Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Making Up by Helena Hunting Blog Tour


Welcome to the MAKING UP Blog Tour!



Synopsis

A new standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting.

Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

Bio



New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She's writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.




Excerpt


We’re a couple of minutes away from my apartment, which also means we’re almost at the end of our date. End-of-date protocol often means a goodnight kiss.

And I’ve eaten onions. Lots of them. What the hell was I thinking? I feel around in my shorts pocket, hoping I have a random stick of gum. I find a tiny square packet and pull it out, along with an old tissue. I shove that back in my pocket and sigh with relief as I carefully open the Listerine Pocketpak. There’s one strip left. I pop it in my mouth, wishing I had water since my mouth is dry and I’m suddenly super nervous.

Griffin pulls up in front of my apartment building. I swallow a bunch of times, trying to get the strip to dissolve on my tongue and glance out the tinted window, seeing it from his perspective. I don’t live in a bad part of town, but I sure as hell wouldn’t leave this car sitting out here for any length of time unless I wanted it keyed or stripped down.

Griffin shifts into park and turns to me, one hand resting on the back of my seat near the headrest. 
“I had a great time, Cosy.”

“Me too, thanks for dinner.” I tried to fork over my share, but he was quick on the credit card draw.

“It was my pleasure.” He leans in the tiniest bit, a nonverbal cue that he’s going in for a kiss.

I mirror the movement, giving him the go ahead. My stomach flutters in anticipation. I exhale slowly through my nose. Even though the Listerine strip should be doing its job to mask the onions, I don’t want to ruin the moment by breathing that in his face.

His fingertips skim my jaw, and I close my eyes. And then his lips brush my cheek. I wait for them to move a couple of inches to the right, but after what feels like a lot of seconds—and is probably only a few—I crack a lid.

Griffin is still close, a wry smile on his lips and a smolder in his eyes.

“Seriously, that’s it? A kiss on the cheek?”

His smile widens, making his eyes crinkle at the corners. He’s nothing like the guys I usually end up on dates with. College boys don’t take things slow. If I were out with one of the guys from school, I’d be sitting in a beat-up Civic with some stupid music playing, and he’d be all over me with his tongue halfway down my throat, copping a feel.

“I thought all the onions you ate were the equivalent to garlic for vampires.” Griffin fingers my hair near my shoulder. I’d really like him to finger something else. Wait. I mean I’d like to feel his hands on me. Not in my pants. Okay, maybe I’d like them in my pants, but not after date number one.

“I wasn’t thinking, and I really like onions. A lot. In hindsight, it’s not a great date food. I feel kinda dumb. And I guess at first I wasn’t so sure about you. How was I supposed to know you’d actually be kind of normalish?”

“Normalish?”

“Well, you drink club soda on purpose, so you can’t be all there.” I tap his temple.

Griffin circles my wrist with his fingers and drops his head, lips brushing over my knuckle. “We can’t all be perfect, now, can we?”

“I suppose not, and perfect is boring.”

“That it is.” He hums against my skin, and I feel it through my entire body. “I would like to try that kiss again, if you’re still interested.”

Monday, July 8, 2019

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

* * * 1/2



At the news of her mother's death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn't spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco's Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She's even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother's restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant's fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother's cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around--she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.


Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review


A story set in Chinatown featuring a passionate cook who creates and recreates delicious family recipes? Sign me up!

I thought this was an sweet story overall and enjoyed when Natalie described what cooking did to her senses. Honestly, I wish I could feel that passionately about cooking and inventing dishes for people, and it's clear how this is an intrinsic part of her soul. Through cooking she could connect with her grandmother, a renowned chef in Chinatown, who died before she was born. When she returns home after her mother's death, she learns that there's more to her mother's story that she was unaware of. Looking to make things right with Natalie, her mother's last wish was for her to inherit her grandmother's restaurant and bring it back to life. Her grandmother was a pillar of the community and her restaurant was the star. Being asked to reopen it feels like too much is being asked of her. Her first instinct is to run away which has been her tactic awhile now.But then she's persuaded to stay and as she assimilates to life in the neighbourhood she left, she learns about how much has changed, and not for the better as people are looking to gentrify her once vibrant community. With renewed purpose she hasn't had in a long time, Natalie dreams of helping to unify the community and re-energize the local businesses. 

