Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Favorite Couples: the High Heels and Suits edition

Contemporary romance, or the genre that's just like everyday life, except there may be a tad too many rich attractive businessmen and fancy global empires to accurately reflect the demographic. Nevertheless, a girl can dream, can't she? Here are our favorite couples that make us wish, once in a while, that we have our own attractive dreamboat who'd sweep us off our feet:


I'm not sure if I really have a type when it comes to fictional men, although I will admit I find certain kinds of moments in books attractive, like when one half is on their knees for the other (and not in that way I swear.) I'm always satisfied as long as I can firmly believe the two characters are on equal ground at the end and wholeheartedly do deserve each other.

Lucy and Josh are the classic hate to love trope. They're coworkers who spend an intense amount of time together alone and scorn each other for everything the other stands for, courtesy of a merger between their two respective old companies. What makes this book special to me is that neither party does anything outright malicious to the other, which is something I sadly see in many hate to love books, and the slow burn love is so worth every delightful word. I was smiling and gushing all throughout this book, and honestly robins-egg blue will never mean the same to me again.

When characters (mostly heroes and men) try to be noble idiots it always frustrates me in books, but surprise surprise Laura Florand won me over completely in this one. Joss is a frustrating hero but you can never doubt his love for Celie and I loved the bittersweet and complex emotions that Laura writes between them. They both have flaws, and watching them reconcile the very true love they have for each other with their own personalities is just so great to read. Bonus: you get to see glimpses of how adorable one of Lisa's fave couples Dom and Jaime are together in this too.

Lisa and I raved about this book in our review last month, but yay you get to hear me rave again. Tristan is an utter sweetheart and I loved seeing him fall all over himself to help Malorie who is so much less open than him. They grew up together so they know each other so well, but their families are also old old enemies, so there's an instinctive wariness on Malorie's part. She's tough and reserved, but she's a perfect match to Tristan's open and charming self, and they see each other's virtues so clearly it makes me quite sappy.

Throwing in an old but good one in here, because these two characters hold a very dear place in my heart. Anne is such a lovely heroine, with the most creative ideas and sharpest wits and watching her go from an orphan to the brilliant young woman is truly a marvel. Gilbert is her steadfast academic rival and local golden boy, and it's so endearing to see them fall in love with each other. Sunbursts and moonlit walks and all the romantic trimmings guys. It's considered a literary gem for a reason and it's a definite must-read.

 This is probably one of the most high-key angst-filled couples by far. Lily is the cutest comic geek introvert and Lo is a dry sharp-tongued asshole with cheekbones that cut like ice. They're as adorable and cuddly as their signature piggy back rides are but their journey to recovery (due to the separate addictions they both have) is just sob-worthy and gut-wrenching to the max. 


It's a known fact among my friends that when it comes to men in fiction, I have a type. Specifically speaking, I have a thing for broody alpha men, and I more than adore the great women who bring them to their knees. Without further ado, these are my favourite romance couples and why I love them:

People have layers, is what I get from this book. Damien longs for somebody who sees him not as the cold, ruthless assassin of a businessman that he portrays himself, and Jess tries so hard to break away from the ditzy stereotype that comes with releasing her perfume. There is so much angst and hurt at the start of the book because they didn't part ways amicably the first time, and I love all the emotions that come with it. Damien and Jess both are the stubborn sort, and it's wonderful seeing them overcome their trust issues and open up to each other. Also, I can never look at figs the same way again.

A thing worth mentioning about Laura Florand's male characters is that they are so emotional. Like Dominique is described as this rough-looking type who came from the wrong side of town and swears too much but he is truly a teddy bear who freaks out and loses his cool at the sight of his crush. It is so adorable watching him trying to woo Jaime who's been through a lot, and he tries to be all soft for her oh my god I can't stand it-

I screamed when I got approved for the ARC (book comes out Feb 20th!); I love Lucy Parker's Act Like It so much, and Pretty Face truly tops it. I screamed even more going in when I found that it has one of my favourite tropes in it: the age gap trope. Luc is a grumpy 40 year old theatre director while Lily is a twenty-something TV actress with West End dreams, and I adore their romance because of how they developed from mutual dislike to eh, I guess you're ok? to admiration to oh my god, what is this feeling in my chest?. I love their little touches (they can't stop touching each other!) and banter. It's never too early to say that this book is one of my favourite romance reads this year.

It's always the quiet ones... Okay so what does a health nut professor and a baker have in common? Nothing, it seems. Like Gracie, I thought I had James pegged but nope, he's totally different than what I expected him to be before I started reading his book. I love seeing James losing bit of his control when it comes to Gracie. Their health food vs cupcakes battle is always so entertaining. The reason why I love them so much is the way Gracie mellows James a bit and how James slowly convinces Gracie that she's the big picture girl.

Hashtag relationship goals, period. They're the Dream Team, the people everyone turn to for guidance, the ones with their shit together, the King and Queen of an 8-kid empire... Will I ever stop swooning at Connor's "You're not a pit stop. You're my finish line." line?

Disclaimer: We've both realized, in hindsight, that this list is sorely lacking in diversity and while we both read more diversely than this list reflects, contemporary romance is a genre that requires more effort and branching out on our part, unfortunately. We're hoping to focus more on diverse romance books this coming year and beyond, thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

ARC Review: Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

Pretty Face
(London Celebrities #2)
by Lucy Parker
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: February 20th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | Kobo 

The play's the fling 

It's not actress Lily Lamprey's fault that she's all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that's not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn't so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He'd be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily's suddenly rising career, it's threatening Luc's professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they're not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…


I thought I loved Act Like It, but then I read Pretty Face. 

I procrastinated writing this review because I simply didn't know how to coherently express my feelings about this book. I still don't know how, though, but I'm going to try anyway.

So I've mentioned this before and I'm saying it again: it isn't too early to declare this book as one of the best romance I've read this year, and it's definitely a 2017 favourite of mine. I've been consistently rereading it ever since I first finished the ARC, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.

What did it for me is the characters. Lucy Parker writes amazing characters, spectacular banter, and intense chemistry. I found myself instantly charmed by Lily Lamprey, a 26 year old TV actress who dreams of making it big on the stage. I admire her attitude and her strong determination to prove herself to the world that no, she does not need to rely on her looks or so-called sexual talents to succeed. I feel so bad for her portrayal in the media; the tabloids made her out as a bit of a bimbo who sleeps with casting directors for roles, and it's just heartbreaking to see how she has to grow a thick skin to protect herself. Luc Savage is a 40 year old grouchy theatre director who captures my heart almost immediately too despite being a bit of a judgmental jerk with a sharp tongue. What can I say--I have a soft spot for grumpy men. [See: Richard Troy, Laura Florand's Mattheiu Rosier]

Luc and Lily is so adorable together. Did I mention that this book has not one, not two, but three of my favourite tropes: the age gap, the forbidden romance, the hate to love? Talk about catnip! To quote myself again (LOL), I love how their relationship developed from mutual dislike to eh, I guess you're ok? to admiration to oh my god, what is this feeling in my chest?. I love how Luc easily admitted that he was wrong to judge Lily at the beginning of the book, and apologized for being wrong. I love how protective he was about Lily, and I'm a big fan of heroes who are totally smitten with their heroines and act like little boys with big crushes around them. I also died every time Luc and Lily made eye contact with, argued with, flirted with, and touched each other--I basically experienced multiple deaths in one reading. No big deal at all, nope.

Also worth mentioning that Richard and Lainie also made a cameo in this one. I missed them so much I immediately reread Act Like It after I finished Pretty Face. Best moment: the scene when Richard genuinely grinned for the first time and explained why he called Lainie Tigger. Honorary shoutout to Lily's dad Jack Lamprey and Luc's parents Celie and Cam Savage for being awesome. What I'd give for a prequel bonus scene or novella about those three...hint, Lucy, hint.

One of my favourite quotes:

Savages play by the rules; Lampreys get things done.

In a nutshell, Lucy Parker has outdone herself with this one. I can't wait for her next book (I hope it'll be soon!). In the meantime, let me just reread this one for the umpteenth time and cry because I'm going to die alone unloved...

E-ARC is received thanks to the publisher via Netgalley. 
Quote is taken from uncorrected proof. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Favorite Couples: the Petticoats and Gentlemen edition

It is a truth universally acknowledged that picking favorites is difficult. So for this Valentine's Day, we have decided to do not one, not two, but three posts on our favorite romantic pairings, categorized by genre. The first of these posts is historical romance, where we share the lords and ladies that have made us fall in love. Consequently, we ended up choosing books from 4 specific authors that we both enjoy, though you'll see where our biases and favorites lie.

