New Adult, New Adult Romance, Romance

My Review: The Hating Game: by Sally Thorne

Publish Date: August 9th, 2016
Number of Pages: 362 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Genre(s): Romance, New Adult

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them. I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations.

Love and hate are visceral. Your stomach twists at the thought of that person. The heart in your chest beats heavy and bright, nearly visible through your flesh and clothes. Your appetite and sleep are shredded. Every interaction spikes your blood with adrenaline, and you’re in the brink of fight or flight. Your body is barely under your control. You’re consumed, and it scares you.

Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game – and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know.”

– Sally Thorne, “The Hating Game”

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.


Hello readers! I am trying a new format for how my reviews will look here on my blog, so this one will be the first one to test it out (feel free to comment what you think, I’m hoping this will have it flow better by having the blurb go first then go into more details on my thoughts below that).

The Hating Game has been a title that has been tossed around quite a bit ever since it came out, and I knew I was going to read it eventually, but the news that it’s being made into a movie starring Lucy Hale and Robbie Amell only made me want to bump it up on my TBR list! So does it live up to the hype?

Honestly, Yes and No, I mean it’s not blow-your-mind amazing, but it certainly has a lot of the qualities that I really enjoy about the romance genre:

  1. Banter that is playful, sassy, saucy, and just downright hilarious
  2. The whole enemies-to-lovers romance trope
  3. Characters with hard outer shells who slowly let the love interest in and open up
  4. Heartfelt revelations and confessions
  5. Steamy sexual tension
  6. Personal growth between the two main characters

Overall, it really was an enjoyable book to read, it was a perfect lighter read that’s helping me kill time while I wait for a couple anticipated releases to come out this year. Of course, people hype the heck out of this book to the point that it couldn’t POSSIBLY live up to the expectations people put on it, but luckily I didn’t put it on a pedestal like I’m sure some readers have, and I found myself enjoying it more because of that. The characters were great even as they feel familiar to a lot of others in different books, and the dynamic of Lucy and Josh’s relationship and how it changed over the course of the story was done so well and was a major highlight.

Lucy is kind of like the ‘Jessica Day’ of the office (Zooey Deschanel’s character in New Girl for those who don’t know the reference), she’s very sweet, kind, a literal ray of sunshine around the office. Josh is literally her total opposite and her mortal enemy: he’s tightly-knit, uptight, organized to the point of being OCD because NOTHING can be out of place or no hair out of line for him. I loved learning their fears and insecurities as they grew closer and opened up, I can’t say enough how sweet and adorable this book gets sometimes.

With all the sweetness of cotton candy that is abundant in this story, there was also quite a bit of steam to add to it too! It wasn’t super graphic or descriptive to the point of calling it erotica, but what I can say is Joshua Templeman is something else….I really wanted a few chapters from his perspective, but I can also say that part of the experience of this book is NOT knowing what’s going on in his head too!

This book is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s like those early 2000’s chick flicks like Mean Girls, She’s The Man, and John Tucker Must Die and plenty of others that you hate to admit you love and keep watching over and over again, year after year. They’re not exactly Oscar worthy, but that doesn’t detract from how enjoyable they are and how many people love them, and that’s definitely how I feel this book was too.

What I Liked:

  1. The Hidden Depths of Joshua! Like a lot of the male characters in romance novels I’ve read over the years, Joshua Templeman was a little rough around the edges to say the least…sure, he’s handsome and obviously has confidence to spare when we first meet him in this book, but one thing I absolutely love is when the mask cracks and the hard edges fall away and you begin to see a softer, more vulnerable side of him. He may seem like a crude, arrogant a-hole at first, but just you wait until he starts to open up, and then get back to me on your thoughts on him.
  2. The Banter! I like sassy, saucy, and just straight up hilarious banter between two love interests, and I feel you get just exactly that in this book. Lucy and Josh have a really tumultuous relationship through the course of the story, and while their dynamic may change from workplace enemies to lovers, their teasing and bickering stays consistent and entertaining as well too.
  3. The Bonding Moments! I guess this kind of ties into the points I’ve already made, but the moments when Josh and Lucy are alone and talk and come to learn so much more about each other had to be my favorite scenes to read. They were so sweet, so genuine and I only wish I could’ve gotten into Josh’s head a couple times to see what was going on in his head, but Lucy as the narrator is just as good too!
  4. The Brunch Scene! When Lucy confronts Anthony about all his BS is just golden, like I dream of being able to take someone down a peg or two like she does in this moment, and in public in front of an audience too! It really showed how Lucy had grown over time too; gone was the too-sweet and kind girl who everyone could walk over, and here was a fierce lioness baring her teeth at someone who’s showing disrespect to someone she loves!

‘What are you imagining? Your expression is filthy.’

‘Strangling you. Bare hands.’ I can barely get the words out. I’m huskier than a phone-sex operator after a double shift.

‘So that’s your kink.’ His eyes are going dark.

‘Only where you’re concerned.’

Both his eyebrows ratchet up, and he opens his mouth as his eyes go completely black, but he does not seem to be able to say a word.

It is wonderful.

– Sally Thorne, “The Hating Game”

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. I Wish There Was More Pranks/Hijinks…For an enemies-to-lovers storyline, I was kinda hoping we’d see a little more of the “enemies” part of their relationship…I wanted more hijinks and more aggravation on both sides of Josh and Lucy’s relationship. I wanted safe for the workplace warfare! Not that I’m complaining, but I felt like the jump into the romance was too fast! I guess it makes sense once you finish the book and know what you know, but I always want “enemies-to-lovers” to go further than they usually go! She doesn’t have to have a knife up to his throat per say, but a few little staring contests and imitating each other’s sentences in that petulant voice like an annoying sibling…
  2. Would A Dual POV Have Been Better?…I like the romance novels that have you read from the minds of the two characters, and as I read this book I was wondering what Josh was thinking in so many cases of the story! I was disappointed we didn’t get into his mind in the story, but I can also say part of the experience that is reading this is knowing things through Lucy’s eyes, and learning things about herself and Josh and their relationship as she does too.


The Hating Game is a fun, entertaining, and light read that any fans of the romance genre can enjoy, at least in my personal opinion! It’s a perfect book to kill time with if your (im)patiently waiting for an anticipated release or just need a quick standalone story to change your pace with. Fans of Christina Lauren novels will especially like this book too.

Romance novels are hardly ever the perfect book, so of course there are things that some people just don’t really enjoy, but I feel like some of those readers maybe make the mistake of taking these books too seriously! I mean nothing against the romance genre, but you have to admit the A Song of Ice and Fire series is much heavier and more immersive reading in comparison. I think romance novels are just lighter and easier and don’t need to be taken as seriously as other titles and other genres, and I find I enjoy titles more when I remember that. And before anyone gets on me about it, that doesn’t mean I consider the romance genre “less” than others…

If you’re curious about this title, I say go for it! I really enjoyed it and would want to reread it down the road someday if the mood struck. Any harsh critiques made on this book that I’ve seen are about really particular things, like fat-shaming and knocking “nice guys”….While I see where those readers are coming from, it personally did not affect my reading experience and I didn’t put the book down because of it. To each its own though!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

New Adult, New Adult Romance, Romance

My Review: The Hookup (Midnight and Motor Oil #1): by Kristen Ashley

Publish Date: December 19th, 2017
Number of Pages: 358 Pages
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance

Total Star Rating: 3 Stars

The going will get tough, and you’ll stick. We’ll fight, and you’ll stick. Our world could rock, Eliza, and there’s one thing I’m certain about, you’ll stick.”

– Kristen Ashley, “The Hookup”

This was an alright book that was a nice change of pace from what I’ve been reading recently. Lately I’ve been trying to overstock on more Fantasy-genre titles, and I think I’ve burned myself out with it trying to memorize all the different names and places and magic systems, so I tend to switch over to the Romance-genre when it all becomes too much. Romance titles are usually lighter and easier to read through, but are also limited by way more consistent tropes and clichés that you see in so many other titles. It’s a balance you just have to accept, but sometimes just going into a new title with the acceptance of knowing they’ll be there is how you’ll really enjoy it more.

This title has been on my “To-Read” shelf on Goodreads for quite some time, but not because someone recommended it to me by someone or I’ve heard really good reviews of it. To be honest, I really liked the design of the cover and at the time I guess I was just in the mood for a small-town setting with two young and attractive people who meet and fall for each other. You’ve gotta admit that has a nice appeal to it! For me, it makes me think of those romantic country love songs that are so popular in the summer. Anyways, one day while I was extremely bored while working at the bookstore, I looked through our database that shows us if any of the other stores have a copy of whatever specific title you’re looking for, and wouldn’t you know it, one store out of state just happened to have a copy come in! Since I’d never seen a copy come into my location in the two years I’ve worked, so I thought why not? I get a 50% off discount anyways.

The Hookup is an alright book to enjoy if you’re like me and you’re looking for some easy, mostly lighthearted romantic beach read that has the small town aesthetics; it’s nothing too special or unique, but still enjoyable nonetheless. I gotta stop thinking I’m going to find the next most innovative, distinct romance title because I just think that in order to count as a romance title, it has to follow a somewhat strict set of guidelines, and that’s where I think the clichés and overly familiar tropes stems from. Just because you see something over and over again doesn’t mean it’s automatically bad, so long as the author makes something unique about it.

The romance was, of course, the main highlight of the story along with the exploration of what the two main characters struggled with in their pasts before they met and how those issues came between them. I really loved the message towards the end of the book where it tells you that while you may have been dealt a shitty hand at life at some point and that there’s no going back from it or receiving any closure for it, sometimes those things can also lead you to what could possibly be the best thing that happens to you. Life throws many curveballs at you, some bigger than others, but it’s always a nice reminder to really enjoy the sweeter moments too, especially when life takes a more tragic turn for the worse.

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

When the new girl in town, Eliza “Izzy” Forrester decides to hit the local drinking hole, she’s not ready to meet the town’s good, solid guy. She’s definitely not prepared to engage in her very first hookup with him.

Then Izzy wakes up the next morning in Johnny Gamble’s bed and good girl Izzy finds she likes being bad for Johnny.

Even so, Izzy feels Johnny holding her at arm’s length. But Johnny makes it clear he wants more and Izzy already knows she wants as much of hot-in-bed, sweet-out-of-it Johnny Gamble.

Floating on air thinking this is going somewhere, Izzy quickly learns why Johnny holds distant.

He’s in love with someone else. Someone who left him and did it leaving him broken. Whoever was up next would be runner up, second best. Knowing the stakes, Izzy will take what she can get from the gentleman that’s Johnny Gamble. And even knowing his heart might never mend, Johnny can’t seem to stay away from Izzy.

Until out of nowhere, his lost love comes back to town. He’s not going back, but Johnny still knows the right thing to do is let Izzy go.

And Izzy knew the stakes, so she makes it easy and slips through his fingers.

But that’s before Johnny realizes Eliza moved to town to escape danger that’s been swirling around her.

And that’s why Johnny decides to wade in.

That and the fact Eliza Forrester makes breakfast with a canary singing on her shoulder and fills out tight dresses in a way Johnny Gamble cannot get out of his head.

What I Liked:

  1. The Two Leads’ Inner Conflicts! Both Johnny and Izzy have some major baggage that threatens to keep them apart: Johnny was ditched three years prior by the love of his life and has been going through the motions ever since, and Izzy is secretly escaping from a psycho-ex. Add to the mix that both come from a childhood where one of their parents was gone, but for different reasons; one being more tragic than the other. I won’t spoil what I mean by that, but it certainly adds to the depth of what these characters have been through in the past, thus making you more emotionally invested that the two help each other and end up together because of it.
  2. The Love Story Between Johnny and Izzy! The story starts the morning after they hooked up for the first time, and from then on the main drive of the story is their relationship and how it changes over time as they get to know each other on a much deeper and intimate level than just FWB’s. It wasn’t insta-love, but there was definitely an immediate attraction from both of them, and I thought their romantic relationship developed rather organically and realistically

We’re allowed to want things and not only earn them and work for them and fight for them, but have someone maybe once in a while give them to us because they love us and they want us to have what we want.”

