Top of Her Game by M. Ullrich

I am a sports fan. Love all sport in general, but if you really want to make my heart sing, women’s soccer. When I was a kid I looked up to the superstars of the game,  Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm. They were just awesome! As a grown-up, I have followed the careers of the USWNT, Press, Rapinoe, Morgan and the international wonders, like Marta and Amandine Henry. Love the game, and I love the badass ladies that own the pitch. I have become timid when I pick-up a sports-based romance. Mainly for the reason, sometimes the sport can be written so heavy-handedly you spend more time with gameday analysis than the love connection. I don’t like that at all. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! No, M. Ullrich gives us the best of both worlds with Top of Her Game. So good, so fun, and sexy as hell.

Kenzie Shaw is a rookie striker out of Penn State. She just entered the NWSL draft and was picked up by the New Jersey Hurricanes. This happens to be the team that her soccer idol, national teamer, Sutton Flores. You would think this book would go young player falls for an experienced older teammate… Kind of, but M. Ullrich never follows any ordinary trope. Nope! She shakes things up and gives power to both leading ladies. Kenzie holds her own on and off the field. Sutton experienced but cannot help but melt with Shaw looks her direction.  Their dynamic is fun and it’s passionate, did I say sexy, because it was HOT!

The chemistry and romance were done very well. I believed it, I felt it and I was invested until the last page. I thought Ullrich did a fabulous job when it can to the soccer aspect of the game. Without a doubt, she is a student of the game. It made me smile and brought joy into my heart reading this one. As a soccer junkie and a lover of romance, this book spoke to me. Even if you don’t need sports in your life like I do, this is a really, really good book. The romance is more than enough to keep you satisfied.

Side note, (insert Tiff’s soapbox here). We can all love the USWNT and those amazing World Cup games but if you love those ladies and you love what they are fighting for, turn on an NWSL game. Pick a team, pick a player, whatever floats your boat, but turn it on. Those ladies need you watching on the professional stage as much as the international one. Most games you can watch on an app that cost you zero dollars. Let me know what team you pick!

Beautiful Dreamer by Melissa Brayden

Absolutely freaking adorable! While reading Melissa Brayden’s newest novel, Beautiful Dreamer, I kept thinking are there little red hearts circling me? If not there should be! This book is sexy as hell, sweet as can be and makes you smile the whole way through. Beautiful Dreamer is a direct reflection of why Brayden is the very best at romance.

There is no doubt you should read this book. Brayden is at her very best with this one. Her characters are dynamic, multi-faceted and just so darn likable. The dialogue is rich and quirky, and best of all it sounds and feels real. When you read Beautiful Dreamer you are right there in the moment with our leading ladies. An absolutely stunning 5-star romance. This one I know I will read again and again and my heart is just still so delighted.

A BIG 5 out of 5 stars

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Practice Makes Perfect by Carsen Taite

Carsen Taite is one of my go-to authors. If she writes I’m going to read it and read at that exact moment I will. I know when I pick up one of her books I am going to get a top-notch story. Her newest book Practice Makes Perfect we begin a new series focused around an Austin based law firm owned three besties, Campbell, Grace, and Abby. I knew within the first couple of chapters of Practice Makes Perfect that Taite had written something truly special. I was dazzled!

I am a romance junkie. I love a good medical drama, legal drama, insert trope here, but what truly makes my heart sing for joy is the relationship between the two leading ladies. I want, I need the romance to be the standout. Catch the bad guy, save the life, win the gold, sure, but let’s get back to the love story. Taite in this one brings the romance front and center, and damn it’s good!

Campbell Clark is spontaneous. This character trait serves her well at times. Her spontaneity convinces her overworked besties to quit their well-paying jobs at large established law firms to venture out on their own and open a boutique law firm. This is Campbell’s big idea and now she has to land the client’s to keep her best friends bank accounts in the green and their dream viable.
Wynne Garrity knows all about being over-worked. She is on track to being a partner at her Austin based law firm. She just has to keep killing herself to get there. Her boss is a maniacal jerk, she has zero social life and spends all of her time surrounded in paperwork. It will all be worth it, right?

Wynne and Campbell know each other from law school, Campbell popular and charismatic, Wynne hyper-focused and solitary. There two come back into each other’s life when both of their law firms are trying to woo a Facebook-like company’s account. These two are pitted against each other for the business until the proprietor decides to throw them together to work on a lawsuit. They have to work on this case all the while being the competitor. Not to mention, and this is big, they are wildly attracted to each other. Let the sparks fly!

This book has two fantastic leads, an attention-grabbing plot and that sizzling chemistry that great authors can make jump off the page. While all of Taite’s books are fantastic, this one is on that next level. This is a damn good book and I cannot wait to see what is next in this series.

4.75 out of 5 stars

Not the Marrying Kind by Jae

Jae is one of the premier writers in the romance genre. She knows how to write a romance novel that keeps you engaged and gives you those amazing butterflies. Not the Marrying Kind maybe one of her best books yet. This romance is sweet, well developed and pulls at your heartstrings. This book was so good and I hated to see it end.

