Erotica, LGBT, Romance

My Review: Collide (Blackcreek #1): by Riley Hart

Publish Date: November 8th, 2013
Number of Pages: 286 Pages
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing
Genre(s): Romance, LGBT, Erotica

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

This wasn’t ending, and he didn’t know if it would ever end, and Coop didn’t know if he wanted to celebrate, cry, or destroy the whole fucking world.

– Riley Hart, “Collide”

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

At ten years old, Noah Jameson and Cooper Bradshaw collided mid-air when they dove for the same football. For three years, they were inseparable…until one day when Noah and his parents disappeared in the middle of the night.

Noah and Cooper never knew what happened to each other. Now, seventeen years later, after finding his boyfriend in bed with another man, Noah returns to Blackcreek looking for a fresh start. And damned if he doesn’t find his old friend grew up to be sexy as sin. Coop can’t believe Noah—the only person he trusted with the guilt over his parents’ death—is back. And gay… Or that Cooper himself suddenly wants another man in his bed for the first time.

There’s no denying the attraction and emotion between them, but can they overcome the ghosts of their pasts to have a future together?


This was a nice, short, lighter read to enjoy while I’m taking a small break from Fantasy; I don’t know why, but lately as I’m typing this review, I’m noticing that I only seem to be in the mood to read smutty romance novels. I have tons and tons of Fantasy-genre tales on my shelf, and on my desk, and on the floor near my bed, and on my dresser (basically my room is a giant pile of growing books that will hardly shrink anytime soon), but that doesn’t matter because I just want simpler, lighter, and just overall easier to read right now.

Back to this book, but it was a great addition to my growing collection of M/M romance titles.

It was far from perfect and actually there are quite a few things I wish could’ve been better about it, but it still fulfilled what I wanted out of it: it had some really good smutty sex scenes and also just an overall swoon-worthy romance between the two main characters, and even between two side characters too. It was cute, it was absolutely so funny with the banter, it was heartwarming, it was sexy and sizzling, and isn’t that all we really want in a romance novel?

It was the perfect distraction for Cooper to ignore the flood of…contentment… Hearing that their friendship had meant to Noah even a portion of what it had meant to Coop. Which, as a kid, had been everything.

– Riley Hart, “Collide”

What I Liked:

  1. The Smut! If you’re looking for a quick but super hot and smutty book to read, this is a great choice for you! The smut in this book is super well done and really hot content, especially with the whole dynamic of the two main characters with Noah and Cooper. Noah being openly gay for much longer has him kind of in the role of the “mentor” or teacher in a way with how he takes Cooper through the ropes of what they do and what he’s willing to try out as they explore their relationship. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. The Relationship Between Noah and Cooper! I really liked their dynamic for the most part in this story. I like romance stories with the tropes like “second chance,” “small town romance,” “keeping it a secret,” and “friends-to-lovers” and reading about how much these two guys care about each other and the moments where their friendship shine through are so soft and affectionate and heartwarming, which is also so cozy when in comparison to all the scorching hot sex scenes. I find it funny I’m saying this when I’m also a reader who usually doesn’t turn towards a specific story for its fluff versus steam.
  3. The Friends/Side Characters! Both Cooper and Noah have a friend on the side that really be there for them when they individually need it, and even better that they actually end up hooking up! Wes and Braden’s romance gets introduced in this story, but they’ll get the spotlight in the next installment which will be fun because I want to see more of their certain dynamic too!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. How Cooper Is Only Gay For Noah…So the whole “GFY” is an iffy one because sometimes I feel like it’s not the most realistic storyline, but I guess it depends on your own personal views of sexuality. It’s such a fluid subject nowadays, and their are so many different terms and identities that are out there now, and while I can say I support it all and hope anyone who’s questioning who they are has the courage and confidence and support to figure it out, I feel like the “gay for only this person” is a little questionable, or maybe it’s because it’s not explored far enough in this story. Before Cooper reunites with a returning Noah, he was sleeping around with women and never really questioned his sexuality (at least that’s the impression I got). Noah coming back into his life calls a lot into question, and just like that, Cooper is no longer the straight guy he’s always been known as. I also know that there’s no set time of when you are supposed to have this all figured out; some people discover their sexuality at a young age while some may not discover it until they’re 50 with a wife and kids….but the point I’m trying to make is that maybe I just feel like the shift was too quick and not a whole lot of it was explained or explored as much as I wanted it to be. Maybe the author didn’t want to make it that deep of a story at the time this was written, but I guess I was just hoping for more answers in this regard. Like I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the fact that a label isn’t put on a whole lot of him or their relationship was frustrating! I’m never one who needs to compartmentalize stuff like that, so I’m confused at myself about it too, like maybe I’m not as open minded about it all?
  2. The Homophobic Side Characters…With Cooper being a firefighter and sort of coming out of the closet in a sudden way, he deals with some homophobia with some of his fellow coworkers and even a little bit from his uncle. It’s not really an outright hatred of gay people, but it’s more these snide, rude comments and jokes they all make that any gay guy has heard in their life and has made it hard to come to terms with yourself if you yourself are questioning or in the closet. It brought back terrible memories of times in middle school and high school casually say the word “f*g,” or “that’s so gay…” as a way to instead say how something is stupid. I know there are still people who are honestly just against gay people and don’t accept it, but part of me always wishes we didn’t have to face this kind of rejection in fiction, like why can’t books with gay characters at the forefront just not deal with homophobia?
  3. WAY Too My Flashbacks…I’m never someone who’s a big fan of them to begin with, and this book had wayyyyyyyy to many as well. I get it, a lot of the story revolves around Noah and Cooper meeting as kids and how their friendship/relationship has blossomed from it all, but I feel like the amount of flashback scenes could’ve been reduced. I know the past is important to learn from in order to grow and move forward, but in this case I’m falling under the whole “the past is in the past and let’s leave it that way.”
  4. Grammar Issues…The book felt a little amateurish with all the many commas and just simple grammar issues that popped up throughout the book. I mean, I’m not perfect at it all the time either, but when you read a published book you just expect more and hold this sort of thing to a higher standard. You’d think the editors and multiple sets of eyes who look over these words before they’re sent to print would fix this sort of thing.


