Screwed, by Kendall Ryan


Grade: C+

Doing it at: 74%

Catnip: Hot Neighbor, Friends to Lovers, Manwhore, Emotional Unavailability

Shame Scale: Lowwww.

Fantasy Cast:  Joshua Bowman, Vanessa Hudgens

Book Description:

I have one rule: Don’t shit where you eat. 

Several of the women in the condo complex I own would love some one-on-one playtime, and why wouldn’t they? I’m young, fit, attractive, and loaded. Not to mention I’m packing a sizable bulge below the belt. It’s a combination that drops panties on a regular basis. 

Yay, me, right? 

But my cock, troublemaker that he is, has been confined to my trousers by my business partner. A concession I agreed to, and one that’s never been hard to enforce until Emery moves in across the hall. She’s smart, young, determined, and sexy as hell. I want a taste. I won’t stop until I’m buried deep inside the succulent new-in-town brunette. 

After being warned about my past, she does her best to steer clear, but I’m about to show her that underneath it all, I’m a guy with a heart of gold and a cock of steel. 

My name is Hayden Oliver, and this is my story.

This was my second Kendall Ryan book, the first being Filthy Beautiful Lies – a sweet little “auctioning off her virginity” romance, and god, that trope will never ever get old for me. Screwed is billed as a romantic comedy, and it has a fantastic cover. Marketing women take note – that’s really all you need to sell us a book.

Things start off strong; Hayden and his buddy Hudson own several properties, and Hudson is laying down the law, telling Hayden he needs to stop banging their tenants. Girls are getting pissed and they’re losing rent money in the fallout.

The condo building that Hudson and I own – and I live in – is like a real-life Melrose Place. With sexy young twenty-somethings all living in close proximity, there’s bound to be a little drama now and again.

Right there, I was hooked. I fucking loved Melrose Place, and everything else Aaron Spelling ever touched. Do any of you guys remember Titans, where Yasmine Bleeth sleeps with Casper Van Dien and then finds out that he’s her fiancé’s son? I’m still salty that that one was cancelled because there was major drama and I have been dying to know how it was all going to shake out for the past 15 years. And now Aaron is dead, so I’ll never fucking know. Although I’m pretty sure that’s the plot of a Brooke Cumberland book I’ve got at the top of my TBR list.

But anyways, Melrose Place was referenced, I got on board with this story. So as Hudson is lecturing Hayden about diddling the tenants, Hayden is looking over his shoulder, checking out New Tenant Emery:

That firm, round ass needs a good spanking for making my dick so hard.

That’s Hayden in a nutshell. A funny, bro-y inner monologue all about his boners and the dirty things he wants to do to Emery. But he decides to prove to Hudson that he can be counted on, by being just friends with Emery.

Continue reading

Revved, by Samantha Towle


Grade: B

Doing it at: 39%

Catnip: Race Car Drivers, A Foreign Affair; Emotional Unavailability; Irish Brogue; Daddy Issues; Aftercare; Banging the Boss

Shame Scale: A little shame just because the cover makes it pretty obvious that it’s a doing it book.

Fantasy Cast: Adriana Lima; Max Irons

Book Description:

Race car mechanic Andressa “Andi” Amaro has one rule—no dating drivers. With a good reason behind the rule, she has no plans on breaking it. 

Carrick Ryan is the bad boy of Formula One. With a face and body that melts panties on sight, and an Irish lilt that leaves women on their knees, begging for more. He races hard and parties harder. The youngest driver to ever sign with F1, he’s still at the top of his game five years later, breaking hearts on and off the tracks. 

When Andi is offered her dream job working in the glamorous world of F1, she leaves her home in Brazil, positive she can handle working for Carrick. But she’s not prepared for the off-the-chart sparks that fly the moment they meet. 

Now, Andi has a crush on the one man she can’t have, and her resolve is about to be put to the test, because Carrick has decided he wants Andi, and he plans on testing her to the very limit… 

Mary: Raise your hand if you’re like me and bought this book because it has a great cover.

Cleone: The cover was the major selling point for me too, I had it bookmarked before I saw you pop it into the family library (thanks for that you stunning little sunflower).

M: The fact that it’s about an Irish race car driving manwhore was icing. Also: I used to date a guy with the last name Towle. I have googled Samantha Towle no less than three times to double check that she wasn’t a relative of his, because her name just seems really familiar to me (she does not appear to be).

The book starts out with a young Andressa (Andi) watching her Formula One race car driving dad die in a horrible explosion. I normally can’t stand books that do flashbacks in kid voice, but this one was not overly twee. Fast forward 14 years, and Andi is now a gifted mechanic, off to work on Carrick Ryan’s Formula One team with her uncle John. When she shows up, she realizes that Uncle John neglected to mention that she’s a woman, “because they wouldn’t have hired her if they knew.” Uhhh, John, even if it’s true, you’re not supposed to admit that out loud.

C: Well, its not because she’s a girl and they think girls can’t be mechanics, in Uncle John’s defense.

Continue reading

Ugly Love, by Colleen Hoover

Ugly Love

Grade: A+

Doing it at: 36%

Catnip: Hot Pilot; Hot Neighbor; Sympathetic Ex; Deep Dark Secret; Just Benefits, No Friends; Emotional Unavailability; Multiple Timelines; Dual Narrative

Shame scale: Only the tiniest bit of shame, because it’s a romance and my dad would never read it. But It has writing, and plot, and will make you feel things!

Fantasy casting: Nick Bateman, duh (Originally I went with my old standby, Tom Hardy); Candice Accola

What do we taste like: “I hope you taste like orange juice again.” Dead, Miles has killed us dead.

Book Description:

“When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn’t think it’s love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past. 
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated. 
Promises get broken. 
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.”

In honor of the new teaser trailer for the upcoming Ugly Love movie, Cleone and I thought it was time to take advantage of our weekend of joint stomach plague recovery and go back and do a re-read of one of our most favorite romances of all time. First, let’s all take a minute and watch this a few dozen a few times:

That trailer has 300,000 views, and 250,000 of them our ours, approximately.

C: I’m reading in bed until it’s time to go. My kids needed enforced down time. I need Miles

M: You should watch that trailer again.

C: Like I fucking haven’t ten times.

Tate is a nursing student who has moved into her pilot brother’s apartment while she finishes school and gets a job, he lives in a swanky apartment building that is mainly inhabited by hot, single pilots. The night she arrives, Miles, his across the hall Hot Pilot neighbor friend, is passed out against the door she needs to get in to. Her brother asks her to let him sleep it off on the couch, so she drags him in the apartment. He ends up drunkenly and heartrendingly sobbing about someone named Rachel, and Tate girl-comforts him to sleep. In the morning, Miles comes into her room with no recollection of how he ended up on Corbin’s couch, why his hand hurts so bad, and who this surly girl is. Drunken crying Miles was kind of an improvement over this sober Miles who insinuates that Tate is acting like a bitch because they hooked up the night before. Tate is sleepy and not having it and tells Miles, hey maybe we can start over after I wake up and you pull your head out of your ass (I’m paraphrasing). So, Miles does, he reintroduces himself -without much warmth –  and Tate wishes that he wasn’t so cute or big or crushable.

You might be asking yourself who this Rachel is that stone-cold Miles was crying inconsolably over; here is our back story, presented in rotating chapters. Miles chapters are set six years before, and we meet him on the day he meets Rachel. A new girl at his high school who he meets his senior year and falls very quickly in love with. Only to discover that his dad is dating her mom (they moved from Phoenix so her mom could be with his dad) and that their relationship is now forbidden. Of course that doesn’t stop them, they’re young, they’re in love, and they feel invincible together. Plus WE all know that stepsibling romances are very de rigueur.

Miles and Tate don’t have a ton of intimate time together, with her being busy and him being out of town/ closed off emotionally like Whoa, until Corbin invites him to come home to Thanksgiving with them. On the car ride there, Miles wraps his hand around Tate’s foot and I can’t explain why this is crazy sexy but trust us that it IS. Tate thinks so too. Her crush on Miles is getting pretty out of hand. Also crazy hot? Miles and Tate making out in her childhood kitchen when she ventures downstairs for orange juice. Miles may not have had sex in six years (that’s right SIX, a bomb dropped during dinner when Corbin tells his family he thought Miles was gay. SIX YEARS) but the boy knows how to kiss. Miles doesn’t want to want her, because he never wants to fall in love or have a relationship again. Tate wants his body too much to care:

“Listen to me, Miles. You’re single. I’m single. You work way too much, and I’m focused on my career in an almost unhealthy way. Even if we wanted a relationship out of this, it would never work. Our lives wouldn’t fit one. We also aren’t really friends, so we don’t have to worry about our friendship being ruined. You want to have sex with me? I’ll totally let you. A lot.”

Girl, I feel you.

Miles tells her (paraphrasing) that he’ll bang her tons, as long as she follows the rules: “Don’t ask about my past, and never expect a future.” Tate is a smart girl, and realizes the folly in making a promise like that, but he’s broody and hot, so she lies, and is all, “Sure. Definitely won’t be a problem.”

I absolutely don’t like either of those rules. They both make me want to change my mind about this arrangement and run away, but instead, I’m nodding. I’m nodding because I’ll take what I can get. I’m not Tate when I’m near Miles. I’m liquid, and liquid doesn’t know how to be firm or stand up for itself.

They start bringing the plane into the hangar every time Miles is in town. Tons. It doesn’t take long for things to get murky, when Miles is out of town pilot-ing he never calls or texts Tate. It’s like she ceases to exist the second that he can’t see her. There is also no sleeping over, no talking about the future, nothing that could be coined a “date,” but feelings are happening regardless of Miles’ stupid rules. The closest they come to a date is when Miles asks Tate to come with him to pick out some home furnishings, and when they get back, Miles is all, “I just bought this new rug. I think we should fuck on it.”

Tate thinks about Miles all the time, when she imagines ending things it hurts too much to even contemplate. So, she amends the rules to add one of her own, telling Miles to just not give her hope. She can’t end things even when her brain is telling her to run before she falls any further. Even when her older brother catches the two of them together and get Miles to admit that he doesn’t even plan to fall in love with her. That he CAN’T. Tate is breaking our hearts six ways from Sunday.

I don’t tell him to go. I shake my head. “I can’t.”

I turn my face toward his just as he’s worked his way up to my mouth, then I grab his shirt and pull him to me, knowing exactly what I’m doing to myself. I know this time won’t end any prettier than the other times, but I still want it just as much. If not more.

The back story of Miles and Rachel and WHY Miles is such an emotional trainwreck unfurls slowly, and no one is saying that his reasoning isn’t sad. But oh do we disagree with Rachel’s actions and rage at her existence.

M: I hate stupid Rachel.

C: I hate her more than I hate villains in other books because we’re supposed to sympathize with her

M: Rachel is the worst. She is ruining my life.

I think what we loved about this book, is that Hoover writes characters that seem like real people, Tate isn’t some one dimensional bimbo and Miles is frustrating but he has layers, like an onion (or a parfait). It’s easy to picture yourself in the story. Like, when we read a ridiculous stepbrother romance, it’s fun, but the characters are just like puppets created to bang for 200 pages. These characters make you lose yourself in them, and you feel the emotions and agony they’re going through. And the will they won’t they RE: Miles admitting he loves Tate is so well done. And the sex is early, frequent, and hot, of course.

Also: Does anyone have a million dollars Cleone can borrow? We saw this incredible offer on the Ugly Love Movie Indigogo campaign, and we were all, “I’m just gonna go find a cash machine.” I mean, Nick Bateman. It’s not like we all haven’t stalked his Instagram locations map to pinpoint his Canadian apartment and tossed around the idea of a road trip like crazy stalkers, right? (Really though. You should probably turn off your location services, Nick.)


“$1000000 USD Nick Bateman’s Child Change Perk All of the above, plus Nick Bateman will father your child. Think we’re kidding? We’re not…. (Executive Producer credit included)”

C: Fuck.

Let’s put it on the work credit card.

M: $1,000,000 is pretty cheap, if you think about it

C: Do you think he would wear that captain’s hat?

Check it out on Amazon:

Nameless, by Claire Kent


Grade: C-

Doing it at: 4%

Catnip: Accidental Pregnancy; Mature Rational Decisions; Emotional Unavailability

Shame Scale: Low shame, this is pretty close to a real book, dammit

Fantasy Cast: Lee Pace; Anna Paquin

Book Description:

They named it anything but love.

After a failed marriage to a domineering man, Erin refuses to be controlled by anything or anyone. That includes Seth, the father of her baby—a man who was supposed to be only a one-night-stand, a man who’s used to always getting his way.

There’s a reason that Seth Thomas, a successful defense attorney, is often referred to as the Bulldozer. If something needs to happen, he makes it happen. That includes being part of his baby’s life—even if he never expected to be a father, even if Erin doesn’t really trust him.

They’ll work out an arrangement in the best interest of their baby—and if they occasionally have sex, well, that’s just an added perk—but they both agree on one thing.

What they have will never be love.

I was crazy excited for this book. Mary sent me a link to it with the text “Happy early birthday, I better get a good review”, and I was all “SQUUEEEEE.” You see the whole synopsis is super catnip to me; I totally totally want to have a bar baby. Its pretty common for me to mention in any sort of company that I want to reenact the song All I Wanna Do by Heart. And here was Nameless! Just look at that cover! That girl totally looks like she’s young and in trouble; making bad eye make up decisions and having an awesome secret pregnancy. Alas bitches, alas alas, that was not what the book held for me.

Nameless opens with our gal Erin at a funeral for a neighbor, a man who was a lifelong friend of her father. She’s divorced from a controlling man, dedicated to a career that wasn’t what she dreamed of but that she likes OK, and is close to her small family. Seth is there too, he was the dead man’s closest kin and no one is talking to him. Apparently Seth was a dick when he came to live with his uncle as a teen and the whole town is still holding it against him. Even though now he’s grown up and a hot-shot lawyer who makes the gossip pages, and has lots of money. It seems kind of shitty of a whole town to hold a grudge against a troubled kid; and Erin thinks so too. The troubled kid comes home was reminding me of Jess and Rory, and my hopes for this book were getting even higher, a little Gilmore Girls wishful thinking never hurt a book. Erin starts talking to Seth, they head to a bar for a drink, and end up having several. The more they talk and drink the more it becomes clear that they both really want to see the other one naked, so they go back to his uncle’s house for some lust and thrust. We’re still doing OK at this point. No Erin isn’t going to be knocked up by a stranger but we can overlook this one little disappointment! The sex is well written; its realistic and a little awkward and Claire needs actual clitoral stimulation to get where she’s going. I especially appreciated that, so often in these books the guy like blows a puff of air down there and our girl shatters into a million pieces. UNREALISTIC.

They have their sex, Erin declines to stay the night because she a modern woman, and she chalks it up to a really great one night stand. Until her period doesn’t come. I was expecting:

A: Erin keeps the baby secret until Seth sees her heavily pregnant (they both work in the court system so this is a good possibility)

B: Erin tells Seth and he doesn’t believe the baby is his (he’s been talked of as kind of a douche and dates around a lot, so this is also a good possibility)

C: Seth demands she get an abortion, she lets him think she did, and then he sees them two years later and is all WHOA NELLY (Again douche, good possibility)

What I get is nothing like any of those. Nameless gives me two mature adults having a rational discussion about an accidental pregnancy. To be absolutely clear this was not what I wanted in my bar baby book. I wanted secrets and yelling and then the eventual acceptance and crazy head over heels love. I wanted maybe 250 pages of plot then an easy HEA, possibly before the baby is even born.

Instead I get Erin and Seth having very occasional sex to scratch her pregnancy itch. I get a labor scene that gave me traumatic flashbacks — the author has either had natural child-birth or is a goddamn psychic — and a confession of love at the worst possible moment. I get a pages long scene of a child who doesn’t want to pick up Cheerios. Epilogue after epilogue detailing their HEA with nary a screaming match or mistake to be found.  At one point, its been made to seem like Seth is cheating on her and Erin very calmly decides that it can’t be what it looks like and talks to him instead of doing something rash. This is a great real life reaction, but in a book that I had such high trash hopes for it kind of sucks. Trash books don’t need to let the reader know that Seth made space for her in his apartment by redecorating a room, or that he supports her decisions to go back to school or not go back to school, or that he worries about how she’ll pay for child care. Less realism and more doin’ it in hallways, por favor.

Again, the doin’ it in this doin’ it book is A level work. The pregnancy sex takes angles of penetration and awkwardness and Erin not feeling hot in to account. Kent does those things and STILL makes the sex sexy. She deals with breastfeeding mom having boobs full of milk frankly and without any embarrassment. I kind of felt like I was reading a pregnant and new mom sex how-to guide at times. Is it OK to be mad that my book wasn’t trashy enough?

You guys this was not a true bar baby book. This was practically a REAL book about love and parenting and emotional growth only with some good hard fucking thrown in to liven things up. I’m so disappointed. If I want to read about “imagine his surprise when he saw his own eyes”, I’m just going to have to write it myself.

Love Her Madly, by Christie Ridgeway

love her madly

Grade: B

Doing it at: 48%

Catnip: Girl Next Door; Best Friend’s Brother; Twins; Deep Dark Secret; Fake Relationship; Rock Stars; Tattoos; Drummers; Light Bondage; Emotional Unavailability; Dual Narrative; Floor Sex

Shame Scale: This story had way better sex than I was anticipating and several moments of Jeez I hope no one looks over my shoulder, but the real shame here comes from the cover. That model reminds me of the man who claims to be so beautiful he’s illegal in his country or some nonsense like that, and bathed in a ridiculous ethereal light. Cover SHAME.

Fantasy Cast: Ian Somerhalder and Rachel Bilson

Book Description:

“Years ago, Rolling Stone magazine dubbed the nine collective children of the most famous band in the world “Rock Royalty.” Now all grown up, the princes and princesses are coming back to L.A.’s Laurel Canyon to discover if love can be found among the ruins of a childhood steeped in sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. “Bad twin” Bing Maddox has wanted his brother’s BFF Alexa Alessio for months, but he’s stayed away because she’s too hearts-and-family for his jaded soul. Ever since a good deed turned to a dark regret, he’s buried his guilt in a series of forgettable flings with women who wanted nothing more. But when delicious Alexa needs a plus one to some upcoming wedding events, he gives in to his urges and goes all out in pursuit of getting her into his bed. Alexa Alessio doesn’t know how it happened—one moment she was being smart and keeping herself separate from seen-everything, done-everything, wildly sexy Bing Maddox and the next she was agreeing he could be her date. Sure she wants back-up when her cousin marries Alexa’s own stolen ex, but Bing’s made it clear he wants her on her back. Her heart says yes—but her common sense tells her it might be the very thing broken when commitment-phobic Bing moves on. She can have him, but can she hold him?”

The synopsis of this one has so much catnip for me: bad boy, weird rock star parent past, best friend’s brother, fake relationship, and a big wedding. I’ve never read anything by the author, or heard of her, so I was a little worried this might be a book with either no buttering the biscuit or really lame buttering the biscuit. Luckily my fears were dispelled by page 10 when I got this snippet:

He wondered what she’d do if she knew how bad that pose made him want to flip up her skirt, rip off her panties, then shove her thighs apart to taste her honeyed heat. The tip of his tongue would slide between her soft folds teasing out the button of her clit.

Once I knew no prude-ery was in store for me, I plunged right in to enjoy the story. Bing Maddox (I know I KNOW) and his twin brother Brody, are the children of a rock star, brought up pretty much feral with the seven other offspring of the band members. They indulged very heavily in the rock’n’roll party life style of their father until their 18th birthday when SOMETHING BAD happened; and they fled to start new slightly more wholesome lives. The twins ended up living in bungalows on either side of sweet, good as gold, pretty as pie Alexa. Alexa and Brody are buddies, they run together most mornings, drink beer and chat, and have zero sexual chemistry. Bing, on the other hand, Alexa tries to completely avoid because even though he’s Brody’s identical twin her feelings for him are completely different. She wants to do all the dark dirty things with Bing. And unbeknownst to Alexa, he wants to do those dirty things right back to her.  The two manage to avoid each other until Alexa mistakes Bing for Brody and spills how her evil cousin has stolen her fiance, is marrying him herself, forcing Alexa to play the happy bridesmaid, AND stealing all the wedding ideas that Alexa was going to use at her own wedding. This cousin Drea sounds real fun right? Alexa ends her rant by demanding that Brody go with her to wedding functions to have her back and prove to the family that she isn’t some pining, heart sick loser. Only its not Brody who agrees, its Bing. I think we all see where this is going, right?

Bing and Alexa think they can go about their arrangement, fool her family, and not give into the desires they have to rip each others clothes off. Alexa because she is scared of how much she wants him, and because she thinks she wants a nice steady boring type guy. And Bing (that name ladies, you just don’t ever stop thinking its ridiculous) because he thinks he’s dirty and irredeemable and would soil Alexa by being with her for real. Of course, their attraction proves to be too much and when Alexa goes to find Bing after a bad night when she fears he may be battling demons they give in to their desires and have hot dirty sex on the floor of what is basically a finished basement. Bing’s Bing’ing her and thinking how he could never get enough and he’ll have to go against his life-law of never sleeping with a woman more than once; and Alexa rolls off him and is all “OH! Thank goodness we got that out of our systems and will never have to have the sex again.” He’s disappointed but figures its for the best and that he’s too big and bad and full of secrets for her anyway.

When we finally find out his DEEP DARK secret, it’s pretty non shocking, as I figured it would be because this is an easy soft kind of New Adult read. I mean that in the best possible way, the characters are likable, the dialog is believable and funny, and the HEA comes before the author wears out her welcome with waffling and drama. The sex scenes were better than I was anticipating; not too heavy on bad metaphors for female moisture and with some light bondage thrown in for good measure. Bing plays the drums and after this and Play, I’m becoming concerned that I might have a legitimate “thing” for men and their sticks. I read this on a sunny, lazy weekend and it was the perfect book to go with the weather. Love Her Madly is the second book in the Rock Royalty series, and I’m already pretty solidly decided on reading the entirety of the series.

I Want it That Way, by Ann Aguirre

I want it that way

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 51%

Catnip: Single Dads; Ginger Men; Neighbors; Emotional Unavailabilty; Not Backstreet Boys Fanfiction

Shame Scale: Light shame.

Fantasy Casting: Domhnall Gleeson, Adelaide Kane

Book Description:

“Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating’s the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.”

Ann Aguirre has this whole series of books with titles that are Backstreet Boys songs: I Want It That Way, As Long As You Love Me, The Shape of My Heart. They are NOT in actuality, Backstreet Boys fanfic. They do NOT have anything to do with the Backstreet Boys at all. The author just thought it was cute to get all my hopes up I guess? I almost didn’t read this book because that news was so disappointing, but Cleone gave it an emphatic thumbs up and the library had it in.

The book opens with Nadia moving into an apartment above Ty. She splits the seam of her pants while trying to lift a sofa straight away, so I can already relate to her character. Anyways, he’s a hot ginger, she’s thinking Yum, but he’s fairly standoffish. He complains about the noise on their first night in the apartment, but then Nadia realizes there’s a kid down there, so she decides to be respectful and quiet. They clearly have an attraction, but neither is acting on it. One night, Nadia ends up in Ty’s apartment, and they end up cuddling on the couch. There’s a really sweet bit of Nadia stroking Ty’s red hair (confession, we Shame Girls have a ginger fetish):

Encouraged, I stroked in gentle little swoops, until he was practically purring. “You’re a ginger tabby,” I teased as he turned, so I could reach the other side. “Please,” he mumbled. “I’m totally a battle-scarred tom.”

Ty confesses that he’s attracted to her, but NOTHING can or will happen between them; she’s his neighbor, she works at his son’s daycare, and if it went bad, it could negatively affect his son.

“That’s why I can’t sleep with you. We’re friends. We have to be. Because you live in my building, because you’re smart, funny, and I like you, and you work at Rainbow Academy. If we hook up and it doesn’t work out, it’ll change how we are together, and that would hurt Sam.”

Predictably, because admitting you’re attracted to someone and then vowing to never hook up is not the best strategy, they hook-up. It’s steamy hot. As a responsible dad, Ty insists that in the future, they keep their hook-ups to the one weekend a month when his son stays with his parents, and they do. Hormones are kept in check, they text, and they continue their responsible lives. Nadia works hard at all her school work and her job, Ty keeps on single dadding…. From a real life mom’s perspective, I’m emphatically in agreement with this strategy. It’s all just wonderfully responsible.

But then, it also feels pretty extreme – they live directly above/below one another, and it seems to me that you could probably find some time for a little sneaky hallway snogging and such since his son probably goes to bed at 8pm. Just saying. Hormones n’at.

Ty is adamant that he does not want to become involved with a woman until his son is grown and raised. Because: Ty has Emotional Attachment Issues. His baby mama took off like a thief in the night, and now he’s convinced that any woman will eventually leave. He needed a character flaw, and this one was acceptable to me. Nadia also accepts it, even though it stings, because she’s a pretty nice girl with above average maturity.

Spoiler: They fall in love, drama ensues.

One of the great things about this book was that the secondary characters were fleshed out with their own story lines. I felt like I was reading about an actual set of roommates, not just one girl with roommates who flit around when needed and do things to move the central character’s plot along. The next book features Lauren, Nadia’s best friend, and Rob, Nadia’s Brother, so some of this was obviously setting us up for the next book, but it worked really well, without feeling like an advertisement.

And there’s definitely some of bananas and cream in this one, lest you think it sounds a bit too Book-like. It’s not erotica, but the romantic tension is fabulous, and they don’t rush it. Not romance novel fantasy sex with epic organs and endless O’s, but more like the kind of great-chemistry-perfect-fit-real-life sex that actual people have (which is hotter, right?). There was a great mention of shower sex, and how it challenges your dexterity.

Then we took a final bedtime shower and managed tricky shower sex. He’d been right not to start with it, because it took some doing, and once he almost fell over.

I’ve always marveled about romance novels because they’re always doing it in the shower. Shower sex rarely works out as well as you think it will in my vast experience, just saying. People are slipping around, the water makes for weird lubrication…. (Also, hot tubs.)

It was really hard to give this one a cheeky review because it was all very realistic, relatable, reasonable, and responsible. I adored it, but it’s not a funny book. It’s a well written story about two characters that seem entirely human, with an actual, conceivable plot. I give it an A-.

Check it out on Amazon:

Where Sea Meets Sky, by Karina Halle

Where Sea Meets Sky

Grade: A

Doing it at: 6%

Catnip: Tattoos; Artists; New Zealand; Canadians; Quarter-life Crisis; Existential Angst; Volkswagen Camper; Emotional Unavailability; International Romance; Sex En Plein Air

Shame Scale: Moderate. It’s definitely not one for reading in public. There’s loads of blush-worthy sex so you don’t want to be reading on the bus *Ahem Cleone.*

Fantasy Casting: Douglas Booth; Shay Mitchell

Book Description:

“Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can’t get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.

It’s not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma’s name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go—even when you know you have to say goodbye.”

I loved this book. It gave me feels, and I almost never get feels anymore. It’s a book written about early twenty-somethings that actually manages a realistic voice, and captures that feeling of being set free into adulthood without a map. I could relate to it. It felt nostalgic, like reading about my ten-years-younger self. AND there was a satisfying romance with tons of two person push-ups.

Josh (Vera’s little brother from ‘Love in English‘) meets Gemma at a Halloween party in Vancouver (Josh’s home town), where he’s dressed like Khal Drogo, and she’s Vampire Leila, from Futurama. Gemma is on her last day of a backpacking trip around North America, heading back to New Zealand the next day. They click, they bang on a pool table, then they bang all night in Josh’s mom’s house – where he lives because for once this is a realistic book about twenty-somethings – and they discover that they actually really like each other. They’re both struggling with that quarter-life crisis ennui, and Gemma tells Josh that he should get out and travel, have a life-changing experience.

Flash-forward, Josh can’t stop thinking about Gemma and decides to quit his crappy job and take off to New Zealand for a few months before he starts art school. He somehow manages to find her, even though he doesn’t know her last name – only that she works at a gym, and they both realize the sparks are all still there. Gemma unfortunately did not find her trip to be a life changing experience – she’s fallen back into the same job and the same shitty meat head boyfriend she had been trying to get away from. She invites Josh along on road trip around New Zealand in an old VW Camper that she’s about to take with her cousin (who stars in Halle’s next one), and then to make the book fun, her dickhead boyfriend decides to come in a show of territoriality. All the forbidden feelings and jealously stuff that you would expect show up for a while, but since this is a romance, you’re basically just waiting for dickhead to take off so they can get to the point. Aka beach sex.

On top of that, this book read like a love letter to New Zealand and it made me want to drop everything and book a trip. The descriptions of the country and the places they visited were insanely evocative. I’ve always thought that the only reason to go to New Zealand was to see sheep, get skin cancer, and to travel the path to Mordor and climb Mount Doom. But apparently New Zealand is a goddamn paradise with glowworm caves and volcanos and loads of teal blue beaches.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I bought my first Karina Halle book because I liked her book covers. I am a marketing woman’s dream. I adored The Pact, decided to try Love in English, and obviously enjoyed Where Sea Meets Sky. I’m putting her on my automatic pre-order list, because everything I’ve read so far has been golden. Lots of listless characters, no dicking around about the dicking, and gorgeous international themes woven throughout. I’m feeling curious about her older series and you’ll probably be seeing them on here in the near future.

Check it out on Amazon: