Hello everyone! Today, I'm back with a new What I've Been Reading post. Here you'll find my mini-reviews for all the romance novels I've been reading. There are a few since I've been leaning toward them on the regular. I've recently been addicted to mafia romance novels in particular. What can I say? I love a bad boy, or in this case a criminal murderer with a questionable moral compass. We all have our weaknesses I guess - mine being these books no matter how hard I try to resist their temptation.
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Title: The Sweetest Oblivion
Author: Danielle Lori
Description: She’s a romantic at heart, living in the most unromantic of worlds . . .
Nicknamed Sweet Abelli for her docile nature, Elena smiles on cue and has a charming response for everything. She’s the favored daughter, the perfect mafia principessa . . . or was.
Now, all she can see in the mirror’s reflection is blood staining her hands like crimson paint.
They say first impressions are everything . . .
In the murky waters of New York’s underworld, Elena’s sister is arranged to marry Nicolas Russo. A Made Man, a boss, a cheat—even measured against mafia standards. His reputation stretches far and wide and is darker than his black suits and ties. After his and Elena’s first encounter ends with an accidental glare on her part, she realizes he’s just as rude as he is handsome.
She doesn’t like the man or anything he stands for, though that doesn’t stop her heart from pattering like rain against glass when he’s near, nor the shiver that ghosts down her spine at the sound of his voice.
And he’s always near. Telling her what to do. Making her feel hotter than any future brother-in-law should. Elena may be the Sweet Abelli on the outside, but she’s beginning to learn she has a taste for the darkness, for rough hands, cigarettes, and whiskey-colored eyes. Having already escaped one scandal, however, she can hardly afford to be swept up in another.
Besides, even if he were hers, everyone knows you don’t fall in love with a Made Man . . . right?
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Trigger Warnings: Murder, Violence, Assault
Dare I say it...The Sweetest Oblivion is one of my new all-time favorite romance novels. It definitely charts at the top of my mafia list and I simply can't shake my belief that I enjoyed it far more than most. I think I knew the book was something special from the first page. It had that great story vibe from the gate that allured me into its clutches and never relinquished its hold. I noted at the time that I was already leaning toward a five-star rating in the beginning, which sometimes doesn't stick, but this one did.
I think often times when I discuss romance novels there's a heavy focus on the plot in my reviews. In the case of The Sweetest Oblivion, I have to remark on the outstanding writing. I sometimes, admittedly, give romance novels a minor pass on writing quality that I don't give other genres such as fantasy or mystery. I accept mildly subpar writing at times and proceed to give the romance book in question a good rating. Please refrain from judgment on me for this.
Thankfully, that was not the case for The Sweetest Oblivion. It was just a well-written book by any genre standards. It was easy to be swept away with the love story when it was written in such a fluid way that never distracted from what was happening on the page. If nothing else, I can certainly say it was one of the best-written romance books I've read.
Aside from my fawning over the writing, because damn it was good, I have to say that the book's romantic plot was awe-inspiring. It was gritty and rough at times but that only added to the realism of it. Not only were the couple, Elena and Nico, the pinnacle of morally grey characters, and actually likable which is another issue entirely, but they had chemistry even despite their warring personalities. The book constantly shifts and changes its objectives but throughout it manages to maintain that spark so necessary in a romance novel.
Author: Karla Sorensen
Description: If you've ever had a steamy one-night stand with a British football player and then find yourself pregnant with his baby, you know how Lia Ward feels.
To be fair, Lia didn't know who Jude McAllister was when they met.
Across the ocean for a semester studying for her master's program, all she knows is that she's a little lonely and he's very charming, even as they have an epically sexy argument about which type of football is superior.
In Jude's mind, shagging the feisty American girl is exactly what he needs. He’s been fighting the clock of his long-standing football career and the younger players primed to take his position. Proving that he can feel like his old self again—something he's been trying to do with everyone in his life—should be easier after blowing off steam with Lia.
But oh baby, when a plus sign pops up on Lia's pregnancy test, that 'one night' becomes a whole lot more.
Now Lia and Jude have to navigate their impossible-to-ignore chemistry, and prepare for the parenting game, something neither of them know how to play.
Rating: ★★★ (3/5)
Consider me a sucker for a surprise pregnancy romance book. I know it seems to be a pretty well-hated trope but I can never get enough of it in the genre. Is it because I'm never having kids? Maybe, since it lets me get a small shot of the experience, which is as much as I ever want. I think it's the same reason I love babysitting my nephews because I can have fun and enjoy my time but then send them back to their mother, or in this case back to kindle unlimited.
Ignoring the existential pondering of WHY I love this trope, let's move onto talking about the book that so predominantly features it, Floored by Karla Sorensen. The book is a pregnancy book through and through as the main plot-line. It begins with a casual hookup followed by two pink lines and all the chaos the ensues afterward. I found it to be a pretty solid read, even if it wasn't the best I've ever read. It was fun, heartwarming, and lovable which is everything you want when it comes to a book like this.
My favorite part of the book was the inclusion of the massive, loving family that the main character comes from. They may be across the pond for most of the story but you could feel their impact on her life and the concern they share amongst each other. I adore family dynamics in books, even sometimes find them preferable in certain cases, and Floored delivered for me. The book's greatness arose from the author's ability to write these genuine bonds like it was second nature.
Title: Filthy Hot
Author: Serena Akeroyd
Description: The second our eyes meet, I feel it.
The ticking clock.
It's only a matter of time before we come together.
Before the heat that arcs between us turns into a conflagration.
But he's a mobster. An O’Donnelly. His notoriety is legendary.
I'm a journalist. I expose men like him, which is how I built my reputation.
Manipulating the truth is how the Five Points forged their name. It's why he's one of NYC's most eligible bachelors, after all.
Whereas for me, the truth is my calling.
With my life on the line, will I risk it all once more to find safety in the arms of a filthy hot O’Donnelly?
Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
Trigger Warnings: Murder, Violence, Assault, Addiction, Drug Use
Have you noticed the continuing theme of mafia romances? I'm happy to share my opinions on the sources of this obsession.
I received a copy of Filthy Hot by Serena Akeroyd to read thanks to Give Me Books PR. It was described as a series of interconnecting standalones which I'm not averse to reading. In the romance genre which features a lot of these kinds of books, I frequently pick up a series in the middle or even later. I think that if an author does it right you don't feel like you're lacking anything when reading the books out of chronological order. Filthy Hot definitely has the basic reliance on its previous books but it's easy to get into the present of the story without focusing on the past.
The book was great almost from the first chapter. It starts off in an unusual place for a romance but I found that added to my enjoyment. The main characters' lives collide in even more strange occurrences that add an undercurrent of humor to the story. From there, it's seamless for the book to pick up and wind the reader through the journey the characters go through. It ended up being a really enjoyable read for me and I think others will feel the same.
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