Nuts, by Alice Clayton

nuts

Grade: A

Doing it at: 50%

Catnip: Farmer Boy; Small Town; Sex En Plein Air; Strong Female Lead; No Strings Attached; Summer Loving; Skinny Dipping; Food Porn

Shame Scale: There’s no hiding this is a romance, but its a sweet, smart romance that evokes no shame in the enjoying.

Fantasy Cast:  Wilson Bethel; Rachel Bilson

Book Description:

Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.

When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?

Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.


Alice Clayton gives her books fantastic names, like Wallbanger and Screwdrivered. And while the books have salacious titles, they all have smart heroines, and a tendency to make me laugh out loud. Mary pre-ordered this one way back in April, and after I finished Nuts I was ready to pre-order the second book in this series (Its called Cream for cripes sake). Nuts is crazy good, you guys.

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The Taming of the Billionaire, by Jessica Clare

The taming of the billionaire

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 51%

Catnip: Shakespeare; Enemies to Lovers; Billionaires; Cat Lady; Evil Sister; Dual Narrative; Sex En Plein Air

Shame scale: Low to moderate. It’s light and formulaic, but well written.

Fantasy casting: Timothy Olyphant, Jennifer Garner

Book Description:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Billionaire and the Virgin returns with a tale of Shakespearean-style seduction…

Edie’s an overbearing cat behaviorist who’s not big on people. Magnus is a newly-rich game developer who likes to be in control. When the two of them meet at Gretchen and Hunter’s masquerade engagement party, the loathing is mutual. Unfortunately for them—and everyone else—they’re in the wedding party together and must deal with each other for the next few months.

But when Magnus’s younger brother falls for Edie’s sister, he begs for his brother’s help in concocting a plan to win her over. If Magnus can keep the prickly Edie occupied, his brother will have time to woo Edie’s sister. Of course, Magnus isn’t interested in the slightest, but Edie is…intriguing. And stubborn. And smart. And sexy. And they might have more in common than they thought.

This book is part of the Billionaires and Bridesmaids series. We were lucky enough to receive an ARC for this one, which will be released on July 21, 2015. I’ve had a few Jessica Clare books on my wish list for awhile (Yes, Beauty and the Billionaire is the one I’m most anxious to get my hands on if you must know), so I was excited to see what her style is like. This book is loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ which admittedly, I have not read. Confession time: even when I read Books, I didn’t ever really get into the classics. I googled it though, and based on my extensive Wikipedia research I can say that there are indeed some similarities between ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ and ‘The Taming of the Billionaire.’

The book opens with Edie and her sister Bianca arriving at Gretchen and Hunter’s mansion (the couple from Beauty and the Billionaire, which I now definitely have to read because Gretchen is amazing) for a dinner for the members of their wedding party. Edie has a bad knee from an old accident that causes her to limp, and she brings her sister Bianca everywhere “for help” – although as far as I could tell the help was pretty much just driving and being awful. Bianca is a giant See-You-Next-Tuesday, the kind of woman who acts angelic and selfless as a way to make herself look good. AKA my favorite kind of villain. She’s obviously intent on going to the party she wasn’t invited to because the host is rich and she wants to land a rich husband. Spoilers are coming. If you’d like to avoid, scroll directly down from one cat lady to the other.

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After a brief tour of the mansion, Edie’s bum knee is bothering her, so she sneaks off to rest. She happens upon Magnus in the kitchen, where he some of the groomsmen are joking about how there won’t be any hot bridesmaids at this wedding to hook up with, since Gretchen is weird. Likely all nerds and cat ladies. Edie just so happens to be a professional cat lady. Like, she runs a business as a cat behaviorist.

Edie is outraged (probably because everything they’re saying is true and she knows it), and makes sure they all know how grownup mad she is by giving them the stone cold ice queen treatment. Magnus is our billionaire hero in this one, and he thinks Edie is hot, but that any potential bangability is completely negated by her personality. So basically, great cat nippy foundation for a romance. Girl hates guy, guy thinks girl is a frigid bitch.

Later though, Levi, Magnus’s brother/business partner/creative genius, proclaims that he is in love with Bianca, and can’t work until he is able to date her. For some reason Bianca has told him she can’t go out with him because she’s too dedicated to her sister. It’s an awkward plot device, but we’ll let it go. Bianca and Levi came up with a plan to have Magnus adopt a cat and hire Edie as the cat behaviorist, so they can sneak off and fool around. It’s obnoxious and manipulative, but Magnus agrees because he is annoyed and wants to get this over with so they can meet their software development deadlines.

Levi and Bianca continue to jerk Magnus and Edie around. They even go so far as to make Magnus take Edie out on a date. At this point he is rather sick of the two of them, realizes that he actually kind of likes Edie, and decides he wants nothing to do with their bullshit games. He decides to be an adult and starts dating Edie for himself, but the betrayal of his initial pursuit of her is still buried there between them.

There’s not too much doing it in this one, but what there is is decent. It’s not bad, not exceptional. The first time the P enters the V is in a garden, that was pretty fun. But otherwise, the sex in this one is metaphorically canned chicken soup.

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This book wasn’t life changing, but it was very engaging for a regular old romance. The characters were interesting enough to be memorable, and the enemies-to-lovers story managed to feel fresh. It was kind of like a Kate Hudson Rom Com: fun, enjoyable, with no emotional hangover. A great lazy weekend book. I’m definitely going to pick up Beauty and the Billionaire, but I’ll probably wait for a sale.

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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: