September 2023 Wrap-Up

Here is what I read/posted/won/received/bought in September.

As always, let me know if you have read any of these books and (if you did) what you thought of them.

Books I Read:

Books I got from NetGalley:

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers:

Giveaway Winners

Books Reviewed:

A Cold Highland Wind by Tasha Alexander—review coming October 3rd (4 stars)

Guardians of Dawn: Zahara by S. Jae-Jones—review here (5 stars)

The Breakaway by Jennifer Weiner—review here (4 stars)

Death by a Thousand Sips by Gretchen Rue—review here (4 stars)

Have You Seen My Sister by Kirsty McKay—review here (3 stars)

Night of the Living Queers by Shelly Page—review here (4 stars)

A Dragon’s Dyne by Brett Salter—review here (4 stars)

The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord—review here (2 stars)

Seams Deadly by Maggie Bailey—review here (3 stars)

Fly with Me by Andie Burke—review here (4 stars)

In Darkness: The Werewolf by L. Diane Wolfe—review here (4 stars)

Scenes of the Crime by Jilly Gagnon—review here (3 stars)

Thank You for Sharing by Rachel Runya Katz—review here (4 stars)

The Sanctuary Motel by Alan Orloff—review coming October 24th, 2023 (4 stars)

Dreambound by Dan Frey—review here (4 stars)

Dream Shatter by Ann Hunter—review here (4 stars)

Dream Runner by Ann Hunter—review here (4 stars)

Sandymancer by David Edison—review here (3 stars)

The Golden Gate by Amy Chua—review here (4 stars)

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas by Vicki Delany—review here (4 stars)

Dream Watcher by Ann Hunter—review here (4 stars)

Dream Giver by Ann Hunter—review here (4 stars)

Dream Rising by Ann Hunter—review here (4 stars)

Reading Challenges:


2023 TBR Toppler (a book by a LGBTIA+ author)—One Last Stop

2023 Monthly Themes (August: A book set in Asia)—Diffusion

2023 Reading Challenge (a book in your least read genre)—They Called Us Enemy

2023 ABC Challenge (H)—Heartbreaker

Books I bought:

Falling to Centerpieces by Ellie Cahill

Grim’s Little Reaper by Raisa Greywood

Bowled Over Americano by Carolyn Arnold

The Devil I Don’t Know by L.K. Shaw

Marshal in Petticoats by Paty Jager

A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian

True Colors by Thea Harrison

Double Crossed by Ally Carter

Salt in the Wound by Sierra Simone

Show Me How to Love You by Jasmine Haynes

Revenge by Jasmine Haynes

Second Chance Ranch by Jenna Hendricks

Finding Love in Montana by Jenna Hendricks

The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker

A Little Wilder by Serena Bell

The Wolf and the Witch by Claire Delacroix

Flirting with the Playboy by Gia Stevens

In All My Wishes by Ciara Knight

Free Fall by Brad Thor

Epilogue II: A Bonus Chapter to Hidden Order by Brad Thor

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

The Witch Sisters by Alma Katsu

Lover’s Knot by Karen Chance

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Captive in the Dark by C.J. Roberts

Red at Night by Katie McGarry

Sleepover by Serena Bell


4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept

Date of publication: November 13th, 2018

Genre: Romance

Where you can find Sleepover: Amazon | Barnes, and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

A brand-new contemporary romance from the USA Today bestselling author of Head Over Heels.

The girl next door is the one that got away. He just doesn’t know it yet. . . .

Sawyer: After my wife died, I promised myself I’d never go through the pain of losing someone again. Now I keep my flings neat, tidy, and one-time-only. Besides, my son needs me more than ever. He’s miserable in our new town, so I’m pumped when he makes friends with the kid next door—until I recognize his mom from a one-night stand. Perky and upbeat, Elle Dunning is not my type for anything other than tearing up the sheets. So why do I keep letting myself get roped into game nights and get-togethers?

Elle: It so hasn’t been my year. That’s my first thought when I see my new next-door neighbor. I never would have hooked up with Sawyer Paulson if my husband hadn’t left me for his high-school sweetheart, but because our eight-year-old boys have become best friends, I’ve got to make nice with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Silent. Yet the more time we spend together, the more Sawyer opens up. We’ve both been hurt—badly. So it’s one thing to send the kids off to sleepaway camp together. It’s quite another to promise each other a lifetime of sleepovers. . . .

