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!
I’m going to start by saying that pretty much everything “big” about this series has been spoiled for me long ago because of how insanely popular this series is, and all the incredible art that gets done for it. That’s no one’s fault but my own because I have no chill about those kinds of things. But, despite nothing really being a mind-blowing surprise, and considering the beast this book is in terms of length, I still DEVOURED it. Really, that should tell you everything you need to know and it’s all I’m really letting myself focus on when it comes to “A Court of Mist and Fury”.
“Temple of Ice” follows Tama, a winter mage on the cusp of becoming an elite warrior alongside her two best friends. In Cura’s world, the land has been punished by their goddess to be forever encased in ice, with an evil goddess threatening to emerge and plunge their world into darkness; and no, the bad goddess is not the same as the one who put this land in a deep freeze. Tama learns to appreciate her friends’ differing talents with ice magic, and also finds love in the arms of a beautiful woman who loves Tama’s wild spirit. But Tama, her friends, and her land are suddenly thrust into violence when a betrayal from within threatens to unleash the dark goddess once and for all. The world concept is very cool (heh) and while I liked the sapphic representation in this book, the story as a whole felt like I was reading a companion novella to an already established world/story.
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.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!