– Kristen Ashley, “The Hookup”

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Where’s the Conflict?… Hate to say it, but the blurb made it sound like there was going to be a lot more drama in this story than there actually was. Yeah, Johnny’s ex makes a surprise reappearance in town after running away three years ago, but that ended up being such a minor part of the whole story and Johnny was hardly even affected by it to be honest. Izzy was way more wigged out about it, but most of the story is just them and how their relationship strengthens, so this may feel like a slower read for most readers. There’s something that happens at the end to add some level of stress and worry, but it’s really quick and over with before you know it.
  2. Leads May be Too Perfect… There’s the cliché character turn named the “Mary Sue” where a character seems so perfect and hardly has any flaws that it’s almost annoying. That’s kind of the case with both Izzy and Johnny here. Izzy is like a straight up Disney Princess and has a plethora of pets that follow her around as she works from sunrise to sundown plus has other characteristics but too many times when you’re in Johnny’s head in his perspective chapters does he look at her and it literally seems like she’s the sun shining all up on everything she touches or stands by. There’s things about Johnny too, but overall it felt like the author put way too much emphasis on making sure her two main characters were absolutely morally and physically spotless despite both having difficult things from their pasts.
  3. Male Lead Gets Angry When She Tries to be Independent… This was a minor thing, but it felt odd whenever Johnny got annoyed at Izzy for doing something heavy lifting and absolutely insisted he always do it for her, like only he was allowed to do what he considered “man’s work.” While it’s sweet that he offers to clean out the barn, mow her large lawn and plenty of things tasks, it’s weird how much it irks him when she still tries to do it too. Like when she sets up a table she had to grab out of the shed, he tells her to watch an infant when he put it away, and there was no room for debate…I don’t know, something about that seemed off to me.
  4. Felt Very Little for the Minor Characters… There are plenty of side characters that also encompass the story and add to the relationship between Izzy and Johnny: there’s an elderly couple who are like Johnny’s parents with the wife being extra spunky and full of southern sass while the husband gives her a hard time but it’s obvious they’re very much still in love, there’s Izzy’s less-than-perfect sister who shows up with her baby unexpectedly and moves in, there’s also Johnny’s brother who shows up so late that I really felt very little for him…these characters just felt very cliché and didn’t really stick out to me; i’ve seen them in countless other romantic books/movies/tv shows before


Overall, I found The Hookup to be an overall light & easy book; a sweet, small-town romance that can be a comfort read for anyone who’s a fan of the romance genre. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking or obsession worthy, but it was still a joy to read and definitely checks all the marks of what readers are usually looking for when it comes to books like it: two lead characters who have emotional baggage they both need to sort through while helping each other and falling for each other at the same time, an ex who “unexpectedly” shows up and causes drama, an elderly couple with plenty of spunk to remind us all what a long lasting love can look like, side characters who may or may not end up together later on, and of course pets and a baby. The story was equal parts sweet & tender mixed with a little steam and spice with some well written smut for romance readers who like the more descriptive side of the material, but the scenes of heartfelt confessions and admissions will also pull your own heartstrings.

I feel like fans of authors like Colleen Hoover and Christina Lauren will really enjoy this book; they have a similar style of writing with quirky female leads who have some heavy baggage that really gives them some great depth and great character development.

While I did think the story was pretty decent and Johnny and Izzy are easy to get behind and support, I don’t find myself caring enough to read the second part of this series—or duology—just because the side characters didn’t draw me in nearly as much, and most likely the next part will somewhat be centered around a baby of a single mother and I’m sorry, but those kinds of stories don’t interest me.

2021 has been a weird year so far, and I’m also bummed to admit that I think I may be in my first ever major reading slump…books just aren’t hitting me like they used to lately, and it’s been like that for the last month. I just can’t seem to sit down and want to concentrate. So I regret to say that maybe I won’t be posting as many reviews as I normally do, but it could also just be that my seasonal depression is just really hitting me different with everything like COVID and whatever the latest scandal on the news is because the writing for my college story has been on hiatus too…I’m not happy about it, but I’m also trying not to beat myself up about it too much as well. We’ll have to wait and see, but I also have a new iPad and downloaded Procreate to get back into drawing too, so there’s hope!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

New Adult Romance, Romance

My Review: The Honey-Don’t List: by Christina Lauren

Publish Date: March 24th, 2020
Number of Pages: 320 Pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance, Chick-Lit

Total Star Rating: 3.25 Stars

First and foremost, I want to personally thank Gallery Books for sending me an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book in exchange for an honest review!

