Reading Round-Up | February 2024

Twisted Games by Ana Huang 

In one sentence: When Princess Bridget von Ascheberg gets assigned a broody and arrogant elite bodyguard named Rhys Larsen, they clash immediately but it isn't long before their relationship goes from hate to love. (Add to Goodreads)

⭐⭐⭐✨ 3.5 stars | I originally hadn't planned on continuing this series but when your best friend buys you a copy for Christmas and insists you'll like it, you listen. And naturally, she was right! This was definitely a stronger and more enjoyable installment of Huang's Twisted series. The princess and the bodyguard certainly isn't a new trope but I adored Bridget and seeing Rhys' tender moments beneath his stoic exterior definitely made me swoon. That said, he was still a little too alpha male for me which seems to be my problem in general with the heroes in Twisted (granted, Rhy is 10x better than the previous book's love interest). I'm not in any hurry to continue the series but I'll admit, I am curious to keep reading!

Even If It Breaks Your Heart by Erin Hahn

In one sentence: Two teenagers are each struggling with something difficult in their lives but what brings them together is a genuine love of horses and the rodeo, and their determination to figure out what the future holds for them. (Add to Goodreads - Thanks Wednesday Books for the e-galley!)

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | It's been far too long since I've read a YA horse romance so when more than one friend put Even If It Breaks Your Heart on my radar, I didn't hesitate to pre-order it. It's a very quiet slice-of-life novel that follows two nineteen year olds (I like that they're older!), Case Michaels, who's dealing with the loss of his best friend, and Winnie Sutton, who is practically raising her two younger siblings and absentee dad. She works at Case's father's ranch and while at first she wants nothing to do with Case, they slowly become friends through their love of horses and by putting in the time to get to know one another. Oftentimes that part gets rushed and I enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold from hesitant friends, to becoming each other's person, and eventually love (all against the backdrop of the rodeo and ranch!).  

ASAP by Axieh Oh

In one sentence: ASAP, the companion novel to XOXO, follows Sori, the wealthy daughter of a K-Pop company owner, and Nathaniel, her K-Pop exboyfriend, get a second chance at love. (Add to Goodreads Thanks HarperTeen for the e-galley!)

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | I wanted Sori and Nathaniel's story from the moment I met them in XOXO and Oh absolutely delivered. I'm not a K-Pop fan by any means, aside from liking a handful of songs, but I'll admit I do enjoy reading about the behind-the-scenes life of that world. Sori and Nathaniel broke up because they couldn't be together and become pop stars so they mutually chose their careers. But in this novel, we see Sori decide stardom isn't what she wants and for Nathaniel and her, struggle with the pressure that comes with the popularity and not wanting to disappoint those around them. It allows them to reconnect and the chemistry, not to mention tension, between them was tangible. Stardom aside, the book is really about figuring their own paths, love, family, and friendship (Sori and Jenny continuing to be BFFs made me smile) which is ultimately what made me enjoy this book so much. 

Love Redesigned (Lakefront Billionaires #1) by Lauren Asher

In one sentence: Love Redesigned is a steamy, small town romance about two family friends-turned-childhood rivals, told in alternating point-of-views between Julian and Dahlia. (Add to Goodreads)

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | Childhood rivals, second chance romance, and a man who will do anything for the woman he loves while being devoted to his family? This is literally all the things I love wrapped into one book. The story dives right in and immediately sets the stage with unresolved tension and history between Julian and Dahlia. It's clear there's a spark between these two and the author does a great job of letting their relationship build in the present, while peppering the story with nods to their past. Seeing the whole picture of their romance makes it impossible not to root for them (along with their hopeful mamas!) and my heart melted seeing the much-needed joy and levity they brought to one another's lives. It was the right balance of angst and just feel-good romance. 

Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

In one sentence: Valancy Stirling is 29 years old, unmarried, and never been in love but when she gets a shocking diagnosis, she decides to take all the chances. (Add to Goodreads)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars | As someone who adores Anne and barely tolerated Emily, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I met Valancy. Yet within the first few pages, I found myself relating to her deeply. Unlike the two aforementioned heroines who we meet as young girls, Valancy is 29 years old, unmarried, and never experience true love or friendship. Instead, she's had a not-so-pleasantly family constantly provoke her about her looks or lack of marriage prospects. When she receives shocking news from her doctor, it's the catalyst she needed and that's when the book gets even better! She takes her life by the reins, making huge and necessary changes, and for the first time in her life, truly speaks her mind. Snarky, honest Valancy is truly a wonder to behold. The book felt ahead of its time, feminist, vulnerable, and humorous. Even though Anne is still my favorite heroine of LMM, I can confidently say that Valancy is my second. 

Lighting round

Other books I've read lately...
  • House of Flame and Shadow (Crescent City #3) by Sarah J. Maas⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars | It's impossible to truly review this book without spoiling so I'll just say this, it was epic and amazing and I want more SJM books immediately. 
  • Dance Upon the Air (Three Sisters Island, #1): ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars | This is an older novel that I was curious about and buddy-read with Alexa recently. The blend of witch lore set against a small town and one woman's journey of coming into her own power (literally and figuratively) was enjoyable to read. 
  • Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars | I listened to this on audio and while Acevedo's narration was incredible, I admittedly struggled to connect to the story and these women's "powers" even though I did like the multi-generational aspect of it. 

What have you read lately?


with love,