects) Toni, who prefers to work behind the scenes, is constantly passed up for her less talented, male counterparts. It’s after one such encounter where the boy who broke her teenage heart comes back unexpectedly into her life. What follows after that meeting is a sweet, sort of second chance romance that really dives deep into the characters, their emotions, and growth from who they were as teenagers, to who they are when the book starts, and beyond. It’s a well written character driven romance, even if the book does feel its length at times.
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