Family and cultural heritage are central to this story as was the food that made my mouth water. Natalie's love for cooking and the joy she gets from it come through the pages. Throw in the fact that her grandmother's recipes seem to have some sort of magical properties, and the dishes take on a life of their own. (Think the movie, Chocolat where Vienne's creations have such a profound impact on the villagers. It's the same idea here where Natalie's dishes seem to stir emotions and instigate action by the folks who eat them.) Interestingly, while Natalie's love of food and her grandmother's treasured recipes came through, I thought her budding romance with Daniel fell flat. As her potential love interest I didn't pick up on any chemistry between them. One drawback for me was that at times it felt as if the author was grasping too hard with the metaphors. She describes Natalie's process in relation to food so beautifully, creating such impressive pictures that I think sections outside of those could have flowed better with simpler descriptions. 

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is a sweet coming-of-age story about laying down roots and rebuilding community. If you're a foodie, you'll enjoy the addition of the recipes and like me, wish you could reach through and taste some of the deliciousness inside. I look forward to reading more from Roselle Lim in the future!

~ Bel


Monday, July 1, 2019

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase

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A tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends—and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness in the tradition of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet.

Leah Tessaro has been waiting for this moment for a long time: Her boyfriend, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s home on Seneca Lake for a week of lazy summer bliss, boating, and barbeque. The couple has been together for four years, and Leah is convinced that Ollie is finally going to pop the question. And Leah can’t wait to share the joyous news with her best friend, June Kang, who is joining them on their getaway, and whose presence will make everything feel more real. 

Seven years later, the moment June has been dreading has finally arrived: Her fiancé, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s lake house. But this is not an ordinary visit to an ordinary place; it is a house haunted by June’s long-buried memories of her lost friend, Leah—and the connection that appears to remain between Leah and the man for whom June’s love is as deep as her sense of foreboding.

Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is a gripping novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: What exactly happened to Leah on that hot summer night?


Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review


I've been a fan of Bethany Chase's since her first book, The One That Got Away so I eagerly scoop up anything she releases. Chase continues to explore themes of complicated relationships and friendships, his time adding a mystery.

Chase has split the story into two timelines. The first with Leah that happened seven years ago and the second with her best friend, June which happens seven years later. In the past, Leah and Ollie have been dating for years and they're the couple that most people envy. Sickeningly cute, he's so perfect, she' so vibrant ... yada yada yada. Things seem so perfect that Leah is convinced he will propose during their upcoming trip to his family's place on Seneca Lake. She also invites June to accompany them for the week since she's broken up with her latest boyfriend and best friends don't leave their BFFs alone. Seven years later, June is now engaged to Ollie and dreads the return to Seneca Lake for another family get together. At this point not much is known as to why and how it's June and Ollie and not Leah and Ollie but we know that Leah hasn't been in the picture since the last visit. What happened is slowly revealed as the week at the lake in both the past and present slowly wears on. In both timelines everything starts out fine. It's a typical holiday with lots of fun and and lakeside shenanigans. Then the pressure sets in and little by little this perfect picture of happiness and contentment starts to become fractured. 

Firstly, I purposefully didn't read the blurb too closely so I was not expecting the time jump and couple switch. I literally gasped when I realized June was now with Ollie. I did have a hard time at first reconciling that they were a couple in the future. It felt disloyal and disingenuous to Leah. But I think that's what I was supposed to feel without knowing all the specifics and come on, I wanted the gossip. Secondly, this mystery is my kind of catnip. I loved the suspense and how details gradually emerged via Leah and June's recollections and observations. The timeline flip flop was genius! It gave me the sense that I was there in the thick of things. There's something alluring about being a reader who knows that something foreboding is close at hand when reading it in real time (Leah's POV). June's timeline is all about reconciling the past with the present, and her guilt over moving on with her life which includes Ollie. There's so much baggage in that relationship that's been ignored; this trip will undoubtedly force them to finally unpack all of that. The contrast between the two trips to the lake couldn't be more apparent - the first starts out joyous and second one is just pure dread. (By the way, Leah's timeline does have a few possible triggers which I will list below. They could be spoilery so consider yourself warned.)

I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting but I was definitely surprised by how everything played out. Chase crafted a story that steadily escalated in tension, especially during June's POV as she began to fit in the missing pieces of their last time at the lake with Leah. I had not anticipated the ending as I let my imagination run wild with all sorts of possibilities but it was still shocking. One Night at the Lake is something different from Chase and I say if you're in for some mystery, good storytelling and a close examination of friendships, you'll be pleased with this one.

~ Bel


Trigger Warning


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suspicion of cheating, unwanted touching, unwanted sexual advances


Friday, June 28, 2019

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

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Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider

·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with...

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.


Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review


In her update of the Jane Austen classic, Dev not only flips gender roles - Trisha as Darcy and DJ as Elizabeth - she also spices things up with a diverse cast whose cultural backgrounds add interesting new layers to this story of privilege and stereotypes. Trisha may come from a family with a rich royal heritage and with all the conveniences to make her upbringing ideal, but that doesn't mean her life doesn't come with its own set of complications. She's a successful neurosurgeon who since a young age has always been able to identify a problem and set her mind to solve it. She prides herself on her work but the rest of her life is a different story. Her dating life is weird and her relationship with her parents is strained, to say the least. Still, as an ever dutiful daughter brought up to value family, she is devoted to them. DJ's history is complex for different reasons. After his father died, his father's racists family disowned him, his sister and his mother. His single mother then worked herself to the bone to support them before she passed away while DJ and Emma were still young. They were on their own then relying on the kindness of a family friend who provided shelter and a safe haven for them. When Emma gets sick and the only person who can help her is Trisha, DJ drops everything and relocates his catering business from England to the States so he can be there for her. 

Trisha and DJ meet when he's catering her parents' event and it's not a meet-cute as they instantly rub each other the wrong way. It seems that with every encounter after that they manage to find new ways to unintentionally offend the other. DJ, a by-product of his tough upbringing and experiences, is a hardened character who doesn't have time for distractions or people who'd discount him so easily. He's sensitive about how he's perceived and this makes his personality a bit prickly. The trouble for him is that Trisha discounts him constantly while simultaneously making him mad for her. And she also happens to be Emma's doctor, the only person capable of saving his sister. Trisha herself is a bit oblivious as to how her demeanor and tone can put people off.

Along with economic disparity Dev includes current hot button issues such as colourism, racial profiling, and how successful career-driven women are perceived and treated in the workplace. There's also the ups and downs of family relationships. I took to Trisha right away. I liked her straight-forwardness and her dry humour but what makes her stand out is her unflappable confidence in her gift as a neurosurgeon. There's just something impressive about a woman who fights sexism in the workplace by simply being adept at her work and not rising to the bait when others try to ruffle her. The fact that she doesn't have it all together in every aspect of her life made her real to me. Same with DJ who's talented in the kitchen but is cool around people he's unfamiliar with. The bad guy, who has ties to Trisha, comes in the form of Julia Wickham as a sly, devious scoundrel who betrays people's trust during their most vulnerable moments. She's the worst and slimy to the core.

I knew I had to read this novel as soon as I'd heard about it. Sonali Dev impeccable at drawing you in to the story rather than leaving you there as a bystander. And let's talk about the food! DJ's French-Indian creations are mouthwatering temptations. If only I could reach in and taste some of them. As a retelling of the classic, it's fun to see it in a contemporary setting with what feels like a brand new cast of characters. I would LOVE to see this turned into a movie by none other than Gurinder Chadha (director of one of my favourite movies, Bend it Like Beckam). Can you just imagine how awesome that would be? Anyway, make sure you read Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors while I pray that my wish comes true.

~ Bel


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lies by Kylie Scott Cover Reveal



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Lies, a fast paced and sexy standalone filled with the perfect blend of heat and humor from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, is coming July 21st and we have the sexy cover!

Betty Dawsey knows that breaking things off with Thom Lange is for the best. He’s nice, but boring, and their relationship has lost its spark. But steady and predictable Thom, suddenly doesn’t seem so steady and predictable when their condo explodes and she’s kidnapped by a couple of crazies claiming that Thom isn’t who he says he is.
Thom is having a hellish week. Not only is he hunting a double agent, but his fiancé dumped him, and thanks to his undercover life, she’s been kidnapped.
Turns out Thom is Operative Thom and he’s got more than a few secrets to share with Betty if he’s going to keep her alive. With both their lives on the line, their lackluster connection is suddenly replaced by an intense one. But in his line of work, feelings aren’t wanted or desired. Because feelings can be a lethal distraction.

Lies - PO.jpg

Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/LiesKS
Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/31cAz3h

Cover Designed by Hang Le
Photographer: Brian Kaminski
Model: Terry Dormer

About Kylie Scott



Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.


Connect with Kylie Scott
Book+Main Bites: http://bit.ly/2ETz5RQ

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

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From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
 


Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

When I started reading Mrs. Everything I had no proper idea what the premise was other than it was about sisters and I'm always interested in how family dynamics play out.

Jo has always felt different and apart from her mother and sister. Even as a child she felt uncomfortable in her own skin. She wasn't the traditional beauty and certainly didn't behave like a young lady was expected to. Her sister, Bethie fulfilled that role nicely being the more conventionally pretty girl who listened to their mother. The differences between the sisters are stark and set them up for their eventual stories as adults. It may not have been an idyllic life but it was a decent life with both parents who did love their children. Their lives are changed irrevocably when their father passes away suddenly and the three women are left to continue on their own. Their mother sort of checks out mentally and this where Jo, after o many years of rebellion, steps up to help around the house. By this time certain other events take place that impact them significantly, altering the trajectory of their lives. 

You're seeing the sisters' entire lives unfold before your eyes and the toughest part about reading Mrs. Everything is that it's incredibly emotional with unsavory incidents that happen intermittently throughout. What's interesting is how initially it's kind of assumed that the girls are headed down a preordained path based on their personalities - Jo the stubborn and independent one, and Bethie the popular girl. However, by the time they're in their late teens, they flip-flop. Later on Jo, who had never had any interest in being married or being with a man for that matter, marries and raises a family. She plays house but once again isn't comfortable in her own skin knowing she has shut away all her true desires. Bethie, wants nothing to do with settling down and embraces her life of freedom and free love. Both sisters bear the consequences of their decisions and at times lack of action. Their separate journeys took them to places that they couldn't have imagined for themselves but then, every so often life throws them for a loop and certain things or people come along and turn things around. It's the changes and how they adapt, or don't, that make this story both heartbreaking and page-turning.

Mrs. Everything isn't a light read and traumatic things happen (content warning listed below). Though depressing at times it's also a story about resilience, reconciliation and faith. This is my first time reading Jennifer Weiner and boy, oh boy, is she a brilliant writer! She had me in tears by the time I was done, not only because of everything Jo and Beth had been through, but because they made it through all of the muck, eventually making it back to each other for a second chance at sisterhood and friendship. Mrs. Everything is a powerful and moving story that will spark fascinating conversations though I also recognize that it's not for everyone. If you're going to read it, pick a good spot and make sure you have a warm drink and tissues at the ready.

~ Bel




Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, including Good in BedThe Littlest Bigfoot, and her memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com.

Follow Jennifer online

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Content Warning


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- death of a parent, homophobia, eating disorder, sexual assault, rape, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, cheating, drug use, cancer

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

* * * 

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.
 


Source: advance e-galley provided by publishers in exchange for an honest review


Even when things go horribly wrong there has to be a silver lining somewhere. For Olive who has always seemed to be the unluckier sister compared to her twin, her silver lining is that she did not succumb to food poisoning at the reception like the rest of her sister's bridal party and guests did. Thanks to the chaos Ami can't go on her honeymoon and rather than see it go wasted, she insists that Olive go to Hawaii and have a good time. Buutttt ... she has to go with Ethan, the groom's best man and all around pain in Olive's backside. The two have never gotten along so it's ludicrous to think that they'd b able to do so even if they're going to paradise. She promises Ami that she'll go anyway and that's where the adventure begins.

The Unhoneymooners is a typical enemies-to-lovers story that's fueled by misconceptions and assumptions about the other person. Ethan's not a huge stretch from a lot of guys in these rom-coms who start off aloof and maybe a little too condescending while Olive's the perky, outgoing sort. Yeah, their personalities clash and they try to keep away from each other. As luck would have it things don't go their way. Olive encounters someone with whom she interviewed for a job, and Ethan sees his ex there with her new man. I mean, seriously, of all the resorts in Hawaii and they're all there? The same week? Through a series of misunderstandings, Olive inadvertently leads her potential employer to think that she's engaged. To Ethan. Ethan in turn wants to show his ex he's moved on so why not go with the incorrect assumption and convince everyone that they're together. It's actually quite comical because they're still at the can't-stand-to-look-at-you phase. The pretense though can get boring but thankfully not here as they begin to tolerate each other. What I wasn't expecting was for things to loop back to her sister which I thought supercharges the remainder of the story. It's kind of sweet, actually, since the sisters always had something in the way of their relationship and here they get the chance to support each other.

The Unhoneymooners doesn't reinvent the wheel but it is entertaining and I had a darn good time reading it. Good banter makes me happy and the snarky back-and-forth between Olive and Ethan were my jam. Any good rom-com should make you laugh and fall in love along with the characters and The Unhoneymooners does just that.

~ Bel