A Merry Little Meet Cute – Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone

Screen Shot 2022-07-21 at 2.46.48 PMPublisher: Avon

Date of Publication: September 20th, 2022

Page Count: 432

From the Jacket:

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.

Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.

But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.

And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AM

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Genre: Holiday, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy

Okay, here’s the set up: Nolan Shaw, a notorious former boy band member with a bad boy reputation is in image clean up mode when he signs on to do a Hopeflix (think Hallmark Channel) Christmas movie with one of America’s most wholesome actresses. After a freak accident at UnFestival (think Burning Man) renders the star and several key crew members unable to participate in the movie days before production, quick decisions must be made. 

Enter Teddy Ray Fletcher (secretly known for Uncle Ray-Rays porn production studio) who is trying to diversify his income stream and keep his past and his new venture with the Hope Channel completely separate. At a harried airport meeting hours before production is set to begin, Teddy accidentally hands over the resume for one of his most successful adult stars, Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca von Honey) to the film’s director, who is immediately drawn to Bee but unaware of her current career. Knowing Bee’s intense desire to branch out into more mainstream film and his inability to sway the director towards a different choice finds Teddy reluctantly giving in. While he’s at it, he sends over a few other crew members from Uncle Ray Rays to fill in the rest of the gaps. How hard could it be to keep all of this a secret for a three weeks on a film set? 

Everyone is sworn to secrecy and Bee and Nolan are forced to make promises to be on their best behaviors by their respective managers. However, sparks immediately fly when Bee, who happens to be holding a decade long crush on Nolan and Nolan, who is one of Bianca von Honey’s most dedicated fans on ClosedDoors (think OnlyFans) meet for the first time on set. Nolan has to hide his increasingly aggressive erections while pretending he doesn’t know that Bee is Bianca and Bee has to pretend like she isn’t losing her actual mind every time he looks at her. If the Hope Channel finds out about Teddy or Bee they’ll almost certainly drop the film, cutting off Teddy’s new income stream and Bee’s chances of branching out. If anyone finds out that Nolan is aware of who Bee actually is, it’ll ruin his attempts to clean up his image and cut off his new desperately needed income stream. Should be fine.

Narrator – It was not fine. 

Listen, is this scenario believable or feasible in any way? Absolutely not. Did that bother me? Not even for one moment. I devoured this holiday treasure in two sittings. A Merry Little Meet Cute is ridiculous in all of the best ways, steamy and queer as hell, super sex positive, body positive, and absurdly swoon worthy. We had two chaotic bisexual leads with fantastic chemistry, a hilarious and rich cast of side characters, and a story that I would absolutely love to see adapted to film. This one brought me a lot of joy and is the perfect read for any time of year. Thanks so much to Avon for the opportunity to read an early copy. A Merry Little Meet Cute comes out on 9/20 and I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a very long partnership between Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone. 

Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake – Mazey Eddings

Screen Shot 2022-07-27 at 2.49.14 PMPublisher: St Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: September 6th, 2022

Page Count: 336

From the Jacket:

Lizzie has made endless mistakes. Kitchen fires, pyramid schemes, bangs (of the hair and human variety), you name it, she’s done it… and made a mess of it too. One mistake she’s never made is letting anyone get closer to her than a single hook-up. But after losing yet another bakery job due to her uncontrolled ADHD, she breaks her cardinal rule and has a two-night-stand that changes everything.

Once burned, twice shy, Rake has given up on relationships. And feelings. And any form of intimacy for that matter. Yet something about charming, chaotic Lizzie has him lowering his guard. For two nights, that is. Then it’s back home to Australia and far away from the pesky feelings Lizzie pulls from him. But when Lizzie tells him she’s got an unexpected bun in the oven, he’ll do whatever it takes to be a part of his child’s life… except be emotionally vulnerable, obviously. He’s never going to make that mistake again.

Through a series of mishaps, totally “platonic” single bed sharing, and an underground erotic baking scheme, Lizzie and Rake learn that even the biggest mistakes can have the most beautiful consequences.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AM

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

When Mazey Eddings first started posting about her upcoming novel, Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake, she mentioned face sitting by page 25 and I was like SIGN ME UP. Despite absolutely loving her debut novel, A Brush with Love, I went into this one with a little bit of skepticism because I tend to really loathe the surprise pregnancy trope. I’m so very glad I gave Lizzie and Rake a shot because I fell hard and fast for the both of them. Rake, a buttoned up Aussie, is EVERYTHING. He’s so patient, thoughtful, and kind, all sorts of sexy, and just the very best listener. I found myself immediately relating to Lizzie, an ADHD heroine who needs physical touch like she needs air to breathe. The two of them together, forget about it. Their chemistry was explosive and hilarious, which to me is the perfect combination. 

Eddings’ thoughtful portrayal of life with ADHD as both the person living with it and how it impacts those close to her was my favorite aspect of this book. Just like with Harper’s anxiety in A Brush with Love, Eddings’ takes so much care with the details and never tries to sweep away the uglier aspects. I appreciated so much how Rake never makes any assumptions or judgements about Lizzie’s abilities or how much she does or doesn’t care about something. When she forgets or gets upset or starts to freak out, he just listens, he makes accommodations, he defends her to her friends and family. 

I also really enjoyed how despite the fact that their one night stand turns into a full fledged relationship because of an accidental pregnancy, the story does not revolve too much around the pregnancy. Instead, the focus is on how the two of them will create a life as co parents despite being basically strangers and how Lizzie will cope with the new demands of motherhood. I believe wholeheartedly that friends make the best lovers and the friendship that grows between Lizzie and Rake, at times more intimate than the one she shares with even her longest standing friends, was such a joy to read. Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake comes out tomorrow and you definitely won’t want to miss it! Thanks so much to St Martin’s for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! I will read anything Mazey Eddings writes forevermore. 

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Love on the Brain – Ali Hazelwood

Screen Shot 2022-07-21 at 2.47.42 PMPublisher: Berkley Romance

Date of Publication: August 23rd, 2022

Page Count: 368

From the Jacket: 

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AM

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Donning my purple wig on a random Monday in order to channel my inner Bee in the hopes that Levi Ward will come and find me and sweep me off my feet. My eternal gratitude to Berkley Romance for the opportunity to read an early copy of Ali Hazelwood’s sophomore novel, Love on the Brain, which comes out tomorrow and you absolutely do not want to miss. After book edging this one really hard, I read this in a single sitting yesterday. I have so many thoughts and emotions swirling around in my brain. I have not swooned this hard since I read A Taste of Blood and Iron earlier this year and while that one remains my favorite, Love on the Brain is a very, very close second. 

I woke up this morning replaying the scenes between Levi and Be like they were something that happened to me and not just characters that I read about. You know that scene in Twilight (I know but bear with me) where it’s the morning after Bella and Edward have finally hooked up and she’s just like looking in the mirror and touching her lips while she relives every moment? Ya, that was me today but minus the lip touching because I’m not completely unhinged (but only just). I have fallen so hard and I’m not sure when I’ll recover. There are several pages of quotes I’m dying to share but I need to get my hands on a final copy before I do that but just know they are coming. Love on the Brain has 

– enemies to lovers (but only vibes because he’s actually head over heels in love with her and trying desperately to hide it because he thinks she’s married)

– a series of increasingly upsetting misunderstandings that had me wondering how Hazelwood was going to sort it so I could love Levi as much as my heart was telling me to (don’t worry because she totally did)

– a hilariously wonderful sapphic side story that is that meme of a black house next to a purple & pink house personified 

– the swooniest hero I’ve read in a while and my favorite new book boyfriend

– badass women in STEM

– that trope where the MCs are already anonymously close online but don’t know it yet (but in this case it isn’t the source of the conflict which made it so much better)

– great banter and even better steam

A bit more about that last point. I love steamy romance books and have read all sorts of them at this point. They’re all delightful in their own ways but sometimes I find myself reading one that has intimate moments that feel so perfectly tailored to the characters that I find it impossible to imagine that they’ve been made up. Ali Hazelwood has accomplished this to perfection with Levi and Bee. Their scenes are so raw and tender and brain meltingly sexy. I could go on for thousands more words about this one but I’d rather you just read it and then come thank me when you (hopefully) fall as hard as I did. And I really really hope we get at least one bonus chapter from Levi’s perspective, though I don’t know that I could handle it.

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