So with this book coming from the dynamic writing duo that make up the name “Christina Lauren,” I’ve come to notice their overall writing style has taken on a new vibe than what most of their readers, like me, have come to know and love: their books are starting to veer away from the romance specifically, and move more towards contemporary fiction/Chick-lit genres where the main story is about the female main character’s personal growth, but still have a romantic subplot occurring. Not necessarily a bad thing, just not my personal taste. I know I probably say this in every review I’ve done of their books, but I personally really enjoyed their Beautiful Bastard series that started off as a 50 Shades fan fiction! Those felt more fun, more comedic, and more scorching in terms of romance novels go.

This book helps their work get back on track based off the (mostly) negative feedback their previous book, Twice in A Blue Moon, had received. I can admit, even I was really disappointed with how that novel ended so I was a little worried with The Honey-Don’t List, but fortunately it was a good bounce-back for their other fans!

What It’s About:

This story is about a young woman named Carey Duncan: a small town girl who’s been working for a married couple, Melissa and Russell Tripp, when they’d opened a furniture/interior shop in her town. The three of them had gotten extremely close; Carey didn’t have the greatest home-life, so the Tripps had become her unofficial new family when they’d helped her out through the rough times. She’d formed a unique bond with them, and continued to work with them when they’d gotten discovered and got picked up for a Netflix-Original home-remodeling/self-help series.

Ten years later, things have dramatically changed, and the Tripps are no longer that humble, loving couple Carey had grown up with. Instead, they barely talk to each other, and have become Hollywood-obsessed egomaniacs behind the scenes. Carey never went to college, and she really needs the health coverage (as a type-1 Diabetic, I really feel for that), so she’s kind of trapped with the Tripps with her job as their assistant.

Then enters James McCann: a young engineer who was desperately looking for a new job after the last one didn’t turn out the way he’d hoped–the company disbanded after an embezzlement scandal broke out–and thinks he’s signed up for better/similar job with the Tripps, but also gets trapped into being Rusty’s assistant and babysitter/cockblock/errand boy. Unfortunately, he needs something to put on his resumé, so he’s stuck along with Carey.

The main story starts with the announcement of a book tour: a self-help/marriage book that was cowritten by the “loving” couple with a hit TV show, and both James and Carey get roped into going along in order to keep the Tripps from literally killing each other with a 2×4, and ruining everything they’d worked so hard for. The two assistants must make sure America still views them as happily-married, all the while maybe figure out what going on between them as they get closer along the tour.

What I Liked:

  1. It’s Very Funny! If anyone has read a Christina Lauren novel, you know you’re in for some actually pretty freakin’ hilarious antics to happen! Whether it’s the dialogue or the events that happen, the comedic timing of their books is something that had always made them stand out amongst the other romance titles that release!
  2. Carey’s Character Growth! She had an incredibly engaging backstory, and her development as the book goes on was for sure one of the biggest highlights! She was incredibly likeable and relatable; I’d want her to be my BFF!
  3. The Use of Articles/Social Media Posts To Help Tell The Story! Throughout the course of this story, you’re given an inside view of what exactly people think about the Tripps and their show “Home Sweet Home.” You see people’s Twitter Posts, articles written in People and other magazines, and with the couple going all “Hollywood Nightmare,” I thought it was fitting. I especially enjoyed when the marketing team thought they’d had everything under control, but check out that Twitter feed and see that yeah…they didn’t have anything actually under control.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. It’s Not So Romantic…Like I’d mentioned earlier, there didn’t seem to be as much focus on the actual romance of the story; it’d actually fallen back into a subplot. It was more about the growth of Carey’s character: to her putting up with the Tripp’s BS to standing up for herself and learning more about herself and what she wants to accomplish in her life, plus dealing with her growing feelings for James. James was a main character with the chapters broken up into focusing on his perspectives too, but his moments weren’t nearly as deep as Carey’s. The romance also just kind of popped out of nowhere: At the beginning, it totally seemed like they hardly liked each other, then after just one non-lethal conversation, they’re all of a sudden head-over-heels for each other, but not able to admit it? I felt like it could’ve happened smoother than that. One thing I did like was how it was James that fell hard first, because who doesn’t appreciate a story when the male is attracted first before the female?