Overall, “Collide” by Riley Hart wasn’t as good as it could’ve been, but this was still an enjoyable story that’s a great consideration to anyone who loves M/M romance with plenty of fluff mixed with steam. It’s so great for fans of “second chance” romances or “friends-to-lovers,” or “gay only for you” type of stories. Noah and Cooper have quite the story here, and while it wasn’t exactly mindblowing, that hopefully doesn’t detract from when I say I still really enjoyed this book too, and plan to read on in this series with the two friends who hooked up in this book who also get the spotlight on them too!

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, New Adult Romance

My Review: Good Boy (WAGS #1): Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Publish Date: December 28th, 2016

Number of Pages: 282 Pages

Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Genre(s): Romance, New Adult Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

If you’ve been following my reviews as they release on my website, you should definitely know by now that if Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen write and publish a book together, I’m going to want to read it! They just create amazing work whenever a cover shares their names. In case no one has read anything by them yet, here’s a list of what their works usually include:

  1. College Hockey Players
  2. Sassy and/or Quirky Heroines
  3. Hilariously Witty Dialogue
  4. Equal Amounts of Fluff and Steam
  5. Running Jokes That Always Have a Humourous Conclusion
  6. Adorable Romance

There’s plenty more to add to that list, but that pretty much sums it up. They write such amazing New Adult (NA) Romance books; they have great storylines and relatable characters that go through daily struggles, who don’t don’t simply fit a typical stereotype, or are held back by past traumas that are realistic; I just wish I could learn how the two authors co-write their stories. They’re usually told through dual point of views with the two main characters who are love interests. Do they stick to one character each, or do they just share a single doc and tag each other in? I’d love to find out their method of how they get it done!

Before I go deeper into my thoughts about this story, I feel like I should mention that this book is actually the start of a spinoff series that branches off from the authors other duology that I loved: Him and Us. To be fair, this book is just as enjoyable if you haven’t read those before this, but you do meet both the main characters of Good Boy in these books first, and you do get some context into the relationship between Blake and Jess, so I guess I’ll leave it up to you whether or not you feel like you need to start from the very beginning!

To see my review of Him – Click HERE

To see my review of Us – Click HERE

Personally, I was RELIEVED that Blake was much more bearable in this book compared to Us… He’s still somewhat obnoxious and makes (somewhat) terrible nicknames and phrases, PLUS he kept interrupting sexy time between Wes and Jamie when they hadn’t seen each other in forever, so that rubbed me the wrong way…. no pun intended with that. Luckily, Blake grows on you and becomes much easier to deal with in this book if you weren’t a fan of him in the last book like I was.

As far as this story goes, expect all that you would if you HAVE read their books before with the content, but I don’t think this tale will be anyone’s favorite of these author’s works. It’s not to say this isn’t a good book—it is!—but there wasn’t really anything to make this stand out amongst the other titles of there’s. I think the humor is still there, but I can understand that it may be a bit reaching, and won’t be for everyone. I don’t want to say it’s slapstick humor—I’m sorry, I had to add that in here somewhere—but the humor does still have it’s moments.