My review:

Elle is fresh from a divorce that she didn’t see coming. Still reeling and hurt, she decides that the best thing for her to do is to go to a bar and forget her problems. And oh boy, did she. She met Mr. Tall, Dark, and Silent at the bar. Before she knew it, they were having sex up against the outside of the bar. The best sex she has ever had. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Silent leaves right afterward. Fast forward a few months. Elle has gotten new neighbors. Elle is surprised to see that her new neighbor is Mr. Tall, Dark, and Silent and his 8-year-old son.

Sawyer is still grieving the death of his wife from cancer. Selling the business and the house that they built together, he moves into a rental to start over fresh. He has never forgotten the blonde that he picked up at the bar a few months back. The blonde that had sadness in her eyes. The blonde that gave him the best one-night stand he ever had. Sawyer is surprised to see the blonde from that night is his next door neighbor. Even more surprising is that she has an 8-year-old son that immediately bonds with his son. He is surprised that he wants Elle as much as he did that night in the bar. He soon finds out that Elle wants him as bad. But, they are both hesitant. A chance encounter with Elle’s ex-husband draws Elle and Sawyer together. They make a pact. No sex until the wedding. Can they both hold out for the wedding? And is there hope for a lasting relationship.

I am going to start this review talking about sex. Or the lack of it. Sleepover did something very rare for a contemporary romance novel. The author had the main characters (Sawyer and Elle) from having actual sex until almost the end of the book. Well, besides the hookup which happened several months earlier. Instead, they kissed, sexted or had oral sex. There was so much build up that when they actually had sex, it was amazing. Put it this way, I needed a fan and a cold shower when the book was over.

But, what I liked the most, is that the author had Sawyer and Elle build up a friendship. They might have started off as sex but they became friends. I loved seeing them bond over the boys and their different hurts. Loved it!!

The main plotline was Elle and Sawyer’s relationship. Even though the book was told in 1st person, I couldn’t tell what Sawyer felt for Elle for the longest time. I don’t even think he knew what he felt until Brooks pointed out the obvious. I knew everything that Elle felt for Sawyer. She wasn’t as hidden with her feelings…lol.

I loved the storyline with the boys. What they did for that transgender girl brought tears to my eyes. I also loved their friendship. Right from the get-go, they were inseparable.

The end of Sleepover was what I expected. It was a true HEA. I loved that Elle and Sawyer were able to talk about things and get things straight. What Sawyer wrote in that journal touched my heart. I was crying with Elle. Also, the end of the book made me smile. Loved how it came full circle!!

I gave Sleepover a 4-star rating. This was a cute book with a realistic romance. The plotlines were great. I loved how the author held off on the sex until the end of the book. The only thing I didn’t like was Elle’s ex. I thought he was a jerk (Mr. Yap perfectly described him….lol).

I would give Sleepover an Adult rating. There is explicit sex. There is language. There is mild violence. There are triggers. They would be divorce and death of a spouse. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Sleepover. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Sleepover.

All opinions stated in this review of Sleepover are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Have you read Sleepover?

Love it? 

Hate it?

Meh about it?

Let me know!!!

Head Over Heels by Serena Bell

Head Over Heels

3 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept

Date of publication: June 5th, 2018

Genre: Romance

Where you can find Head Over Heels: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

They thought they were wrong for each other. That was before she moved in. . . .

Chase: Take it from me, never hire your best friend to be your live-in nanny. Because it’s a lot easier to be friends with a woman who isn’t prancing around your house in yoga pants. As a newly full-time dad, I needed help fast. I knew she was good with kids. And I thought things between us were strictly platonic. Now, with Olivia Stratten crashing in my guest room and steaming up the bathroom with the scent of her shampoo, it’s getting harder and harder—no pun intended—to remember all the reasons we’re supposed to be incompatible.

Liv: When Chase Crayton asked me to watch his five-year-old daughter until he could find someone full-time, I was afraid we’d drive each other nuts. But with Chase’s job on the line, I couldn’t say no. What I didn’t anticipate was how combustible our chemistry would be in close quarters. Neither of us did. After all, we first met on a blind date, and by the end of it, we were laughing about how terrible we’d be as a couple. In the two years since, nothing ever happened between us, not even a kiss—not until last night. . . .

Head Over Heels is a standalone novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a satisfying happily ever after. 

My review:

I have read and reviewed books for Serena Bell before. She writes uncomplicated romance novels that resonate with her readers. Head Over Heels is not any different. This book was a quick read with a hot romance and memorable characters. But, for some reason, I didn’t get as into this book as I should have. It was because of the opposite attracts angle. I also couldn’t connect with Liv. Her commitment issues bothered me.

I liked that this book was a quick read. I have read a lot of books with heavier subjects, so to pick this one up and get lost in a romance was fantastic. I didn’t have to think too much when reading it. Again, another plus. That is also the main reason I read romances. Because they are usually lighter in subject and I don’t have to waste too much brain space on them.

The chemistry between Chase and Liv was hot. Which is why I was confused when it was made clear that they were incompatible. I mean, their chemistry was off the pages hot. I didn’t get it. Maybe it’s me (thinking that it is me….lol). Their sex scenes were on the same page too. Unbelievably hot. I got all flustered reading them. Like I have stated in other reviews, if my Kindle could have steamed up, it would have.

Like I mentioned above, the characters were memorable. Their backstories got to me. Chase being a manly outdoorsman with a 5-year old that he didn’t know about until almost a year after she was born. Liv, a nanny, being in foster care and having issues putting down roots because of that. The author did a great job of taking their backgrounds and creating characters that stood out in your minds.

Unfortunately, I could not connect with Liv. Her issues with commitment were awful and put a huge damper on her relationship with Chase. I started to get irritated with her when she couldn’t give Chase the commitment he wanted because they were different. It made me groan and think to myself “Should I skip to the ending. Because we know how it’s going to end“.

I did like Chase’s daughter. She reminded me of my 4-year-old. My 4-year-old doesn’t have a Frozen obsession, though. She has a Coco obsession. Her nightmares and meltdowns over her mother were heartbreaking. I wanted to cuddle her.

The end of Head Over Heels was cute. I loved that it ended well for everyone in the book.

What I liked about Head Over Heels:

A) Hot romance

B) Quick read

C) Memorable characters

What I disliked about Head Over Heels:

A) The opposites attract angle. Should have stayed with the besties become lovers

B) Liv. She had huge commitment issues and I couldn’t connect with her

C) Couldn’t get into the book

I would give Head Over Heels an Adult rating. There is explicit sex. There is language. There is no violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

There are no trigger warnings in Head Over Heels.

I am on the fence about rereading Head Over Heels. I am also on the fence about recommending it to friends and family. I would be open to reading other books by this author in the future.

I would live to thank Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Head Over Heels.

All opinions stated in Head Over Heels are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Do Over by Serena Bell

Do Over

3 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept

Date of Publication: January 30th, 2018

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Number of pages: 216

Where you can find Do Over: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Toe-curling? Check. Sheet-twisting? Check. But is that enough for a second chance?

Jack: I’m pretty much as tough as they come. But when a woman comes to me in tears, I’m jelly. Scratch that—when Maddie Adams comes to me in tears, I’m jelly. That’s how we ended up making our incredible son five years ago, and that’s why I practically beg her to move in with me when she’s in a tight spot. Of course, the last time I got the chance to be the hero, I let her down, but I’m not making the same mistake twice. This time, I’m going to be the man she deserves—and then I’m going to lay every ounce of sexy on her until she lets me back into her heart.

Maddie: Jack Parker is hot, and he knows it. What he’s not is a family man, something this single mom had to learn the hard way. Still, moving into his place until I get back on my feet makes all kinds of sense. He’s an old friend. He’s, ahem, the father of my child. And let’s face it, now that I’ve just been colossally dumped, we’ve got nowhere else to go. The truth is, I never could resist Jack. Living under the same roof puts dirty thoughts in my head. And when my brilliant plan backfires, my whole body is begging for a do-over. . . .

Do Over is a standalone novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a satisfying happily ever after. This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Trigger Warning: Child abuse

Continue reading “Do Over by Serena Bell”