The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

“We’d done everything together since we were ten years old. I couldn’t imagine life any other way. I’d never wanted to imagine life any other way.”

The Secret of You and Me is a sapphic adult romance that tackles some very serious topics and issues, all packed into a beautiful second-chance romance.

This story revolves around two women, Nora and Sophie, who fell in love when they were teenagers but couldn’t be together due to the prejudices in their small hometown in Texas. When Nora, after 18 years of being away, comes back into town for her father’s funeral, the old stories of what happened start to get unravelled and Nora and Sophie have to navigate being in each other’s lives again.

I will say that I have read less sapphic adult romances than I would like but the ones that I have read, were mostly more on the rom-com spectrum. And while I absolutely love getting a sapphic rom-com, this novel tackled some more serious topics and I very much appreciated that.

It is hard to really talk about the in-depth aspects of this novel without giving too much away, as I do think that this is the kind of novel that really works best if you go into it knowing as little as possible, especially because a lot of things that happened 18 years ago only get slowly revealed throughout the story.

“I didn’t realize until I saw you at Mel’s that you’ve held my heart in the palm of your hand all these years. Right now, I’m offering you my heart, Sophie. My soul. Can you promise me a future? ”

We get to read from both Nora’s and Sophie’s point of view in this novel, which works incredibly well and I found their voices to be easily distinguishable. While Nora and Sophie grew up in the same town, they end up having very different experiences, due to Nora leaving town, and so it was very interesting and important for this novel to feature both of their perspectives.

Sophie has known for a while that she is a lesbian but only really confronts this feeling when Nora returns to town. She is married to a man and they have a daughter, who she loves very much and is really the main reason that she is with her husband.
This was easily my favourite aspect of this novel and one that I thought was handled with incredible nuance and care. Seeing Sophie’s journey with her sexuality is powerful and so important to portray.

We see some flashbacks of her realizing that she is gay and that, while she can recognize her husband is an attractive man, she is not actually attracted to him, but that she still loves him and their daughter.
But only in the course of this novel does Sophie actually confront these feelings for the first time and talks about it and comes out to people too.

This novel manages to shine a light on the experiences that many lesbians go through. Being with men, questioning their feelings and attraction towards them and even going as far as marrying and having kids with them. And I love that this novel showed that there can be reasons why lesbians have sex with men that have nothing do with their attraction to them or enjoying or wanting it. It doesn’t make them any less gay if the reasons are something like protecting themselves (from being outed, for example) or compulsory heterosexuality.
Seeing a woman in her mid-30s come to terms with her sexuality and finally realizing that she has a right to truly be who she is and to live happily out as a lesbian, even with having been with a man for a long time, was so good to see.

Sophie is a recovering alcoholic and this is a topic that gets talked about a lot in this novel as well. We get flashbacks of how Sophie and her family realized that she has an alcohol addiction and decided to go to an AA meeting and her sponsor is a very present side-character in this story.

“My body was barraged with tiny explosions of desire and, deep down, I grieved for all the years this had been missing from my life, that Sophie had been missing. I wanted her as I’d never wanted before, and when our lips met, I fell into her.”

On the other hand, Nora has lead quite a different life. When she left her hometown, she joined the military and has PTSD due to it. Nora definitely talks about her life in the military and how it has shaped her.
And living in DC, she has lived a life as an openly bisexual woman. She is in an open relationship with a woman called Alima, who is a closeted Muslim lesbian, married to a man.

There was a paragraph where Nora talked about what identifying as bisexual means to her and I very much enjoyed the discussion on how this is a label that, while it has one general definition, still will mean something different to the people identifying with it.
I will say that in this conversation, Nora said that to her it means “enjoying connections with both genders” and I honestly never thought I would ever have to read the term “both genders” again. Genders outside the binary exist and even if this was a small part, it is very disappointing for a queer novel to not acknowledge that!

“It’s good to see being in the military didn’t turn you butch.” “Depends on your definition of butch. One definition, my personal favorite, is being able to kill a man with your bare hands. In that regard yes, the military turned me butch.””

The relationship dynamics in this novel are all complicated and messy and I think that it is very important to know that a lot of this novel has (grey-area) cheating. I know that this is an aspect that is an absolute no-go for a lot of people and so I definitely find it important to mention that this is a topic that is very present in this book.
But again, everything in this novel is handled with a lot of nuance and care and this not an element that is used as some sort of shock-factor. There is a lot of history between all the characters involved in this story.

In some ways I did think the ending was quite easily resolved. The book did a lot of good, unpacking all kinds of different things all throughout it, and the ending almost felt a little too convenient, ignoring a lot of the issues that are still present, especially considering the overall tone of the book.
That said, this didn’t hinder my enjoyment, as all sapphics deserve happy endings, especially when it is way too often taken away from us, as this story perfectly portrays. Plus, books that are marketed as Romance, especially if they are queer too, should always have Happily Ever Afters!

“Because I want to be with the woman I love, the only person I’ve ever loved. I want to feel your skin against mine, to be reminded how beautiful making love can be when you’re with someone who you want to absorb into your very being because the thought of ever being without them fills you with sense of despair so complete, so bottomless, that you’re sure you’ll never smile, or laugh, or feel whole again. ”

Now, while I loved this story so very much, I do want to point out that it is not ownvoices. The author does not identify anywhere on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum and in the acknowledgements the author talks about the love story between these women coming together as she wrote it, with no initial intention to make this a sapphic romance.

I read an interview with the author and it very much seems like the author is in one way acknowledging that the process of falling in love is not different just because of the genders involved, while also being very aware of the individual struggles that same-sex couples will go through. I am also glad to hear that the author will be donating 10% of her royalties to the It Gets Better Project.

While none of these things influenced my personal opinion or enjoyment of this book (and I had no idea prior to reading it), I do find it important to point all of this out, so that every reader going into it is aware of this.

I definitely wish that especially a storyline like Sophie’s would’ve been written by an ownvoices author but from what I have read, both as far as interviews and the book itself, the author took so much care in writing this story and I do think it is well done, to the point where I am truly in awe of how well this was written, considering it is none of the author’s own experience at all.
But at the end of the day, I wanna leave the decision to every reader themselves and that is why I thought it important to mention this.

“I pulled her to me and kissed her, pouring into her every bit of admiration I had for her generous heart, gratitude for her courage, and hope for our future. ”

Overall, this was a very intense reading experience for me and I think that the trigger warnings and general tough topics of this novel should not be underestimated. While this book made me very happy because of the representation and themes involved, it was also not an easy read.

But if you can handle the themes and topics, I absolutely recommend this story. It was really beautiful to read about these two women finding their way back to each other and finally getting the happy ending they deserve.
The Secret of You and Me is a novel that I will carry in my heart for a long time.

Trigger and Content Warnings for PTSD (after military service), loss of a loved one, homophobia (including physical violence due to it, mentions of/being threatened with conversion therapy and homosexuality being called a mental illness), biphobia (immediately challenged), alcohol abuse, cheating, racism, chronically ill loved one, sexual harassment.

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨

Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca

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ARC provided by Berkley Romance (thank you!)
Publication: September 22nd 2020 by Berkley

1.) Well Met ★★★★

Full disclosure: I do consider this author my friend, so there could be subconscious biases here, but this rating, this review, and these thoughts are honest and my own!

“It all started with a necklace.”

When I tell you that Ren Fest romances are maybe a kink of mine, I am being completely truthful. I grew up going to a renaissance faire in Michigan every summer for my whole life. It was always such a magical experience walking through the gate and feeling like I entered a completely new world, filled with magic and music and fae and I truly looked forward to it every summer! Now I’m much older, and I live in a very warm place, and you know… we have this whole pandemic going on, so Well Played was just the perfect romance escape for me.

The second book stars Stacey, who was the other tavern wench with Emily in book one! This book starts out at the end of the faire, and we quickly learn about Stacey’s friends with benefits situation she has going on with Dex, one of the brother in The Dueling Kilts band!

But with faire season coming to and end, and Dex and his band going to the next one, Stacey is thrust back into her life where she is a receptionist living in a studio apartment over her parents’ garage. After college, she had big dreams to move away from her childhood small town, and going to New York to pursue her passion for all things fashion, but her mother started having health complications and she felt like she was much more needed at home with her family.

Emily has a lot of exciting things going on after everything that happened in Well Met, and Stacey is helping her and her sister, April, plan many things! She is also taking part in both of their separate book clubs which are vastly different, and it just really warmed my heart, because we love a good bookstore setting too, am I right?

Stacey is very much feeling the pressure of society’s expectations because she is approaching her later twenties, and she is still very much single, and very much aware because of social media that her friends (who did move away form Willow Creek) are starting their lives and even their own families. So one night, after missing her summer fling a little too much, and maybe drinking a little too much wine as well, she writes to Dex via the band’s facebook DMs. And after waking up slightly mortified, she realizes that she received a very nice message back.

“A watched pot never boils, and a watched phone never… lights up with a text. Something like that.”

After this, we get to see Stacey live this year of her life corresponding with maybe the love of her life, while also prepping so much for the next summer’s Ren Fest! But as the dates go by, and the anticipations builds and builds, she starts questioning a lot of things. (Somewhat spoiler alert and warning: do not be like me, get too curious for your own good, and look at the cover of this book to see the dude’s hair color!)

That’s pretty much all I can say without giving anything else away! I will say that I didn’t like how Stacey had to do almost everything, even though she is valid, I just wish the love interest would have proven himself (and his sincerity with his mistakes) a lot more in every situation. Truly, Stacey was a bit too good for him, in my humble opinion. Also, I feel like at times Stacey would feel a bit dated, or not like she was twenty-seven. No one that age is #PSLs in 2020, I’m so sorry baby.

But if you’re looking for a cute romance, with some amazing settings, and some really swoon-worthy banter, then I really suggest picking this one up! Also, Stacey is plus-sized and talks about her body image and her journey with her confidence a lot and I really loved that as well. Also, this has a really great subplot about family expectations and how hard it can be to leave your family, especially when you feel like they need you! Yet, how it is also really important to chase your own dreams and live the life you want to live, regardless of how unconventional it may seem to others!

Overall, this was just such a fun read! And I truly believe Jen’s settings are a tier above. Also, the next book, Well Matched, is Mitch and April’s book and when I tell you the thought of them together makes me banshee scream with love, whew.

Trigger and Content Warnings: talk of loss of a loved one in the past (to cancer), talk of difficulty conceiving children in the past, talk of heart attacks in the past, a lot of talk and thoughts of body image, anxiety depiction, and catfishing.

4
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Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con #3) by Ashley Poston | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by Netgalley
Publication: August 4th, 2020 by Quirk Books

1.) Geekerella ⭐⭐⭐⭐
2.) The Princess and the Fangirl ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Every place his lips touch – my mouth, my nose, my cheek, my neck – lights up like a star in a constellation for us.”

Bookish & the Beast was a very fun and enjoyable installment in the Once Upon a Con series, that to me sadly couldn’t live up to its predecessors.

I truly loved both Geekerella and The Princess & the Fangirl a lot and feel very invested in the Starfield world and storyline. I think where this book mostly fell flat for me was the element of fandom and especially spending time at a convention that I love so much about the other two books.

While this definitely tried a little bit of a new take on bringing the Starfield universe into this series, by talking about the book series and partly taking place in a library with special Collector’s Editions, it just didn’t give me enough of an emotional connection to the Starfield universe itself that I became so very attached to. I immensely enjoyed some of the snippets that we would get at the beginning of chapters but sadly there were only so few of them.

“Most of the time, I try not to think about it, but sometimes grief comes in waves. It laps against the sandy beach of your soul, again and again, soft and rushing and impossible to escape. She’s gone, but I miss her. She no longer exists, but the words she loved still do.”

While I enjoyed the characters, the one character that stood out the most to me was probably the female main character’s dad. I just found none of the characters to be very interesting or compelling. I didn’t dislike reading from their perspective or about them but I felt like they just weren’t all that exciting to read about either.
And again, Poston definitely tried to offer us a different take to the books before too, by introducing Vance, who is an actor for the Starfield series but currently taking a break from Hollywood. And while his character and journey was very different than anything we had seen before in this series, I just can’t say I found his journey to be very believable OR captivating. I just simply didn’t care. And the same goes for the female main character too. I feel like she put such emphasis on not just being “the girl with the dead mom” that she did end up being exactly that because I can’t point out many traits about her.

Again, none of these characters were dislikeable or not pleasant to read about, I just found them almost replaceable.
As for representation, both main characters read as queer (stating multiple gender attraction) but they don’t ever use labels. There is a non-binary side character that uses they/them pronouns and queer (one who is definitely bi) side characters. It seems like there is a Latinx side character too.. but that was never explicitly stated.

Just as the characters didn’t really stand out to me, the romance very much did not either and this was another really disappointing aspect for me with how much I squealed for the previous romances. Not only did I not really think the hate-to-love trope was well done but I also just found their entire development not very convincing just because I feel like we got too little of it. I barely felt chemistry, barely felt like they truly got to know about each other. We know they spend a lot of time with each other but I feel like we just didn’t really get to see that at all. Where was this entire process? There just wasn’t enough there for me personally.

When it comes to the retelling element of Beauty & the Beast, you could definitely see the elements but they didn’t stand out immensely. Some people might enjoy that, others not so much. As someone who is not a big fan of Beauty & the Beast I can’t say if that maybe affected my enjoyment of this story too? I normally never pick up retellings of the story cause I am just not interested in them or the original story but for me this was different, as I already felt invested in this universe.

At the end of the day I just don’t really think it worked all that well as the basis for a fluffy Contemporary story like this. But I also know that this was really the project of Poston’s heart and that does make me happy to know.

“With him, a little of her heart leaves, but it leaves room, too. For new people. For new loves. For new impossibilities.”

So all in all, while I enjoyed reading another installment in this series, it also just didn’t have the same magic as the other two for me personally. Nothing about this book set it apart from any other YA Contemporary, sadly, and that was a very different experience for me with the first two books. If you’re a fan of the series, it’s a fun reading experience, especially with other character’s cameos too, but it is really not a must-read at all.

3

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨

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Runaway Girl (Girl, #2) by Tessa Bailey

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1.) Getaway Girl ★★★★

“This is it. This is the kiss I’ll think about for decades to come, maybe longer. I can feel it ruining me with every mash of his lips against mine…”

After me and my friends completely fell in love with Tessa Bailey’s dirty talk, we devoured Getaway Girl in a day and we knew we had to finish off this duology together. These stories are about the aftermath of what happens when a wedding gets called off. In Getaway Girl, we follow the would have been groom, but in Runaway Girl we follow the girl who left him at the altar and fled to start a brand new life in Florida.

Naomi – A woman who has had her life predetermined for her for as long as she can remember. From finishing schools, to the pageant scene, Naomi hasn’t ever been able to do what she wants, only what is expected from her. That is, until she runs away from her wedding at the start of Getaway Girl.

Jason – A man who is trying his best to take care of his little sister, after his parents bailed on them both because of grief. He is also a Special Forces diver, trying to live with his own PTSD from the military.

Birdie – The girl getting coached by Naomi to enter the pageant scene, while also dealing and living with the loss of her sister, and also the star of Halfway Girl! Also, she is diabetic, and I really loved seeing that rep in this story.

And these three characters are intertwined when Birdie needs someone to help her win a pageant and get some closure after losing her twin, who really wanted to win a pageant, and she thinks that she needs the help of Naomi to do! So, this story is all about Naomi’s two months in Florida, and everything that unfolds while the events of Getaway Girl were also taking place.

I just really loved Naomi and I loved seeing her want to live her life for herself and not her family or society’s expectations. I loved watching her come into her own power, with her sex life and her everyday life. And I also really loved how there was no shaming of pageants or making her feel lesser because of her looks or things that brought her joy. I was so scared that it was going to be a storyline, but it wasn’t, it was just accepted and embraced, and I loved it completely.

And if you have been on this wild journey with me and my friends, you will know that we are all literally obsessed with Tessa Bailey’s sex scenes, and Runaway Girl is no different, they are truly unparalleled. They are very dirty and very explicit, so use caution because I know that isn’t for everyone, and that’s valid. But if you do want to venture into something a little steamier, than I can’t recommend Tessa, and everything she’s written, any stronger.

“Understand I want to drink it out of your belly button. Want to warm it on that perfect skin, sip it into my mouth, then let it drip out all over your pussy.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this one, and Tessa Bailey is the queen of dirty talk, without question, but I just didn’t love the end of this one. It’s a trope that a lot of readers don’t like, and I think many people who read my reviews won’t like it either, so use caution! I also didn’t love Jason completely, even if I did love his mouth, just because I’m not the biggest fan of military men, because my dad is a Marine, but we aren’t going to go there and even think about that right now. But I truly did loved the majority of this book, and I can’t wait to read everything by Tessa Bailey.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: talk of loss of a loved one, grief depiction, PTSD depiction, and depression.

Buddy read with Paloma, Chelsea, Jane, & Madalyn! ❤

I read this for SummerAThon! ❤

Getaway Girl (Girl, #1) by Tessa Bailey

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“When I woke up this morning, I didn’t plan on crashing a wedding…”

Hello, my name is Melanie and I am officially obsessed with Tessa Bailey, her characters, and her writing. Me and my friends all recently fell head over heels in love with Fix Her Up , so we knew that we had to continue on and read something else by her! And Getaway Girl was the perfect next pick!

Addison – Left town five years ago and hasn’t looked back, but recently has because of the passing of her grandmother, who also left her home and business to Addison. She is trying to figure out what to do next, but thought it would be okay to sneak into her estranged cousin’s wedding.

Elijah – Has a very powerful family, served three tours overseas with the army, and is soon going to take his fathers place as Mayor. He is rich, and powerful, and ungodly attractive, but that doesn’t mean anything when he is stood up at the altar on this wedding day.

Obviously, Elijah is very much in the spotlight because of his family and his upcoming election, but he escapes the disaster of a wedding in Addison’s car, while she promises him that he can lay low in her not very ordinary apartment. (Friend, you all have no idea how appealing it is to me to picture Addison living in a constantly wintery/Christmas wonderland. I loved this aspect of the book so very much, and I honestly would totally decorate my home for an all year holiday, too.) And both of them truly strike up such a beautiful friendship, that I was swooning instantly. This is like the best friends to lovers in the world.

But we get to see Addison, who is hiding from her family’s past, and Elijah, who is willing to do anything to not put Addison in the spotlight after she saved him that embarrassing day, while they come together and figure out if they want to stay best friends or become something more. All while also trying to figure out if the woman that ran away on her wedding day will ever come back into town, especially if she figures out that her ex-fiancé is maybe being naughty with her cousin who is banished from the family.

“This is what it’s like to have a man obsessed with you. Do you like it?”

Okay, let’s talk about the sex in this book. In Fix Her Up , the male love interest is the dirty talker, while the girl was innocent but very reciprocative, but in Getaway Girl, Addison truly gives Elijah a run for his money. Her mouth is so beautifully filthy, and the things that she did with it will truly keep me up at night in the best way possible. This author is truly not afraid to go there, and me and my dirty friends very much appreciate it. From the one-liners, the one-pagers, the entire book, it was all so sexy and I truly think Tessa Bailey is just on another tier in the romance genre right now.

“You own this city now, Mr. Mayor. Right now, that includes what’s under my dress.”

Yet, it was also so damn romantic. And I loved seeing both of these characters carve out the future that they truly want, instead of letting their pasts control them. And I honestly think I could read ten more books starring these two, and I wouldn’t get bored or be completely satisfied.

The only thing that I’ve come to realize with Tessa Bailey is that she writes very abrupt endings. I think going forward this is something that I’m just going to prepare myself for, but this ending in particular felt so quick and I was left feeling not 100% satisfied. Even though I still completely recommend this story with 100% of my heart.

Overall, I really loved this book. From the characters, to the setting, to the atmosphere, to the mind-explosive sex scenes, it was so damn good. Again, I just recommend you all to pick up something by Tessa Bailey if you’re looking for some sexy reading in your life. Also, me and my friends have no chill and we already read Runaway Girl, which is book two in this duology!

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Content and Trigger Warnings: talk of loss of a loved one, talk of infidelity in the past (not the main characters), and abandonment.

Buddy read with Paloma, Chelsea, Jane, & Madalyn! ❤

The Major’s Welcome Home by Tessa Bailey

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“I’m welcoming you home, Major”

It breaks my heart to say this, but this was easily my least favorite Tessa Bailey story so far! I will say that I don’t really like military love interests, or love interests that are as possessive as the one in this story, and I especially don’t like it when they like to be called daddy. Full disclosure and all that; my dad is a Marine and I just can’t, friends, I just can’t. So, I think many people will enjoy this story more than I did, but I really need to just stop trying to make military romances work for me.

Beck – Army Major Mastermind, who is currently dealing with the loss of a friend, and is finally back on US soil after many years away, and plans to stay back home.

Kenna – Daughter of a Lieutenant General, who has put the fear of God into any Army soldier who would touch his daughter, but he has asked her to pick up Beck from the airport. And after she makes some gross jokes about how he probably likes videogames; she realizes that he’s a total hottie and she would be honored to make him a sandwich and maybe welcome him home any way he would like.

You all see where this is going. Beck doesn’t realize who Kenna’s family is right away, but once he does, he is already head over heels for her. And he hasn’t thought of the woman who wrote him a dear john letter a year ago, who he thought he would spend the rest of his life with. Oh, also, Beck is a virgin and has never done anything sexual with anyone before.

I will say that I did like that the guy in this story was a virgin, and I really liked it at the start when he would desperately beg for any contact, but I didn’t love the sex scenes in this book. Now, this might be again because of what I said in the first paragraph with military guys, and daddy kinks, but I also just thought that Beck was too possessive. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good possessive lover, but he was too much, even for my submissive ass. Also, he is very southern and, if you’ve watched a certain booktube video of mine, I don’t really like cow-people/farmers/southern gentlemen/whatever love interests either, and Beck is very much that.

Plus, the sex locations and positions in this were kind of questionable, too. Again, you do whatever is safe and makes you feel good, but her just like going to town while he was walking around the gym? Baby, what are you doing? And right after messing around in a pool? Girl, no. And did you all clean up the gym/therapy equipment after you were humping away? Probably not. Yikes. Also, his first time on an armchair? I don’t know, and I’m not here to ever sex shame, but some questionable choices were made, that’s all I’m saying. Especially when so many other of Tessa’s books have 11/10 sex scenes (and positions and locations) in them!

But we get to see both characters realize that things that happened to them in the past were not their fault, and that they are both deserving of happiness. Sometimes life can just be cruel, whether that means shitty parents, or shitty heartbreak over losing someone you love. And I really did like the dynamic of him being the innocent one, while she was a “bad girl” at the start of this book.

Overall, this one just didn’t work for me. Basically, I would 100% smash Kenna, and 100% pass on Beck, so it left me in a weird reading headspace. Especially when this story started to really take a stereotypical alpha male “omg, I must give you my seed and have all the babies” turn. Again, it makes me sad, because I love Tessa Bailey’s other stuff so much! But this one just really missed the mark for me in so many different ways.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: talk of loss of a loved one, talk of war themes, use of the slur g*psy, talk of heart attacks, and abandonment.

Buddy read with Paloma, Chelsea, Jane, Joce, Emily, & Madalyn! ❤

I read this for SummerAThon! ❤

Fix Her Up (Hot and Hammered #1) by Tessa Bailey

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“Dammit, Georgie. You had to be exactly what I need, didn’t you?”

Best romance of 2019? Probably. Holy shit, friends, Fix Her Up blew me and every expectation I had out of the water. I will say, don’t let the *cute* cover fool you, this book has many explicit sex scenes, but it was some of the best sex, and best dirty talk, I’ve ever read in my entire life. BRB, buying everything Tessa Bailey has ever written.

But this is a story about two people who grew up in the same small town together. But when one comes back five years later, they both realize that maybe they can build a happier future with help from the other one.

Georgette Castle – 23, An actual clown for children’s birthday parties, and the baby of her family, and they always let her know it by never taking her seriously, no matter what she does.

Travis Ford – 28, Newly retired professional baseball player, because of an injury. But now he is very much struggling to be more than just a baseball player, especially after moving back to his hometown.

Both Georgie and Travis want to be taken more seriously, and they want to be more than the expectations that are already placed upon them. So they strike up a friendship agreement, that starts off with a few meals, some cleaning, and a fireplace, but eventually becomes a full on fake-dating element so they can change what people think of them. Travis wants desperately to look more wholesome to the press so that he can get a job he wants, and Georgie wants people to see her as more than a innocent comic-relief.

And obviously sex has to be completely off-limits, especially since Georgie is a virgin. Which is something that they both start to find difficult, yet Travis starts to realize that he might not want to be a steppingstone for Georgie. Meanwhile, Georgie knows that she wants things in life that Travis doesn’t want to give her. And, Lord, the angst is real, but it’s perfect, and I was living my best life watching these two also figure out how to deal with their attraction.

Also, another reason this book means a lot to me is because of the story as to why I picked it up. Basically, me and three of my best friends have a group chat that we constantly talk in throughout the day, and Chelsea set that group chat on fire describing the first sexual encounter in this book. So immediately, me, and Jane, and Madalyn all went and bought the audiobook. And we all listened together, updating swooning constantly, at our very different workplaces, and I will remember and cherish that experience forever. Fuck, my friends are the best, truly.

Overall, this book was just perfect in my eyes, and I completely expect it to make my best of 2019 list come December. The dirty talk was 11/10, the actual sex scenes were 11/10, and this was maybe the best fake dating setting I’ve ever read in my life. I am now obsessed with Tessa Bailey, and I feel so blessed that I am able to read her entire backlist now.

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Content and trigger warnings for abandonment and an emotionally abusive parent.

Buddy read with Chelsea, Jane, & Madalyn! ❤