A better story from the writer duo that was saved from disappointment from their last title, I think fans of their books will enjoy this book too. It isn’t the most exciting or most spectacular thing they’ve written, but still quite enjoyable!

They seem to be drifting away from scorching romance, and focusing more on contemporary, female empowering fiction with a lighter sprinkle of romance to add some flavor to the mix. Unfortunately for me, that may mean I might slowly like their books less and less as time goes by just because that’s just not my niche when it comes to what books I choose to read. We’ll see though!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell


My Review: Twice in a Blue Moon: by Christina Lauren

Publish Date: October 22nd, 2019
Number of Pages: 368 Pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Total Star Rating: 3 Stars

By now, anyone who knows me and my website also knows I am a huge fan of the writing duo that is Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. I have read just about every title they’ve thrown out: The whole Beautiful Bastard series, Love and Other Words, My Favorite Half Night Stand, and The Unhoneymooners. The BB series being my favorite of course, I’ve stuck around and have continued to read whatever they’ve released.

The usual of what I expect from these two lady authors made yet another appearance in this novel: fun and witty dialogue and banter, romance with such obvious chemistry, along with lighter moments with plenty of humor to juicy and angsty confessions of feelings revealed.

What seemed different from this title compared to their other recent novels was how the main characters were created. Tate Jones wasn’t as quirky and awkward as their other heroines, which is fine for me, but still had plenty of snark. It’s also a love story about second chances after a brutal betrayal that rocks their world.

Based on what I’ve seen in other reviews, the main critique was how they couldn’t find themselves getting behind the characters as much this time around. I personally disagree; the fact that the story is structured so differently is the reason I felt like these characters stood out more. I can agree that besides the two main characters who are love interests, the rest of the cast fall pretty flat and forgettable, which is a usual case with a contemporary romance title, especially a standalone.

Overall, I liked this book for the most part but didn’t love it; it what you usually expect from the authors, but nothing too mind blowing or amazing either. I wouldn’t say this book is dramatically better than their other books, but I can say it’s still going in a good direction and I continue to be a fan, I’m glad they were able to mix it up in terms of setup and overall backstory revolving around the characters.

What It’s About:

The story begins with you meeting the main protagonist, Tate Jones, as she travels with her grandmother to London, England. A small town girl from Northern California, Tate is absolutely in awe of the city filled with so much culture, so many sights, tastes, and smells to enjoy. The vacation of a lifetime becomes even more memorable when they’re unexpectedly joined by two farmers from Vermont: grandfather Luther and his adopted grandson, Sam.

Soon, both Sam and Tate are absolutely inseparable and they develop a special bond while meeting out in the grass every night to lie down and stare at the stars. It is there they both confide things they’d never admitted before to anyone else: their hopes, dreams, fears, and even family secrets. Sam admits he thinks Luther doesn’t have long and their trip may be his way of saying goodbye, and Tate reveals she’s actually the daughter of one of the most influential faces of Hollywood, something her and her family had always feared would someday get out.

What turned from the most amazing two weeks of her life quickly turns into a nightmare, as Tate finds herself betrayed and surrounded by hundreds of flashing lights, screaming voices; mobs of photographers and reporters swarm, and her life is changed forever…

Years later in the present day, Tate has become a well known successful actress who’s about to take part in the role of a lifetime that could really launch her career to be taken seriously; she’s even working side by side with her biological father! To make matters worse, guess who turns out to be the screenwriter of the film itself? I think you know where this goes…Tate has a lot riding against her on set, a lot is riding against her, and would she dare allow herself to forgive past mistakes and rekindle the spark that went up in flames so long ago?

What I Liked:

  1. Book Takes Place on a Film Set! Being a former film student and an overall fan of filmmaking in general, I was able to enjoy this aspect of the story where a lot of it involved them telling a story within a story. I especially loved the decision to have them write out parts like an actual script when Tate and the others acted out scenes they’d been filming in that moment, it made it more fun and showed they they were in film-mode and it was separated from everything else going on behind the scenes. It’s also another story that goes behind the scenes of Hollywood and how the rich and famous act behind the scenes. It was unusual how Tate and her father interact and how the demeanor changes from whether or not a camera is around to record it all.
  2. Dreams Come True…Just Not How We Expect It! By now, a lot of us can agree when I say that life likes to really show us it’s strange sense of humor. We have aspirations and dreams, and most of the time, it never goes the way we want it to. What we think we always wanted may not actually be what we need, but the point I’m trying to make in this is Sam’s personal goal of being a writer. It’s one of the secrets he’d revealed to Tate when they were kids in London, and without giving too much away, it’s revealed that there has been some tragedy behind him in his past. In having tragedy, he’s found a way to have it be a driving force to continue pursuing his passion, and it even becomes the central theme of the script he wrote for the movie within the story. It was a more heartwarming moment to discover the personal meaning behind the script Sam wrote when it’s revealed.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Poorly Paced Ending…So, by the time I’d gotten to the 50% mark of the book and took note of what exactly was going on in the story, I’d begun to feel a slight edge of panic and asked myself: How is this all going to tie together?… As I’d feared, the ending just left a lot up in the air and didn’t feel all that satisfying. There were issues that had not been resolved, in fact, one important issue had gotten to it’s breaking point and then you’re just left out in the cold as to how it’ll play out…Will Tate and Sam get their justice? –Of course they will, duh, it’s a romance and HEA’s are inevitable– But they seriously decide to end the book before we even witness it?…I have many questions, first one is HOW DARE YOU?
  2. Too Much Time Spent on the Past…This kind of goes with #1 in terms of criticizing poor pacing, but while I’d enjoyed the time in London over a decade prior to the current time in the book, after awhile, it’d felt like way too much time had been spent Tate and Sam when they were young kids falling in love. I get it, the first time someone falls in love is a pivotal moment, a right-of-passage in a way, but It felt like it’d dragged past a certain point, and could’ve been condensed in order for more events of the present to be able to shine more.
  3. Not Enough Romance?…There was a difference in narrative structure with this title compared to their other stories, and while there was definitely tension between Sam and Tate all those years later when they run into each other again, it still felt like there was a lacking of intensity with their unresolved feelings. Like, I didn’t really feel the heat between them until the book was completely done. The ending saves it, but it shouldn’t take until then to be able to really feel the spark between them. Maybe this was only because we only really hear from Tate’s point of view?


Another fun title contemporary romance title from Christina Lauren, it’s a novel that has pretty mixed reviews compared to other books they’ve written. Some people liked the change of pace this story presents, others did not. I’m personally on the latter, but think this story would’ve improved if they’d either shortened the first part of the story or added at least 50 more pages to the ending to make it more satisfying by tying up more loose ends with subplots.

I’m still waiting for them to strike gold and blow me away with one of their books and completely suck me in like their Beautiful Bastard Series did, but I have faith they will one day!

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell


My Review: The Unhoneymooners: by Christina Lauren

Publish Date: May 14th, 2019
Number of Pages: 400 Pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

I can treat this trip like an actual vacation on a tropical island. Yes, it’s with my nemesis, but still, I’ll take it.”

– Christina Lauren, “The Unhoneymooners”

The co-author duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings have come together to write another swoon-worthy, romantic comedy title that I think many readers will enjoy immensely!

I for one will always recommend their work towards anyone looking for a funny, romantic, witty, easy going beach read, but lately for me it seems like their books aren’t getting that extra oomph factor that I felt in their Beautiful Bastard series. I still enjoy their books, don’t get me wrong, but it just doesn’t seem like their standalone titles coming out now measure up as much to me.

This title is a great addition to anyone who likes the hate to love, enemies to lovers, fake relationships story tropes, and while it’s not the greatest story involving these kinds of storyline, it’s still a lot of fun to read!

