romance

My Seven Favorite Books of 2017 (Out of 55 Read)

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Hi there people in the galaxy! Another year has gone by, and though my reading has been rather slow the second half of the year because of University, I’m still very proud of myself for the 55 books I’ve read this year. A couple of years ago that number would have seemed impossible to achieve. There have been so many great gems this year and I have decided to list my seven favorite books of the year. These really deserve all of the love in the world and if you haven’t read any of them yet, I hope you’ll add them to your 2018 TBR.

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ARC Review of 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

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27 Hours by Tristina Wright

Publication Date: October 3, 2017.

Publisher: Entangled: Teen.

Genres: Young Adult and Science Fiction.

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Purchase here: Amazon Book Depository 

Synopsis: Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish. But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret. They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

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Thank you, Macmillan and Entangled: Teen, for my ARC of 27 Hours. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Before I read this book I was so intrigued by the world Tristina Wright has created in 27 Hours and I have now truly fallen in love with it. 27 Hours is an action-packed character driven story which will have you rooting for the main characters while you at the same time get to know this new world far away in outer space. There’s romance, friendship, family and so much more which are all explored through the four POVs of Rumor Mora, Jude Welton, Nyx Llorca, and Braeden Tennant. Through these four different teenagers, we are taken on a journey where everything they’ve ever believed will be challenged and thus they must fight for their survival and for what’s right.

The stories from Earth said the night sky there had been the color of the void and pricked with millions of stars. Only one moon had stamped a hole in the darkness. The sky above the colonized moon of Sahara was a jumble of blue-green nebula, Sahara’s host planet (which had some long number designation Rumor could never remember), and five other moons.

The characters in 27 Hours are all marginalized. Rumor is bisexual and multiracial; Jude is gay; Nyx is Latinx, deaf and pansexual; Braeden is asexual; Dahlia is transgender, bisexual and a dark-skinned Latinx; and lastly, Trick is a man of color and gay. However, despite the fact that a lot of on the page representation has been praised, there has also been criticism. The opinion on the racial representation has been divided. I would urge you to read reviews that bring up the topic of racism and colonization in 27 Hours before deciding to read the book since the issues with the representation and the potential harm the book may inflict is well described there. The criticism should not be taken lightly.

What made me like this book was the characters. I fell in love with every single one of them and was really invested in their journeys. The main characters are a strong cast of characters that a lot of ways remind me of the found family trope. Family doesn’t necessarily mean blood, but instead who you choose to love, to trust and to surround yourself with. I love the romance that we see developed throughout this story both between Rumor and Jude, and Nyx and Dahlia. Especially the last one killed me because it was slow-burn friends to lovers, which is my weak spot. I would have to say that Nyx is my favorite in the entire book, she is a badass who can use a sniper rifle. I love how she loves Dahlia and puts flowers in her hair at random moments. Moreover, I also love how sign language was such a big part of the story because of the fact that Nyx is deaf and that Dahlia and Braeden always thought about making sure Nyx understood what they and everyone around her were saying.

Nyx’s fingertips prickled, and her mouth went dry. Gods, crushes sucked so much. Especially ones on your best friend. Who had skin the color of deepest space and eyes like twin stars. Who preferred looser shirts that slipped off one shoulder and teased Nyx mercilessly with collarbone. Who wore a pair of green pants Nyx absolutely loved on her because they clung to her legs, her thighs, those hips. Hips made for grabbing.

If you want a book about marginalized teenagers saving their world, their moon, while exploring their feelings regarding love, lust, friendship, and loyalty then 27 Hours is for you. We are thrown right into the middle of the story and throughout the story, there is nothing but high stakes as the countdown towards dayside is ongoing. This book will make you laugh, cry and squeal. I cannot wait to see what the sequel will bring us, I have a mighty need for it. However, before you read 27 Hours, do proceed with caution and read other reviews that bring up the problematic aspects of this book.

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24 Romance Novels By Authors of Color That Cost 2$ Or Less

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Hi everyone in the galaxy and welcome to another blog post of mine. This time it’s all about cheap books, romance novels by authors of color to be exact. If you know me you know that I love ebook sales and diverse romance novels. Anyway, I made this blog post because I have a lot of romance books on my kindle (a lot I’ve read, a lot I’m just dying to read soon). Because of this, I decided to put together a small list of romance novels that are 2 dollars or less on Amazon right now. However, remember that the price is from the American Kindle store and if you’re from somewhere else the sale might not apply to you and/or your country might add taxes which will make the price a bit pricier for you. I hope you guys understand.

Without further ado, here are the romance novels on sale. I’ll mark the free ones with a star (☆) so that you can make sure to grab those even if you don’t have any money at the moment. 

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ARC Review of East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo

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East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo

Publication Date: September 4, 2017.

Publisher: Pocket Star.

Genres: Contemporary and Romance.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: When an entrepreneur and an Army reservist end up in their own reality show fauxmance, they have to decide whether their love exists just for the cameras…or if it’s for real in this warmhearted romance, perfect for foodies and wine lovers!

Bryn Aquino, the former manager of a Filipino restaurant, knows the value of hard work. With a shiny new MBA in tow and an investor, she’s ready to start her own business: a culinary retreat where visitors can relax, cook, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Dubbed Paraiso Retreats, she leases the childhood home of army reservist Mitchell Dunford—who returned from Afghanistan to revive his family’s vineyard—but finds herself in a bind when her investor pulls out of the business.

When the retreat catches an internet live stream producer’s eye through social media channels, Bryn is offered the opportunity of a lifetime—to document her journey in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Excited, Bryn happily agrees to the arrangement…only to find out that she’s going to have to fake an onscreen romance with her indifferent landlord in order to keep her audience interested.

As Mitchell and Bryn put on a show for the cameras, they find their romance isn’t hard to fake. They’ve got more in common under their bluster, banter, and doubts. As their relationship heats up and the cameras keep rolling, the line between show and reality blurs. And when the pressures of family, business, and the audience stack against them, will their romance survive internet stardom? Or was it just for show?

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Thank you, Tif Marcelo and Pocket Star, for my ARC of East in Paradise. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

East in Paradise is the standalone sequel to North to You. The book follows Bryn Aquino, a Filipino business woman, and Mitchell Dunford, army hero, and an expert in all things agriculture and vineyards. East in Paradise takes you on a journey where you are swept away by reality TV, fake dating, delicious food and wine, raw emotions and lots of laughs. If foodie romances, as well as strong and vulnerable heroes and heroines, are your thing, then your next book purchase should be none other than East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo.

This attraction is a conflict of interest, and all wrong. But the electricity between us–it’s palpable. It has both a negative and a positive charge that draws me to him and pushes me away, though equally powerful. And I know he feels it, too.

I love how sweet the romance between Bryn and Mitchell is, their banter is A+ and they really have to work to get their happily ever after. They both have walls that need to be torn down and I loved to see that happen little by little. The end result was that much sweeter because of the hard work and ups and downs Bryn and Mitchell had to get through to get their happy ending. This book has both fake dating and reality TV and I love these tropes so much. Moreover, I love how the story is about more than just the romance between Bryn and Mitchell. Both of them are also trying to start businesses and that’s a whole process, and I like how we get to see that. There is a lot riding on the success of their businesses and we get to see them on every step of the way: the good and the bad, the rewards and the setbacks.

Damn, the woman won’t stop. Her attitude won’t quit; she refuses to submit.
And it fucking turns me on.

Bryn is a remarkable heroine, I love her so much. She is energetic, and always wants to fight and have the last word in discussions and arguments. I’m so glad she was portrayed the way she was because I think it’s rare to see headstrong and opinionated women get celebrated. I relate to her so much, so definitely give me more gutsy, vulnerable and stubborn women in romance. I love it when we see women going after what they want and not being afraid to do it. Furthermore, what I love about Mitchell is the fact that he’s kind, is in love with all things nature, and totally has a green thumb. There is also the fact that he’s a soldier, a captain. Mitchell has PTSD and I loved the way that was shown and handled. We see how he deals with both his anxiety and insomnia and how he gets treatment for his PTSD as his symptoms begin to worsen. I love how this book called out a lot of the stigma that exists surrounding soldiers with PTSD and I’m glad something so significant was brought up in a skillful way that in no way diminishes its importance. Mitchell and Bryn are both fully fleshed out characters that I think many will enjoy reading about and getting to know them.

Another aspect of East in Paradise I loved was the family vibes. We get to see both Bryn’s and Mitchell’s family, and despite none of them being perfect, I love how authentic it feels to see them come with their two cents about the entire ordeal of the plot. It’s also very clear how much Bryn and Mitchell care about their families and thus also care about what the other’s family thinks of them. Another plus was the main characters Camille and Drew from North to You made multiple cameo appearances (which was not surprising considering we were introduced to Bryn in North to You since she’s Drew’s cousin). As for future installments, the information about who the third book is about is still unknown. However, I’d really like to see the next book be about Victoria (Bryn’s sister) or Cody (Mitchell’s brother) since I fell in love with them both from what we saw in East in Paradise.

All in all, I love how Tif Marcelo has brought us two amazing foodie romances that will make you swoon. East in Paradise has the best romance and an amazing cast of characters to get invested in. I love how this book is both light and funny yet still manages to tackle important topics that I can imagine are often just brushed over. If you’re a lover of romance, food, wine and that classic “and they lived happily ever after” then you need East in Paradise on your TBR. Nothing beats a really good romance read and this book is definitely it.

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Saturday Night Author Fever #13 with Ines Bautista-Yao

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Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!

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This Saturday Night we welcome Ines Bautista. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.

Ines, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?

First of all, I love 70s music. When we were teenagers, my friends and I used to follow this 70s band called The Groove. We would attend their gigs and dance the night away. The drummer even had an afro. My favorite song was “Dancing Queen” by Abba. I was around 17 when this happened, I felt like the song was written for me. Ha ha!

But today, I am no longer 17 and I don’t have time to go dancing anymore. The only dancing I do is to Hi-5 whenever my daughters want to watch and dance together. I’m a mom to two little girls, one is 9 and the other is 3. They are my life and I have devoted my days to raising them. I write on the side, whenever I find the time.

I used to teach high school and freshman college English and literature and I used to be the editor in chief of a children’s magazine, then later, a teen magazine. I was also the editor of the chick lit books published by the same magazine company. I also used to and still write lots of feature articles. Today, I do all my writing and editing from home, in school, in Starbucks waiting for my kids while they’re in school, or on my bedroom floor while the kids are asleep.

I wrote my first book, One Crazy Summer, when my eldest daughter was three years old and took three-hour naps. I had actually started it when I was pregnant but shelved it because I thought it sucked (after thinking it was awesome haha). Then three years later, I stumbled across it again and wanted to know what was going to happen next. So I tried typing a few words and didn’t stop till I had a novella that I pitched to my publisher. They accepted it and published it and I came out with my second book, What’s in your Heart, two years later. I now also indie publish. It’s the best way to come out with books quickly. It takes a while for publishers to come out with books, and when you do it yourself, you’re in control.

The books I write are mostly sweet young or new adult romances. I love that age because everything is fresh and new but covered in so much angst and pain and confusion. I love having my main character figure her life out and grow up alongside an adorable boy who is usually hopelessly in love with her.

Continue Reading ➞

ARC Review of The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

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The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

Publication Date: August 22, 2017.

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press.

Genres: Fantasy and Young Adult.

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Purchase here: Amazon Book Depository | Harmony Ink Press

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

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Thank you, Julia Ember and Harmony Ink Press, for my ARC of The Tiger’s Watch. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

As Julia Ember’s third published book, The Tiger’s Watch manages to still contain all the things I love about Ember’s work and continue to surprise me with new stories and concepts. The Tiger’s Watch is about Tashi, who is nonbinary, genderfluid, and uses they/them pronouns. Throughout the book, Tashi’s pronouns are respected and the few times someone uses the wrong pronouns for them, it’s immediately called out and corrected. The world we see in The Tiger’s Watch is filled with magic and culture, and Tashi among other selected are inhabitors: “As inhabitors, we all bonded with one animal at the age of eight, and our life force linked to theirs.” At first, the connection between Tashi and their golden tiger Katala reminded me of Sense8 with how they can enter each other’s minds and take over each other’s bodies. In their country, Tashi learned to become an inhabitor at an academy specifically meant for children, poor or orphaned, to be trained to become inhabitors and spies, with the ability to wield their unique magic.

“It was something we all were conditioned to understand, even if most of us never fully accepted it. Once you became an inhabitor and said the words of the binding spell, your soul literally fused with another creature’s. I could access Katala’s memories, feel her emotions, and see what she saw. When she or I died, the one who lived would slip away as Kalx was doing. For me, bonded as I was to a mountain tiger with a projected lifespan of more than thirty years, things didn’t seem so bleak. I could live to be forty or maybe older.”

I think what really makes you connect with The Tiger’s Watch and draws you is the characters, even if your feelings towards them are torn. Tashi really evolved in this book. They still doubt themselves at times, but they also come to the realization that they can be brave despite not always having been so in the past and Katala, their golden tiger and other half, balanced them out in the perfect way. However, it should be mentioned that all characters in this book, including Tashi, can be seen as morally ambiguous. There is no one that is 100 % good or evil, there is both in all of them and that makes the entire story that much more complex and intriguing. It’s a lot harder to know who to root for when you’re on the fence about everyone and their true intentions. I cannot wait to see where the sequel takes us because there is unfinished business, and questions I’m eager to get answers to.

The romance in the book is complex and for me, it was very unexpected. At first, I thought it was going in one direction and then it went into another. I’m still uncertain how I feel about any of the possible pairings that have been explored in this book. Despite this, I do lean more towards one of the pairings and hope it will be further developed in the future (or that maybe a new pairing pops up).

One thing I’d like to point out is that I do not share the marginalizations the main character, Tashi, and a few other the other main characters have. Therefore I cannot speak on the representation in the book. If I find any ownvoices reviews that discuss the representation I will make sure to update my review and include these reviews here.

The Tiger’s Watch is perfect for readers who love unique and diverse fantasy books, especially if you love ones you’ll get through quickly. There are characters you won’t be sure whether you hate or love, and there will probably even be some tears (there was for me). However, The Tiger’s Watch is a great read and I really recommend it.

P.S. A personal side note. I’m so happy, surprised, and grateful that a dream came through with this book; I was mentioned in the acknowledgments of the book. If you’ve read my blog post, Bookish Bucket List Goals, you already knew this was something I’ve always wanted to happen since I honestly think it’s the coolest thing ever. Anywho, I’m so glad to be a reader and supporter of Julia Ember’s books.

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Saturday Night Author Fever #12 with Tif Marcelo

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Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!

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This Saturday Night we welcome Tif Marcelo. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.

Tif, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?

Thank you for having me, Olivia! I’m the forthcoming debut romance author of the Journey to the Heart series (Pocket Star), with three books to be published this year. I’m a military spouse, a mom of four, a U.S. Army veteran and registered nurse. Which basically sums up why I’m shackled to my coffee pot and Passion Planner.

And, without giving my age (though I’m so blessed to have reached this point in my life), I am a lover of 70’s music, due to my mother’s extensive vinyl collection, which I continued to play through to my teen years in the 90’s.

Continue Reading ➞

Twelve Diverse Books Flying Under the Radar

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Hi everyone, welcome to my new blog post with a few diverse books I love but feel are underrated and are flying under the radar among book circles. In this blog post, I have 12 diverse books that I’ve read and loved, that also have less than 50 reviews on Amazon. Moreover, some of the books also have less than 100 ratings on Goodreads. I have marked these books with a star (✯). These 12 books are in need of some love, and I hope you’ll find a new gem to read and review among these.

The first four books that I definitely feel need more loving are,

  • Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw (). Goodreads & Amazon link. This book is about a fat bisexual woman of color who also happens to be a werebear and a fashionista. The ship is really cute, and I love how they play scrabble together.
  • Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell (). Goodreads & Amazon link. Fragile Chaos is about the god of war and his sacrificial bride. This ship is on fire, there is serious chemistry, and I love the entire world with the gods and goddesses.
  • The Little Queen by Meia Geddes (). Goodreads & Amazon link. This is a novella written in the style of a fairytale about a young queen who goes on adventures to learn about herself and on her journey falls in love with another young girl.
  • The Paths We Choose by Maria Hollis. Goodreads & Amazon link. This book is a new adult story about two girls in a no strings attached relationship who fall in love and find out that there is something more between them.

Continue Reading ➞

ARC Review of Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

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illegalcontact1Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Publication Date: August 15, 2017.

Publisher: InterMix.

Genres: Romance, Sports, LGBT, and Contemporary.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

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Thank you, InterMix, for my e-ARC of Illegal Contact. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell has become one of my favorite romance reads of the year and has shown me how romance is done right. This dislike to love story between Gavin and Noah will surprise you and draw you in like you never saw coming. If you want a sports romance between two men that manages to be both cute, sexy and has that little extra look no further. Illegal Contact is it for you. As my first Santino Hassell book, Illegal Contact has cemented me as a fan and I need to read the rest of Hassell’s work as soon as I can.

“If you think my image is shitty now, just wait until a housekeeper or a PA finds out I like fucking guys. Gavin Brawley, the Barons’ alpha asshole, being bisexual will be a lot more sensational than golden boy Simeon experimenting at the club while wasted.”

My favorite part about Illegal Contact is definitely the characters. We have Gavin Brawley who is an American football player who is under house arrest because of an aggressive encounter. However, despite the first impression the world has of Gavin we soon learn there is so much more to him. First of all, he’s bisexual, something he has kept a secret because of how homophobic the football world is. Moreover, what the world doesn’t see is that Gavin is loyal and would do anything to protect his friends and teammates, his chosen family. Not to mention, despite being a very angry and blunt person Gavin has a soft side that you get to see more and more of as the story progresses. My friends and I have unofficially dubbed Gavin as a bisexual king. He’s just, you know, so majestic. There is also Noah Monroe, the other main character, a gay man, who only wants to do good in this world and help LGBT youth. He’s also not afraid to call it like it is and is a total badass at times. However, after an awful incident, he’s without a job, in need of money, and decides to apply for the job as Gavin’s personal assistant. Noah who knows nothing about football is nerdy and loves to read books. In a lot of ways, Gavin and Noah are such different people but as they grow closer and closer they find that there is a lot of common ground between them.

“The warmth in my chest and butterflies in my gut made it plain as day that my miserable ass really fucking liked him. In the hand-holding kind of way, not just the ass-pounding way.”

This leads me to the romance between Gavin and Noah, and let me tell you, it’s simply amazing. I mean they have such amazing banter, which is heightened because of the whole ordeal of them disliking each other in the beginning. Everything just progresses from that. You can slowly see them falling in love with each other and the readers know this is real love even before the characters themselves do. It’s so precious, they’re so precious, this is everything I could ever want from a good romance. I love how these men become all soft for each other, they just want to be there for each other and love one another. It’s so beautiful. At first sight, they look like they could never be a match but towards the end you know there is no better pair than Gavin and Noah.

Moreover, there is also a lot about sports in this book (since you know it’s a sports romance) and I love how Illegal Contact really called out how homophobic and toxic the football community is but also showed us how being a team is about teamwork, commitment, and family. The book also discusses how white sports media is and how in sports calendars the majority of players shown are white and how that does not represent what teams actually look like. Illegal Contact shows you both the good and the bad about the sports world and does so in a way I think many will appreciate.

All in all, if you want a quality romance novel about two men falling in love then look no further. Illegal Contact is funny, sweet and hot and is a perfect blend of everything you could wish for in a sports romance. This m/m story will knock you off your feet and have you singing your praises before you hit the halfway mark. You deserve this content in your life, make sure you put Illegal Contact on your radar.

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SURPRISE: I’m doing #ARCAugust ✯ Featuring My Entire August TBR

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Hi, galaxy travelers and readers! As the title of this post suggests, I made a last minute decision to, for the second year in a row, join ARC August hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. Last year I thought it went so-so for me since I didn’t read the books I wanted to go through during the month. However, I’m excited to give it another shot this year. Especially since I’m actually reading a lot more this summer. I’m very excited to share my August TBR with you all.

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The ARCs I want to get through during August are the following,

I have a few ARC requests pending so I might also add a few more books to my TBR before the month is over. I’m really hoping I’ll be accepted for them, but we’ll see how it goes.

Continue Reading ➞