I felt like both characters really did have relatable issues, both external and internal, that seemed like real-world issues just about anyone could have to deal with. You definitely also see the two love interests grow throughout the story as their relationship grows with them, and I also really liked their chemistry. There was a subtle hint in the Him duology of the two main characters here had something go down off-screen, or page I guess in this case, so I’m glad I caught that and I was right! I’m getting better at catching small things in every book I read now a days *humblebrag*

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life. Already the family screw-up, she can’t afford to fail. And nobody – absolutely nobody! – can learn of the colossal mistake she made with the best man during a weak moment last spring. It was wrong, and there will not be a repeat. Absolutely not. Even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs.

Blake Riley sees the wedding as fate’s gift to him. Jess is the maid of honor, and he’s the best man? Let the games begin. So what if he’s facing a little (fine, a lot) of resistance? He just needs to convince the stubborn blonde that he’s really a good boy with a bad rap. Luckily, every professional hockey player knows that you’ve got to make an effort if you want to score.

But Jess has more pressing issues to deal with than sexy-times with a giant man-child. Such as: Will the ceremony start on time, even though someone got grandma drunk? Does glitter ever belong at a wedding? And is it wrong to murder the best man?

Caution: May cause accidental aspiration of tea or coffee. Do not read in a public place where loud laughter is inappropriate. Contains hot but hilarious hockey players, puppy cuddling and a snarky pair of underwear. 

What I Liked:

  1. Even though It’s a Spinoff, It’s Still Enjoyable for New Readers! This story actually continues past the duology I mentioned above, and while there are some instances where there is some context drawn from them too, I say this book is still able to be read if you haven’t read those books! I definitely think you should read them because they’re amazing, but it’s not absolutely necessary for this book!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Blake Riley’s Cheesy Lines…While his charm took awhile to grow on me, and him and Jess together are amazing, he still has his weird nicknames that he makes up and catchphrases that he thinks are so hilarious and witty… They aren’t actually all that terrible, but I did find myself rolling my eyes quite a bit, and not in a good way at all…


Another greatly written NA Romance involving Hockey players from Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy; it has just about everything you’d love from anything written by them if you’ve gotten your hands on any of their other titles. While that is true, it’s honestly not their most memorable work, and nothing about it really stuck out to me like their other titles.

Fear not though… If this is what I consider to be their weakest book yet, that in no means makes this not something to check out, because it’s still a sweet, sexy romance that’s still probably a lot better than quite a few of the other titles out there.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell


My Review: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1): by Lyssa Kay Adams

Publish Date: November 5th, 2019
Number of Pages: 352 Pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.25 Stars

A second chance sports romance that is light hearted, and has an original concept that fans of the genre can really enjoy!

While a lot of other readers and reviewers can say they absolutely adored this title, I’m afraid I can’t necessarily join that group…The book wasn’t terrible by any means, believe me! There are plenty of great things to praise about this book, and I did enjoy it for what it was, especially with the more original concept for professional Baseball players getting together for a secret romance novel bookclub, but I can only say I just liked it and didn’t love it.

Normally I love sports romances! I grew up around sports pretty much my whole life, and have tried just about every single one at least once: Baseball, Hockey, Basketball, Soccer, and Football. I understand the dynamics of them, along with the brotherhood and camaraderie amongst the teammates as they compete for greatness. Even in this book, the athletes go against every stigma and stereotype of toxic masculinity as they read romance novels and help each other out with their relationships. The support they show each other is absolutely so genuine and heart-eyes, even though some of the dialogue is way off from a male perspective. Not that men can’t be sensitive and be in touch with their feelings, but you have to admit they talk about it differently than women do, and some of the dialogue that these grown men say about certain topics, even their take on toxic masculinity, is not realistic…sorry to say.

Besides that, this book has a lot of positive things to boast! The original concept of the book club, it’s a quick and easy read, there’s plenty of fluff and steam, and there’s plenty of likeable side-characters to get into!

Also, total side note: I got a real DJ and Stephanie Tanner vibe from Thea and her younger sister, Liv. By this, I do mean their sister dynamic from the Full House Netflix spinoff: Fuller House. It’s when they’re older and DJ has her kids while Stephanie is the cool aunt living in the basement while she’s trying to get back on her feet.

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

What I Liked:

  1. BOTH Spouses Needed to Work on their Marriage! One part of the story that I really enjoyed was how it’d turned out that both characters, Thea and Gavin, had issues they needed to work on if their marriage was to be fixed. I was worried about what the story would’ve been like if it’d continued being just about Gavin’s side of fixing their relationship, because this may shock some people: men aren’t the only ones who can ruin a relationship. Sure, Gavin didn’t handle it well when the issues had become too big to ignore any longer—which was a big part of the issues too—it’d become obvious that Thea wasn’t all that innocent either. Both needed to put in some more work, and I’m glad it became that way for the story, even though it’d felt like it was all about how only Gavin seemed to be doing anything to try and fix the problem for a lot of the book. I do wish Thea could’ve had her moments of growth earlier on in the book, as hers felt so rushed at the end.
  2. Crossover With A Novel Within The Novel! Like it’d mentioned in the blurb, there’s a regency romance mentioned quite a bit throughout the story. It has a similar theme to what Gavin is going through—hence why the book club chose it—and some chapters are actually excerpts from this book. If this book were a movie, I’d imagine Gavin and Thea also playing the characters in flashback-like scenes straight out of Courting The Countess.
  3. A More Original Idea for the Romance Genre! One shortcoming of the Romance genre in general is how it’s run on a lot of clichés. I mean that by character arcs and plots and how too many of them all have the same thing over and over. This book is a refreshing and new type of story for the “second chance” trope that I’m sure a lot of romance fans enjoy. I mean, I personally haven’t ever heard of any other story that has professional Baseball players forming a secret book club to read romance novels in order to help each other’s relationships. It’s a sweet idea, and novels like this one should be praised for their originality within the genre!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Too Cheesy in Some Areas! What I really mean by this is how all the professional athletes get a little too introspective during their meetings for the bookclub. Like, hear me out…I’m a gay male who’s been around quite a few different types of people, especially during my recent college years, but never have I heard any male of any orientation have conversations like the ones that happen in this book. Similar themes may have come up, but the way the guys spoke about certain topics like love, women, toxic masculinity, and relationships sounded a bit too far fetched for this male reader. Sure, women probably want men to sound like this when they get together for guys night and talk like the characters do, but it’s not usually the case, at least with how they did it. The tone was way off with how men actually speak, and you can tell a woman wrote them to sound like that, and not trying to start a sexism argument or anything here…but I HEAVILY rolled my eyes at some of the lines said, especially from the particular character, Braden Mack. He’s a smooth lady killer one moment that all the guys can’t stand, then next he’s the most introspective member of the whole group…I wasn’t sold.
  2. Thea Doesn’t Help Out! I mentioned this earlier, but also thought about saying it here too. Thea has her moments of growth in the story, but it happens so much later in the story—and is totally rushed—so she’s really unhelpful through almost 75% of the book. It’s learned how she’d faked orgasms with her husband, and just kept so many other issues bottled up, but got mad at Gavin when it seemed like he couldn’t read her mind. I personally get so annoyed when people do this—both men and woman—but holy freakin’ bitch-tits….COMMUNICATE! No one can know what the issue is if you don’t talk about it out loud and just leave it inside your own head. She doesn’t tell Gavin any of her issues, and gets upset at him for not immediately understanding her about a lot of it. She didn’t make things all that much easier when he actually starts putting in a lot of work to try and make things work for their marriage. I get the whole feminism thing and putting a masculine male in his place when it’s needed, but she was seriously just an unreasonable bitch at some points!
  3. Lack of Character Descriptions! This is a really small irksome critique for me, but there were almost no descriptions for any of the characters except for Gavin at the very beginning. I like to know the character’s skin tones, eye and hair colors, etc. and I got none of that in this book! Paint me a picture! Don’t leave it so wide open! Give me something to work with!!


Overall, I liked this book but didn’t love it. It had its moments, and was a cute, funny, heartwarming, cheesy and informative take on what it takes from both people to make a relationship work after it’s been getting worse and worse as the years go by. While giving readers everything they’d look for in a romance novel, but also provides some intelligent and valuable life lessons that just about anyone can grow from. It was an unexpected amount of depth for the story; almost coming of age.

The characters were all extremely likeable, especially Gavin Scott, and had you rooting for them all to have their happy endings, and since knowing this is the first in a series, provides some minor moments with others to hint at more to come later.

Some of the dialogue amongst the men and how they spoke about women, love, relationships was a little too far fetched and non-believable—this is coming from a male reader who’s gay too—that added a lot of the cheesiness to the story, but I don’t think everyone will be annoyed at that as much as I was.

I recommend this to anyone who likes “Second Chance” romance stories where the characters come back into each other’s lives and both work on what went wrong in the first place in order to make it work better the next time around. It’s an adorable story with a more original base with the book club, and I think lovers of contemporary romance will get a kick out of it!

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