While this is a spin-off of A Perfect Rhythm, you definitely do not need to read the latter before you start this one. Our main characters are Ashley and Sasha and the story throws the two protagonists together as they plan the flowers and coordinating wedding cake for their friends Holly and Leo’s upcoming nuptials.

Ashley owns the one and only flower shop in this sleepy mid-west Missouri town. Ashley is deep in the closet, you can count the number of people that know her sexuality on one hand. She is terrified of disappointing her parents and fears that if she is out her business in the conservative community would suffer greatly. Ash has convinced herself that she is fine living her life alone and without a love interest. The risk is just too great.

Sasha is an amazing baker who runs the local bakery. A popular resident who came back home after culinary school. Sasha is a pansexual, who is out but rarely speaks of her sexual preferences or past relationships she had before coming back to her hometown. Ashley was her high school crush but since then they only speak pleasantries to each other in passing.

When Holly and Leo pick their friends to do the cake and the flowers, Sasha and Ashley are thrown together. Sasha pushes Ashley to open up and these two leading ladies develop an amazing friendship with an undercurrent of sexual tension. They are attracted to each other but no it is a no-go.

Where this book really excels is the slow burn racked with emotions. This book pulls that string just tight enough and then gives you all the emotions. I loved the dialogue between the two mains. Ashley’s fear of revealing her sexuality is palatable. You feel her nervous energy pop right off the page. Sasha’s quiet strength gives her the courage to reveal her true self and to stop suppressing all of her emotions. So many feels in this one! THIS BOOK IS SO, SO GOOD!

5 out of 5 Stars

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Alone by E.J. Noyes

Alone by E.J. Noyes is an absolutely stunning book. I mean seriously, this is a book you start and are just riveted page after page. A few chapters in an I asked myself what am I reading. Knowing full well this book is on the next level. Pick it up, read it, and then strap in because you are in for one hell of a ride. My proverbial hat is off you E.J. Noyes because you have written something extraordinary. I will give a little bit of synopsis but I am going to leave you with my final review. This book is not a 5 star, it is well above that. This one is at the pinnacle of the lesbian romance genre. You don’t see books like this on very often. Truly a treasure and one that will stay with you long after the final page.

Celeste Thorne is part of an experiment where she has removed herself from all human contact for over three years. For $500,000 she has not seen, spoken to or had any contact with a human form. It has begun to have taken an effect on her mind but she has not broken. With a half a year left Celeste is hanging in there. Things all take a drastic turn when Olivia Soldano crashes into her remote compound. That’s the basics of the story, now go read it! You will not be disappointed in this gem.

Way better than 5 stars

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Falling by Kris Bryant

The premise for Falling really drew me in. I don’t have a fear of flying but every single time I go through a takeoff, I hold my breath. Not my favorite thing when the plane goes at breakneck speed and launches itself into the air. Totally just shuddered. This book has so many emotions running through it. The beginning is intense and gripping. There is sorrow, pain, doubt but there is also the sweetest romance. This book is by far Kris Bryant’s best work. She nailed every aspect of this book and it is every bit worth the 5 stars of this review.

When we meet Shaylie Beck she is having a crappy day. A long meeting, late flight, sucky seatmates that spend hours making out but she is almost home. Almost. Shaylie takes a last minute bathroom break before the plane begins to descend. That is when all hell really breaks loose. You got it, worst nightmare moments as the plane begins to break apart and head for a crash landing in the forest of Colorado. Shaylie is one of the few survivors.

Piper Cole isn’t on the plane, but her heart is. Her fiance and best friend/business partner are flying home from a business meeting in New York. She lost everything that night when the plane went down. Devastated and alone, Piper trudges on with work as Yoga studio owner but she wants answers as to why the plane went down.

Piper and Shaylie meet in grief counseling and immediately strike up an easy friendship. They become a lifeline for each other. Piper is processing her sadness and pain while Shaylie is going through survivors guilt and learning how to really live. Don’t think this book is the ultimate bummer because it is anything but. While you do witness all their emotions they are both amazing characters that really become endeared to your heart. I absolutely adored their friendship and rooted for the romance the whole time. The supporting characters that are in this book are also written marvelously and really make the book extra special.

This is a story you don’t want to pass on. A fabulous read that you will have a hard time putting down. Maybe don’t read it as you board your plane though. This is an easy 5 stars!

5 out of 5 stars

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Cash and the Sorority Girl by Ashley Bartlett (Cash Braddock | Book 3)

This is the third book in the Cash Braddock series. I live for this series. Live. For. It! I love the paradox that is Cash. This amazing human being with her genuine spirit just pulls to me. On the flip side, she’s a drug dealer so there is there conundrum you find yourself as the reader in. It’s glorious. Totally love Cash, you get it.

In this one, Cash is still a CI for the Sacramento PD, and her handler Laurel, the detective she is head over heels in love with. Cash’s cash flow is stagnant, she wants to get back at the rival dealer that has snaked all her old clients, she has no idea what her future outside of dealing hold yet she is drawn to helping Laurel and her colleagues track down a fresh batch of bad guys. Ketamine is being used at the local university to drug and rape young women specifically at frat parties. It really hits the fan with Laurel’s younger sister, Lane is raped.

If I can say one thing about this book is that Cash and Lane’s friendship and their time together is breathtakingly beautiful and totally awesome. You really feel that bond come right off the page. Cash is there for Lane in a way not many people can understand. Of course, Cash and Laurel are amazing too. Their chemistry just pulls at you. These two have so much baggage and issues yet they get each other. Laurel is having hell with this case, her feelings of how to cope with what happened to Lane. It’s a lot but it is a great read. I desperately need the next one. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I am absolutely addicted to this series.

5 out of 5 stars

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Love to the Rescue (A Rivers Community Romance #5) by Radclyffe

I am always looking for an amazing romance story. Capture my heart, invest me in their story, give me tension, a bit on anguish and a whole lot of delicious spellbinding dialogue. I want that from every book I read. I know a lot to ask, but when I come across one it’s like hitting the lotto. Picking up a Radclyffe book, you are guaranteed it’s going to be good, but this time, this one is great!

Brody Clark is headed home. She signed up to partner with her co-workers, keeping the trio together for a new venture. With little friends and not much to speak of in the way of a personal life this former Army medic didn’t even ask where to move was to when her team asked her to join. The unexpected twist she didn’t account for was the transfer would be bringing her back to the one place she ran from. Growing up, Brody had it hard. Her mother was addicted to drugs, sold her body for income and passed away to young. Brody was taken in by her friend, Flan and lived with the Rivers family through high school. Brody spent her teenage years always in the background quiet and steady but never really knowing her true value. After a late night accident, she left Flann and her new family joining the military and never returning to the one place that held so much of her past.

Dr. Sydney Valentine has come home as well. Val grew up with the Rivers too. She was the wild rich party girl during her teenage years always chasing Flan and whoever else caught her fancy. This teenage reputation is one this veterinarian would rather forget. Back in her home town to assist her injured mentor, Val is confronted with her past, as well as revealing who she really is.

Brody and Val have chemistry for days. Goodness, gracious these two sizzle page after page. Where this book really shines is in the romance department. It is front and center and is just so damn good. An easy five-star book and one I can’t wait to read again. Radclyffe always delivers a good book this just happens to be one of her great ones.

5 out of 5 stars

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My Top Ten Romance Novels of 2018 – BETTER LATE THAN NEVER :)

  • The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley
  • Breaking Character by Lee Winter
  • Blend by Georgia Beers
  • Sparks Like Ours (Seven Shores #3) by Melissa Brayden
  • In Development by Rachel Spangler
  • Just For Show by Jae
  • Under Your Skin by Lee Winter
  • Casting Lacy by Elle Spencer
  • Survival Instincts by May Dawney
  • Black Ridge Falls (Above and Beyond #6) by Jody Klaire 

2018 is in the books and 2019 is here and into February already. I hit a major reading slump, I haven’t had one this bad in years. In terms of books, I thought that this year has some amazing books and a lot that left me wishing for more. This year I found myself going back to some old favorites and re-reading those gems and passing on some of the newer ones. Thanks to all of you on here, I love finding great recommendations from y’all and seeing your thoughts on the books that I loved or felt blah about.

FAVORITE OF 2018: Overall my favorite book of  2018 was an easy choice. Nothing even came close to The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley. This one is  walked right in as an all-time favorite. A book that you go back to time and time again. I read this book wanted to start right back over. 

 

Media Darling by Fiona Riley

Once again Fiona Riley has written an amazing book. I relished in the journey of our two leading ladies. The push and pull of the relationship was absolutely delightful. Once I started reading this one there was no putting it down.

Hayley Carpenter wants more out of her career, a hell of a lot more. This Ivy League grad has ambitions to be a Hollywood screenwriter but to pay the bills she works as a gossip columnist. She loathes her job! At a red carpet event, Hayley sees an indecent by two of Tinseltown’s leading ladies. This info would be a hot ticket but Hayley is honorable and keeps the info to herself, drawing the attention of Emerson Sterling.

Emerson has been a successful actress since childhood. Her dream role is just wrapping, one that will catapult her career to the next leave, but that doesn’t mean her life is peachy. It’s rocky as hell with a mega secret that she long ago buried are threating to leak. After Emerson and Haley meet, Emerson reaches out to Hayley to write the true story about her past and what happened with her ex co-star/lover.

The chemistry between these two is fabulous. It pushes the story and is really the touchstone of the book. Riley is a master of weaving a story but always keeping the focus on the prize, the romance. She builds their relationship and lets the sparks fly. A fabulous read filled with chemistry and fabulous dialogue. As always Fiona Riley brings the heat.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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