Friday Fun Review: “Accidentally Engaged” by Farah Heron

Accidentally EngagedAccidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this one! (and loved the audio version too!)

This book is delicious. Well, not the actual book, but all the food mentioned had my mouth watering.



And the story was delightfully cute and funny. It’s just the right combination of food and fun for a novel.

Premise: Reena Manji hates her job. She’d rather be nurturing sourdough starters (that she’s named) and cooking than doing finance. Not to mention entertaining her parents’ meddling in her love life. Enter Nadim–an Indian Captain America with a British accent. Nice … until Reena finds out her father’s arranged for them to be married.

What I loved:
I got a view of East African-Indian culture with this novel, and it made me appreciate how connected we all are, and we don’t even realize it. The cultural descriptions and experiences were unique to these set of characters, so I didn’t get that “this is how East Africans are” or “this is how Muslims are (or aren’t in this case)” kind of feeling, but I was learning about a culture that I barely knew.

The cooking show contest scenes were AH-MAZ-ING! I am not really a fan of reality TV competitions, but I would totally watch this play out. All the purely fun and romantic stuff seems to come out in these scenes for me.



I also managed to get the audiobook, and I listened to part of it. The uplifting music, the narrators, it was an experience that made the words even more fun and cute! it was all wrapped up in this feel-good bow. Next is for this to be a Netflix movie.

What I sort of Liked:
The meddling parents that want to get her married already were hilarious! Especially near the end when family secrets are revealed. What I did not appreciate was the father’s motivation for getting her together with Nadim. That made me so angry! (But I’m pretty sure I was supposed to be). I wish Reena would have been more angry, though.



The heat level. I didn’t really research the heat level or even know what it was before reading. Sometimes I do because I specifically want a steamy romance. This one is sweet-steamy I guess is the best description. There’s heavy making out on page and language, but the sex is closed door. I usually find that as a let down. Here, it works, because everything else is so sweet and fun and cute. Also, Heron has just enough of the steamy making out that you don’t miss the unseen sex.

Overall:
This one was a deliciously wonderful read. Okay, beyond hungry right now. Gotta end this and eat something.

Did you like Accidentally Engaged? Agree with this review? Let me know in the comments.

Friday Fun Reviews: “The Accidental Senator” by Laura Heffernan

For those who’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll probably notice the tone of this one is different than my usual review. It’s funny! That’s probably due to being on some of the same social media networks as Laura Heffernan, author of The Accidental Senator. She’s a snarky, funny woman, and when I read this novel, I definitely heard her voice and channeled it for my review. It happens. And it makes for one enjoyable review. 🙂

The Accidental Senator (Push and Pole, #2)The Accidental Senator by Laura Heffernan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Premise What happens when a lawyer-turned write-in candidate actually becomes a state senator? Lana Chen was supporting her best friend’s campaign for Senate. Now she’s found herself occupying the seat. Don’t worry, there’s no hard feelings between the friends. But there are some hard feelings between Lana’s new mentor (Jason) and a certain lobbyist who’s caught Lana’s eye (Steve). And with a jumble of congressional bills on her desk and a crucial vote coming up, can Lana swim these political waters safely?

The story/The characters
I know, I know I know. You probably don’t want to read about people in government taking stances and debating on issues right now. Especially after the violence in the Capitol only a week or so ago (Jan 6, 2021). But this chicklit read is worth it.
No surprise that the main character is a Democrat–if you follow Laura Heffernan on Twitter, well let’s just say she’s not pro-GOP right now. It’s the thing you most want to know in a story with characters in the government, but it never really is the point is it? It’s so beside the point. You’ll quickly realize it’s more about whether your public servants are good stewards or bad ones, no matter what their political leaning.

And Lana does her best to be the Senator her constituents hoped for and need. And what a way she does it! To be someone who takes pole fitness, Lana is adorably clumsy and funny in other situations. Right away, I loved Lana. She would fit right in with those characters from Clueless if they had done a Clueless 10 years later edition. So, not like those boring people on CSPAN. Oops, those are real Congresspersons.



Lana and Jason are so unbelievably cute together (even though readers know it before Lana does).
And while I’m always about the romance, the stronger story is how Lana took a job she wasn’t prepared for, and tackled it, and won. And found out a little something about herself in the process. (icing!)



The Writing
So now I guess I should be writerly. Fine. The pacing of this one is amazing. I don’t usually talk about that, but I really appreciate when a book is a page-turner because you’re so engrossed in the story, not because you want to skim to get to the good part. In fact, if you skim, you’re going to miss something here. This story moves, baby! The language is approachable, despite being a book full of lawmakers and lawyers who tend to bloviate, (hey, I didn’t even have to look that word up!) and the antics are funny. And even though I’m not one for physical humor even the scene on the Senate floor was funny. (You’ll know the one)



Overall
If I still haven’t convinced you to pick up this book (you really should), read some of Laura Heffernan‘s other books. And then put this one (and part 1) in your TBR list for calmer political times.


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Friday Fun Reviews: “How to Fail at Flirting” by Denise Williams

This review is one I wrote for BookTrib.com and is featured on its front page carousel. (I’m not going to lie, I’m darn proud of that!) And for ONCE, my Friday Fun review is for a book that is NEWLY RELEASED! How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams is a great holiday present for all your girl friends (and for you!) who need a funny cute romantic comedy with some “real life complications.”

How to Fail at FlirtingHow to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dad jokes, bad jokes, single nerd sad jokes.

Whatever you call them if you love them, then you’ll love Jake and Naya’s “witty” banter in this book! But that’s not all you’ll love. Check out my full review on BookTrib.com!



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Fan Love for Jennifer Weiner and “Big Summer”

Episode 2 of Nerdy Romantics Podcast is all about Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner. I have loved Jennifer’s books since Good in Bed which is now over 20 years ago. In this episode I talk about:

  • Backstory of how I became a Jennifer Weiner fan (Hint: it’s all about body positivity and being plus-sized and about my motivation as a writer.)
  • Connection between Good in Bed and Big Summer: plus-sized main characters
  • Review of Big Summer–Spoiler alert!
    • Pacing in the beginning–and what that has to do with Daphne being plus-sized
    • Friendships
    • Being a Sidekick

Subscribe and listen on your preferred podcast player, or listen below.

Friday Fun Review: “Stay With Me Forever” by Farrah Rochon

Stay with Me Forever (Bayou Dreams #6)Stay with Me Forever by Farrah Rochon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stay with Me Forever is the 6th stand-alone in the Bayou Dreams series. The series is connected by where the characters live: in Louisiana. This novel’s setting is fictional small town Gauthier, near New Orleans.

The Premise
Paxton Jones was the nerdy poor girl in high school. Sawyer Robertson was the star hunky football player with wealth and smarts, and way out of Paxton’s league. Until one passion-filled night as 20-somethings before they went their separate ways.
Now reunited for a city improvement project in their small Louisiana hometown, Paxton and Sawyer can’t help feel that attraction for each other. But they also can’t help butting heads on this project. This enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance is sure to keep you turning pages.

The story/The characters
Paxton is stubborn. And hard. And disbelieving. I didn’t want to like her, but there is so much of her in a lot of people I know. A lot of Black women I know. Including myself. The traits that make us the superwomen and the saviors we are ultimately also make us hard to love, hard to relate to (because how can you relate to divinity?) and hard to convince. I love when Pax and Sawyer get together, maybe even more than I would if I had liked her more separately. She’s not a “root-for” kind of character, but you do want her to have an HEA.

Sawyer is that all-around good guy that can do no wrong. He had it all as a kid, but his parents instilled that hard work ethic in him, so he’s not an entitled alpha. Instead he’s a total beta hero—has his crap together, secure in himself, but totally in love with him some Paxton. Love this guy. Actually, as I write this, he’s the MC to “root for.” I really wanted to see him break down Pax’s walls and show her she can love, and she deserves him—the good guy he is.


The combination of the enemies-to-lovers and the second-chance tropes here is a good one. It gives us a unique take on a story line that otherwise could have read very “we’ve been here before.” The heat level is steamy, open-door, but it’s HQ, so we’re not going into NSFW territory. We just love seeing these people. I especially liked the secondary plot of the construction project, which is creating a flood prevention system in the town. There are city council meetings, and surveys, and descriptions of levees and how water flows in flood plains. If you’re a homeowner or a business owner with a storefront, this is stuff you need to know. Heck, every citizen should know this stuff. If you pay taxes, you vote, you should know your part in how government works on a local level. This is a prime example of why romances should not be looked down on. You can learn a lot from reading these books, even when you just went in for a hunky hero.


Overall
This is an entertaining romance with a twist on tropes that make it even more enjoyable. If you’re a harlequin fan and you haven’t read this one, check it out. Also, where have you been? This book has been out there for some years.


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Friday Fun Review: "A Lesson in Thorns" by Sierra Simone

A Lesson in Thorns (Thornchapel, #1)A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What can I say about this book? I think this about sums it up.



I’m usually full of emotive adjectives and helpful info, but right now? Nope. My mouth is just hanging open like a kid who just found out they were going to Disneyworld. What the F did I just read? And why do I want to snatch up the next one like right now?

The story/the characters/the sex:
So I went into this wondering how these six people were going to come together. If all six were going to come together. If I was going to be ready for how they all came together. Little did I know there’s a STORY lurking behind the sexy angst that is pulling you in, luring you, causing you to obsess over what this Thornchapel thing is all about.

And these characters’ personalities do the same. These people have history, they have backstory, and they are tortured. Wow, to be so young and so frustratingly messed up. These kids got issues, y’all! And I was sopping up every minute of it.



In fact, the sex is probably the most normal thing in this book (if you call a six-person orgy normal), but trust me on this. It seems like when these people finally give in to their sexual wants and needs, they are who they want to be and with whom they want to be.

But until they do that, this is a slow burn, if that’s even a thing for Sierra Simone, full of angsty torture. You aren’t really sure how these six people will come together in the end, but one thing is for sure, it will be pretty explosive when it happens. And it pretty much was. Yowser



Overall:
As with most Sierra Simone books I’ve read, I am eager to read the next one. Lady, you really need to have your books everywhere, so when I keep recommending you to friends, I don’t have to feel that separation anxiety when I lend my copy! (I get it back, but still…) xo


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Friday Fun Review: “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren

The UnhoneymoonersThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Premise Olive, the unlucky-in-life twin, prepares for her sister Ami’s—luckiest girl in the world—wedding, in which the best man is the groom’s brother Ethan. And boy, does he hate Olive! Turns out Olive’s luck begins to change, when everyone gets food poisoning at the wedding except Olive and Ethan. But then Ami pushes Olive to take her non-refundable honeymoon…with Ethan. Yikes.


The story/The characters
I loved Olive and Ethan! This is the enemies-to-lovers fake-marriage tropes done right! There’s just enough weirdness, hate, attraction, and clumsiness, and it happens at the right times to keep the story moving. I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough story to get through all the days of the honeymoon, but I shouldn’t have worried. And the post-honeymoon ending didn’t feel rushed either—great pacing!
CLo is so great with dialogue, and they don’t disappoint here. This is what makes their characters so real and “pinch-able” (so lovely you want to pinch their cheeks).

Olive and Ami are Mexican-American and their family plays an ever-present role in the book. Thank you, Christina Lauren for not hitting us over the head with stereotype. Here, I think the cultural portrayal is well-done. I can almost smell the cooking and feel the familial love while reading it!


Overall
This is a great chick-lit/women’s fiction novel with all the romantic feels we love. It checks all the boxes of an entertaining feel-good novel.


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