What It’s About:

Olive Torres is a twin sister to Ami and while her sister is in better shape, always wins contests and giveaways, and is getting married to a gorgeous guy; basically Ami seems to have all the luck in the world…Olive does not. On the day of her sister’s wedding, Olive is forced to spend time with her arch-nemesis, Ethan Thomas, who is also the best man and older brother to the groom.

Like they always do, they bicker and get on each other’s nerves, but when disaster strikes and the whole wedding ends up getting violently ill at the reception (Yes, this includes the Bride and Groom), they have an unusual task before them…go on the honeymoon together!. Ami won the whole trip through entering her name countless times into a drawing, it’s non refundable and not able to be rescheduled, so with her luck seemingly about to change, Olive and Ethan unwillingly go to Maui together instead of the bride and groom.

They both expect the absolute worst to happen, and it definitely starts out pretty rough, but when more craziness ensues, and they have to pretend to be happy newlyweds in order to not tip off the other guests and the hotel staff, they just might discover that there might have been some hidden, unrequited feelings beneath all that anger and frustration…

What I Liked:

  1. It Takes Place in Minnesota! Being a native Minnesotan myself, I enjoyed the fact that this story took place in the Twin Cities whenever Olive and Ethan weren’t over in Maui. It gave me a little spark whenever Loring Park, Edina, Dinkytown and other known locations are mentioned because in my head, I’m like: “OMG, I’ve been there! I know exactly where they are! I live here!!” It’s also a little refreshing that it took place in places that are always used in books; like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or San Francisco. Switch it up on the locations and settings of contemporary books, authors!
  2. The Massage Table Scene! I’m just going to leave that there for you to ponder about, so read the book to find out more!
  3. The Boat-Bathroom Scene! Another iconic scene within the story like the one above, but for entirely different reasons! Basically, if anyone’s seen The Proposal with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, get back to me when you’ve read this bathroom scene!
  4. The Ongoing Theme of Luck! The idea of people being lucky or having luck on your side and how it affects your outlook on the world shows up quite a lot in this book. I personally related to Olive a lot on this level because like her, I constantly believe I am unlucky in all aspects of my life, and so I’m a Debbie Downer a lot of the time because I feel like the universe or fate or whatever is against me…um actually bitch, I prefer the term “Rita Realist.”
  5. The Family Dynamics! Olive comes from an extremely large Mexican-American family, and some of the scenes of how much they’re willing to do for each other, how far they go to take care of each other and show their love & support was pure fluff and so heartwarming, so adorable that it became one of the highlights of the book for me!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Really? They’re Each Other’s Worst Enemies?…What I mean about this is that at the beginning of the story, when Ethan and Olive are still in the “hater” phase of their story, it honestly didn’t feel like they actually hated each other all that much. Sure, they were usually annoyed at each other while both trying to rile each other up, but it felt like the back and forths between them could’ve gone further, or have been more dramatic and over the top. It felt more like they were just an old married couple who just had to say some comment on everything the other did, or it was just plain old foreplay and neither one really even realized it until they are trapped in a honeymoon suite in Maui together. The backstory of their rivalry also felt a little weak to me, to be honest. It didn’t feel like something that would cause such a tense relationship over the years, and then to have her completely forgive him right away when he screws up again…It just didn’t add up to me.


Christina Lauren continues to put out another story that is hilarious, fun, easy-going, and lighthearted rom-com of a book that fans of the romance genre will soak in like a 99 cent Mai Tai 😉

I recommend the title to anyone who wants to read a fake relationship, enemies to lovers story trope that has plenty of awkward, laugh inducing moments with a quirky, clumsy heroine and a cynical, aloof guy who turns out to be amazing with a huge heart of gold!

I still wanted a little more from the authors; this title is good, but still not their greatest in my opinion. I feel like they just need to stop playing it safe and really go somewhere, you know? Drive it home and really just go wilder with it. Despite my subtle disappointment, I did enjoy this book of theirs, and will continue to read their stories until my wish is granted!

Side note: If they ever make this into a movie, PLEASE cast Gina Rodriguez to play Olive and maybe someone like Sebastian Stan to play Ethan…I will accept nothing else!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell