Behold: my December reads! I managed to read six books for December, which is a feat in and of itself! Though I will say it’s more like fiveish since one was a novella, but it still counts! In the spirit of the holidays, i did manage to read some holiday themed books, which just added a little something special to the season.
The Christmas Fix by Lucy Score – First holiday themed book for the month! This book is similar to Lucy Score’s Knockmeout series in that it’s a slow burn, small town romance that stars a headstrong and independent FMC and a grumpy MMC that hates her before he even gets to know her. What appears to apparently be Lucy Score’s fave trope, enemies to lovers, this one is no different. Cat King, a home reno reality TV show host/star sets her eyes back on the town of Merry after it’s devastated by a natural disaster. She’s dead set on helping to bring the town back to its full glory in time for the holidays – despite the fact that the town manager, Noah is determined to stop her from turning his town and its citizens into a reality TV spectacle. They butt heads at every single opportunity until Noah realizes Cat is not the ditzy, fame obsessed TV star he thinks she is. There are a handful of sexy scenes, including the infamous dining room table scene that was honestly a tad bit underwhelming.
The Holly Dates by Brittainy Cherry – Another holiday themed read! Holly Jackson was having the worst luck in love after being left at the altar on Christmas Eve. A year later since that disaster and Holly is now scrambling to find a suitable date to take home for the holidays. After running into (literally) the very good looking but grumpy neighbor Kai, she ends up frequenting his restaurant a few blocks away and starts taking all her first dates there. In an attempt to get her to stop bringing her first dates to his restaurant so he won’t have to see her beautiful face or hear her cute laugh, Kai becomes her “dating coach” where his sole goal is to get Holly a second date with an eligible bachelor and out of his restaurant. In typical romance book fashion, shenanigans ensue where Holly and Kai get close and he quickly realizes that he wants to be one of Holly’s dates. While this book has the typical romance cliches, there are some twists and turns in the story that kept me thoroughly entertained. Sprinkle in a little bit of spice and you have a solid holiday romance pick.
The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan – The second installment of the All The King’s Men series, this is a continuation of The Kingmaker where we pick up right where it left off. Lennix is in danger and Maxim sets out to find her, not knowing that he was about to entangle himself in a dangerous web. The election is coming up and tensions arise putting his and Lennix’s relationship at risk. This book is more plot driven, seeing as how the character building was done in the first book, there’s more action and drama happening where Maxim and Lennix are now dealing with bouts of grief, betrayal, and a quest for power. I did like how this brought the story to a close, especially since I found Lennix and Maxim’s relationship annoying. They fought a lot and when they weren’t fighting, they were fucking. I also hated the nicknames they had for each other; it’s a minute thing but was still eyeroll inducing as I read it. That said, Kennedy Ryan is a powerhouse writer and this, like her other books, was well written where the plot developed naturally and the characters continued their growth following the first book.
Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland – I picked this up upon hearing the good buzz it’s been getting on Bookstagram, which I know should always be taken with a grain of salt, but I’m not one to turn down supporting a fellow Latina. This is a romance with a hit of magical realism, that Barnes and Noble classified as fantasy when I went to buy the book but I don’t think it’s an accurate shelving. Anyway, Sage Flores is back in her hometown of Cranberry, much to her chagrin, after losing her teaching job. She ends up moving back in with her aunt Nadia and her younger sister Teal. Sage’s relationship with her family is rocky at best after the death of her youngest sister, Sky. Now that Sage is back and unemployed, she needs a job and gets one back at Cranberry Rose Company, where she worked as a “plant whisperer” as a teen. As she starts her job with her sights set on saving up enough to get back out of Cranberry, she ends up needing to team up with her high school crush that did exactly that – crushed her young heart. I really enjoyed this story as it’s multidimensional and we get to see Sage pull away from this annoying victim mentality into something stronger. I also loved that there was a lot of Latinx representation, and the magical realism was like the cherry on top for the whole story.
It’s Been A Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian – This one was a random selection but I’m glad I picked it up as it’s a story of self-discovery for the FMC Noni Blake, who is in her 30s. It felt incredibly relatable that she embarked on this journey during a time where I am also doing something similar. Noni Blake is freshly out of a long term relationship and is essentially starting over. Dissatisfied with her life up until that point, she decides to embark on a journey of self discovery, partly influenced by who she thinks may have been ‘the one that got away.’ In her literal and figurative journey, Noni decides to change up her look and her style into things she’d never otherwise wear and feel confident and badass in. She’s also centering her journey on pleasure, in every sense of the word, which means she gets into some shenanigans with potential suitors along her journey. She eventually gets to a point of immense satisfaction and is forced to decide whether she wants to go back to her “old” life or figure out how to maintain this new one.
Same Time Next Year by Tessa Bailey – A timely read given the new year is around the corner. This one was free on Kindle Unlimited so it was a no brainer to pick up, especially since I’ve read a few of Bailey’s other books (link them here?). However, I will say this one fell incredibly flat for me. While I’m grateful it was a short novella, the plot and the characters just weren’t doing it for me. The story follows Britta, an ambitious waitress working at a bar called Sluggers, which is a regular hangout spot for the local hockey club. Her half brother is on the team and while she’s not keen on dating any of the players, she obviously has her eye on one – Sumner Mayfield. On New Year’s Eve, Britta’s half brother tells her Sumner may have to go back to Canada unless he marries a citizen for a green card – suggesting Britta marry Sumner in exchange for some cash. Despite her hesitancy, she does it and puts an expiration date of NYE the following year on the fake marriage. They obviously fall for each other before then and have the expected HEA.