The Play, by Karina Halle

The Play

Grade: A+

Doing it at: 33%

Catnip: Hot Scot, A Foreign Affair, Puppy Love, Tattoos, Beards, Strong Female Lead, Big Brooding Hero, Brogue, Hot Scot, Rugby Players, Epic, Deep Dark Secrets, Shower Sex, Dual Narrative, #DISP, #TeamAnal

Shame Scale: Not a drop, The Play is a big, sweeping romance that will break your heart and you will feel fine recommending to anyone (no machetes in this one!)

Fantasy Cast: Tom Hardy, Kristin Kreuk

Book Description:

A troubled Scottish rugby player who doesn’t play by the rules.
A vivacious man-eater who’s given up on love.
When it comes to Lachlan and Kayla, opposites don’t just attract – they explode.

From the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact and The Offer, comes The Play, a standalone spinoff and contemporary romance about taking chances and rescuing hearts.

Kayla Moore has always been comfortable with her feisty, maneating reputation. At least it was fine until she hit her thirties and saw her best friends Stephanie and Nicola settle down with Linden and Bram McGregor, leaving Kayla to be the odd one out. Tired of being the third wheel with nothing but one-night stands and dead-end dates in San Francisco, Kayla decides to take a vow of celibacy and put men on the backburner.

That is until she lays her eyes on Linden and Bram’s cousin, hot Scot Lachlan McGregor. Lachlan is her sexual fantasy come to life – tall, tatted, and built like a Mack truck. With a steely gaze and successful rugby career back in Edinburgh, he’s the kind of man that makes her want to throw her vow right out the window. But Lachlan’s quiet and intense demeanor makes him a hard man to get to know, let alone get close to.

It isn’t until the two of them are thrown together one long, unforgettable night that Kayla realizes there is so much more to this brooding macho man than what meets the eye. But even with sparks flying between the two, Lachlan can’t stay in America forever. Now, Kayla has to decide whether to uproot her whole life and chance it all on someone she barely knows or risk getting burned once again.

Sometimes love is a game that just needs to be played.


Mary: By now you all probably realize that we’re a little evangelical about Karina Halle new releases. We’re fan girls and it’s hard for us to have any chill. But this book, you guys. This was the best thing I’ve read all year. Ridiculously sexy, achingly evocative, this one dragged us all over the emotional map.

PLUS: $1 from every preorder/release day sale is going to save-the-puppy charities, which is so fucking generous you guys – it’s a $3 book. And I’m not saying that a month of rescue dogs flooding my news feed sparked the start of a long-con on my husband so that we can get a puppy, but I will say that I will probably have a doggie by Christmastime.

Cleone: Rescue pups play a big part in the book, and this one had me hugging my pup extra tight (for support while I cried). AND looking at local dogs for adoption, for Mary ostensibly.

M: The Play is huge; it’s really two novels in one. Karina Halle generously sent us ARC’s for early review, but we got it in two chunks, roughly two weeks apart. So we read the first half and then tried to live normal lives even though we were basically dead inside, waiting for the second half. We could really do this whole review via text screenshots.

Play hangover

play hangover 1

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Breaking Away, by Toni Aleo

breaking away

Grade: B

Doing it at: 21%

Catnip: Hockey Players; Beards; Tattoos; Dancers; Secret Lovers; Shower Sex; Strong Female Lead; Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: Low Shame, but since I’ve come out of the romance closet I’m experiencing less book shame in general

Fantasy Cast:  Brooks Laich*; Ginnifer Goodwin

Book Description:

To Nashville Assassins’ leading scoring center Phillip Anderson, playing hockey has always been easy… as natural as breathing. His life is no different. That’s until his world is turned upside down by the death of his sister. While mourning his loss, Phillip has to find a way to make his very angry sixteen-year-old niece, Claire, happy. Now, as her guardian, he discovers the only thing that seems to heal her lonely heart is dance class. But what he didn’t count on was the attraction he’d feel towards her drop-dead sexy dance teacher.

For Reese Allen, dancing has always been part of her soul. After having her heart broken in New York, she comes home with the determination to make her dance studio one of the best in Tennessee and succeeds. When she sees Claire dance for the first time, she knows the girl is bound for greatness and takes the troubled teen under her wing. Using dance as therapy, she suddenly finds herself bound to the young woman… and her hot-as-sin uncle.

However, Phillip and Reese are happy in their single lives. It’s simple. They do what they want, who they want, and how they want, but from the moment they meet, the attraction is undeniable. Soon, they are more than willing to spend just one night tangled in the sheets. But, one night turns into two, and two turns into three, until they find themselves in a repeated dance of “One Last Time” that has the potential to be something more… if only Reese and Claire allow it.

Can Phillip find a way to thaw the hearts of both the women in his life, or will he be forever trying to break them away from their pasts?


Breaking Away is my second Toni Aleo read, its the fifth book in her Assassin’s Series, which I am (of course) gleefully reading out of order. And you know what I’m really liking about her book boyfriends? These boys are all in, the hedging and mixed feelings are coming from our heroines. It’s a genuine delight to read about guys who aren’t scared of their feelings.

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Dark Wild Night, by Christina Lauren

dark wild night

Grade: A

Doing it at: 43%

Catnip: Friends to Lovers, Beta Hero, Aussies, #TeamAnal, Shower Sex, Strong Female Lead, Bulge Talk

Shame Scale: Super low shame, it’s a fantastic book – but it gets pretty steamy so you’re not going to want to read this one while you’re waiting in the lobby to talk to your kid’s preschool teacher.

Fantasy Cast: This version of Tom Welling, Mila Kunis

Book Description:

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS STAYS IN VEGAS. BUT WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN VEGAS SEEMS TO FOLLOW THEM EVERYWHERE—Book Three in the sexy, fun New York Times bestselling Wild Seasons series that began with Sweet Filthy Boy (the Romantic Times Book of the Year) and Dirty Rowdy Thing.

Lola and Oliver like to congratulate themselves on having the good sense not to consummate their drunken Las Vegas marriage. If they’d doubled-down on that mistake, their Just Friends situation might not be half as great as it is now.

…Or so goes the official line.

In reality, Lola’s wanted Oliver since day one—and over time has only fallen harder for his sexy Aussie accent and easygoing ability to take her as she comes. More at home in her studio than in baring herself to people, Lola’s instinctive comfort around Oliver nearly seems too good to be true. So why ruin a good thing?

Even as geek girls fawn over him, Oliver can’t get his mind off what he didn’t do with Lola when he had the chance. He knows what he wants with her now…and it’s far outside the friend zone. When Lola’s graphic novel starts getting national acclaim—and is then fast-tracked for a major motion picture—Oliver steps up to be there for her whenever she needs him. After all, she’s not the kind of girl who likes all that attention, but maybe she’s the kind who’ll eventually like him.

Sometimes seeing what’s right in front of us takes a great leap of faith. And sometimes a dark wild night in Vegas isn’t just the end of a day, but the beginning of a bright new life…


Mary: Alright guys. Book three in the Wild Seasons series, all of which are fantastic. Seriously, this series is a top five for me. Heart stopping romance, perfectly dreamy heroes, and love scenes that are almost poetic.

Cleone: We read the other two books BBS (Before Book Shame), so this is our first chance to talk about how much we love this series and book boyfriends Ansel and Finn.

M: Lola and Oliver are the last pair in their friend circle who haven’t hooked up yet. They were married (and annulled) in Vegas along with Ansel and Mia, and Finn and Harlow in the beginning of Sweet Filthy Boy, but unlike their friends, they did not consummate things, and have kept things strictly, rigidly, in the best friend zone ever since.

Of course, the two other couples who hooked up in Vegas – our friends Mia and Ansel, and Harlow and Finn – are happily married. But Oliver and I occasionally (especially when drunk) like to commend ourselves for being the only ones who did the shotgun Vegas wedding thing like normal people: with nothing but regret, an annulment, and a hangover.

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Worth Any Price, Lisa Kleypas

worth any price

Grade: B+

Doing it at:  48%

Catnip: Historicals, Your First and Your Last, Shower Sex, Rescue Me, Fake it Till You Make It

Shame Scale: Kleypas is the creme de la creme of modern historical romance, low shame.

Fantasy Cast:  Aidan Turner, Mia Wasikowska

Book Description:

Nick Gentry, the most seductive and dangerous man in England, has been sent to find Charlotte Howard, a runaway bride who has disappeared without a trace. But when he finds her, Nick is stunned by the intensity of his attraction to the elusive young woman whose adventurous spirit matches his own.

Determined to escape a forced marriage to a man who will destroy her, Charlotte agrees to an audacious bargain . . . she will become Nick Gentry’s bride. But soon she discovers that Nick has secrets of his own, and it will take all her wits and stubborn will to tame his tormented soul.

In the desperate quest to protect Charlotte from the diabolical aristocrat who threatens her, one thing becomes clear:

To save the woman he loves, Nick will take any risk . . . and pay any price.


I’ve been buried neck deep in contemporary romance and realized that its been months since I dove into a historical. Having received an avalanche of Amazon gift cards for my birthday I got myself Worth Any Price, which has been on my wishlist for months. Lisa Kleypas is my favorite historical romance author. I consider her Wallflower series required reading for any romance fan, and credit the girls over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books with turning me on to her.

Worth Any Price is book three in the Bow Street Runner series, I haven’t read the other two (I Know I Know), but was able to follow the story just fine without it. Kleypas’ series books can usually be read as stand-alones that are enhanced by having read the previous books but it isn’t a do or die.

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