Honorary Favorite

When we made our top 5 lists, we both ended up choosing this couple:

Evie and Sebastian from Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Eri:  Devil in winter was one of my first historical romances I've probably read, it definitely has a cult status in the world of romance readers I think and it's probably the one book I freely rec to all of my friends. Watching Sebastian come to care for Evie and how sweet they are together is a delight and I pick this book up all the time, I dare say I've practically memorized all the scenes (this isn't an exaggeration.)

Lisa: I'm a big Sebastian St. Vincent fan; he's my top favourite historical romance hero. The reason why I love this couple so much is the way Sebastian, a true rake, fell for his wife more and more as their story progressed. He was so hopelessly in love by the end of the book it's just so entertaining to watch (and reread all over again).


Most of my favorite couples share a defining characteristics of angst, intense chemistry, and just being the sweetest and most gush-worthy but to add a few more details:

 If you've noticed, I have quite a few books by Sarah MacLean in here. I may have the slightest obsession with her books, especially A Rogue By Any Other Name, because it's both utterly romantic and devastating. Penelope and Bourne are childhood friends and when they reunite you get all the bittersweet flashbacks and emotions but also the angst because of who Bourne is now. "You always liked him best" and all the other variations of this sentiment/quote make me weepy and I just have a lot of feelings about this couple.

 The Hathaways series is my favorite series from Lisa Kleypas, which is saying a lot since I've read all of her historicals, even her super early ones (they're quite...interesting.) Beatrix is possibly the sweetest heroine in the world and the family dynamics in this series are top-notch + the romance is delightful. Also Bea loves animals and she has the most adorable pets like a hedgehog, it's just great.

 King is an utter asshole actually, even by regency standards, but I loved hate-love banter betwen Sophie and him. It wouldn't be a Sarah MacLean without the angst and mythological references and this book just took devastating to a whole new level. Also, the Talbot sisters were modeled after the Kardashian sisters, and it is so fun to read about them.

 Pippa and Cross are just the cutest and sweetest, they're paired up so well and I felt so much for bluestocking Pippa. There's one scene where Pippa names Cross' bones to relax herself and it's just great. Anyway, you should read Sarah's books because they're awesome.

 I'm a little late on the Courtney Milan train, I'm sure Lisa will go into more detail, but Jane is such a wonderful heroine, so strong and such a queen, and seeing Oliver completely fall for her was the best. Courtney always has such incredibly complex characters and the slow-burn romance in this just breaks you.


I think what my favourite ships all have in common are great character banter, off the charts chemistry, and intense sexual tension, but let me say a few words on why I love them:

  • Miranda and Smite from Courtney Milan's Unraveled
 Miranda and Smite are my favourite female and male characters by Courtney Milan. I love that Smite, who has a boatload of issues and copes by limiting his feelings to a daily quota, become so emotionally unraveled when Miranda "comma" Darling enters his life. I love how they are together because they work; Miranda doesn't try to change him, and he learns that opening himself to caring and loving other people does not weaken him.

 One thing I really love about Courtney Milan's writing is the character banter. Minerva and Robert have that in spades. Also, two words: wedding night.

 Charlotte is probably my favourite Tessa Dare female. She is so full of life and fun she gives Piers a headache. She is also very smart and knows what she wants, and it's fun to read the exact point where Piers realizes that he can't contain her, and he's surprisingly fine with that. Did I mention that Piers is a secret agent?

Pauline is also another favourite of mine. She's a foul-mouth book-loving barmaid who is totally wrong for Griffin on paper, but is exactly what he needs otherwise. He hires her to sabotage his mother's matchmaking plans, and falls in love with her instead. Also, two words: role play. I love kinky couples, lol.

 Harry is a type of an anti-hero that I love; he plays dirty to get what he wants, he is a straight-up shark and even he is helpless under the Hathaway charm. Poppy is no weakling either; I love that she gives back as good as she gets and never makes it easy for Harry to woo her.

We hope you enjoyed reading through this list as much as we did writing! Stay tuned for the next list up tomorrow, the wonderful genre of contemporary romance.