Review: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: My Favorite Half-Night StandMy Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This was okay. Not great but not terrible. I enjoyed a once through reading, but never really connected with the heroine, and the hero was way too accommodating of her.

THE STORY: Millie Morris is one of the guys, the only woman hanging out with a group of male friends. But one night, she and her “best friend” Reid Campbell end up having sex. Millie doesn’t want to ruin her friendship so she insists that the two date. Along with their friends Millie and Reid sign up for an online dating service. But when Millie doesn’t like her profile, she decides to sign up for a new one under a different name and is surprised when she and Reid are matched. So while Millie and Reid are dancing around one another in real life, Millie’s alter ego and Reid are hitting it off online.

OPINION: This book was okay, but all the interesting parts in the blurb really felt like insignificant to the actual story. First, there is little with Millie’s interest in serial killers. She might have been interested in polar bears and it would have made no difference to the story. It’s only a tiny part of this book even though it was part of what peaked my interest in this book. Second, I didn’t find the online connection as compelling as I expected. There didn’t seem much to it and the two only communicated for a short period. I have read other stories with online dating and this one didn’t work as well.

I really loved Reid and honestly, I spent most of the book thinking that he was much too good for Millie. She didn’t feel closed up, she felt like a jerk for most of the book. Unfortunately, while that gets resolved, her dogged determination to not share even basic facts — her middle name? — with her “friends” made her seemed like she needs a whole lot of therapy rather than a relationship.

On the plus side, I really enjoyed the relationship between all the friends. That felt fun and lighthearted. I thought that the complications that arise as Millie and Reid’s relationship developed were funny and I enjoyed seeing the difficulties that arose. I also really liked the good parts of Millie and Reid’s relationship as the two moved from friends to lovers. Their interactions in real life made me smile.

Overall the book was okay, but not as good as I wanted it to be. Readers who just want a fun romcom would probably enjoy this more.

WORTH MENTIONING: I wish that the other friends hadn’t had their stories resolved, it might have been an interesting series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in helping to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

three-stars

Review: Beautiful

Review: BeautifulBeautiful (Beautiful Bastard, #5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #5
Published by Gallery Books on October 4, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: A satisfying conclusion to the Beautiful series with a new couple who made me laugh and smile. Jensen and Pippa are perfect together despite their differences but Jensen and Hanna definitely have similar work obsession problems!

THE STORY: Times are changing for the Beautiful crew with the addition of a number of children and a group have decided to take a wine tasting tour. Included is one of Ruby’s friends, Pippa and Hanna’s brother, Jensen. As the unmarried couple in the group, the two are naturally matched together. Both are recovering from failed relationships and the lure of a holiday romance is irresistible. But what happens when the holiday is over.

OPINION: This book is elevated by the appearances of the Beautiful crew. The story is good, but it doesn’t compare to the first three couples in the series. On the other hand, I enjoyed this story more than Niall and Ruby’s.

Pippa and Jensen made me laugh. The two are such opposites and it was wonderful to see how these two end up melding so well together. There was something really beautiful about how Pippa expects Jensen to be judgmental about her, but he truly falls for her for herself.

I also really liked the symmetry of this story (won’t give spoilers here). Even if the events are a bit unlikely, there was something in how it came together that made my heart warm.

What I didn’t like as much is how these two are a bit stupid with miscommunication, or more accurately, lack of communication. The troubles between Jensen and Pippa is all about not talking to one another. I’m not a person that hates that plot device, but the excuses here made me roll my eyes at times.

But ultimately, the strength of the connection between Jensen and Pippa made up for the plot device keeping them apart.

And the ending of this book was simply wonderful and a great treat for anyone who has followed the entire series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are appearances here from Bennett and Chloe, Max and Sara, Will and Hanna, and Niall and Ruby. I love the relationship between these characters and this book feels like a big homecoming for everyone.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL is the fifth and final book in the Beautiful series. The romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, but this book is filled with the other couples in the series and serves as a conclusion for the series so it is better after reading the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Beautiful Boss

Review: Beautiful BossBeautiful Boss (Beautiful Bastard, #4.5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #4.5
Published by Pocket Star on February 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 144
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved Will and Hanna, but Hanna really annoyed me in this story. Actually, I thought she was not thoughtful and treated Will pretty lousy by refusing to communicate with him even when he asked her again and again.

THE STORY: Will and Hanna are getting married, but Hanna is also interviewing for a variety of jobs. Flying around the country, Hanna and Will have important decisions to make but Hanna and Will are adjusting to making decisions together.

OPINION: I just wanted this story to be amazing and parts of it were. For fans of Will and Hanna there is much to like here. We get the run up to their wedding and then the aftermath. The two are working towards being a married couple which calls for some changes in their life.

But I really felt that all the issues here were on Hanna’s side. She seemed immature and annoying in not wanting to communicate with Will. I thought he was caring and tried to clue her in on how he needed her to communicate with him, but she kept blowing him off. He certainly was much nicer about the whole thing that I ever would be. And ultimately, I don’t know that I felt secure that these two were making decisions as a couple. It seemed more like Will said “I want you to be happy and will do what you want” and Hanna made her own decision and told Will about it.

I would have liked to see both of them discuss their concerns and the two come to a decision together. There were many parts here that I thoroughly enjoyed — especially the humor in the story and the Beautiful cast, but I was not happy with Hanna. I think she is better than this.

WORTH MENTIONING: We get a bit of Jensen’s backstory. He will be the hero of the BEAUTIFUL.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL BOSS is book 4.5 in the Beautiful series. This is an extension of the book BEAUTIFUL PLAYER and at least that book should be read first since this is a continuation of that couple’s story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Wicked Sexy Liar

Review: Wicked Sexy LiarWicked Sexy Liar (Wild Seasons, #4) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #4
Published by Gallery Books on February 2, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this story, but I ultimately needed more to accept Luke’s quick transformation. (I believed he would be faithful, but I needed as a reader more time to pass before this couple felt right to me).

THE STORY: London Hughes knows better than to get involved with the men who come into the bar where she works. But feeling knocked off her game, she decides “why not” and takes up the offer with the serious player Luke Sutter. But London is determined to keep it sex only. Luke, however, can’t stop thinking about this woman who breaks through his endless parade of women and makes him question himself.

OPINION: I liked a lot about this book, but the central part of the book which is Luke turning away from his years of having sex with numerous women and not having any relationships with them just didn’t work for me as well as I needed it to.

Luke was devastated by the end of his relationship with the girl he expected to always be with (Mia from SWEET FILTHY BOY). He has spent the years since keeping his distance from any serious relationship with a variety of women.

London is a woman who doesn’t trust the words of a man who can slip from one woman’s bed to another. But London also sees something more in Luke. And Luke begins to see something in himself as well.

There was so much that I liked about this book. London and Luke have a really good relationship and connection. I enjoyed seeing both London and Luke challenged in their personal viewpoints. Their relationship was smart and modern and funny and sexy hot.

My complaint is that Luke’s endless sexual partners are a big problem for London and is in fact the central issue in the story. As such, I needed something more dramatic in his transformation or more time to elapse to see his transformation. This was especially true for me because Luke violates one of my big romance no-nos. He has sex with another woman after he and London first start up their relationship. No, it’s not cheating, but it really bothered me. So, he needed to do something more to prove that he will be faithful to her. Maybe this book needed an longer view epilogue, but for whatever reason, I finished this book not yet convinced.

WORTH MENTIONING: My book included the short story A NOT-JOE NOT-SO-SHORT SHORT. I really, really liked this story and I wanted more. There was a sweetness and a reality to the story. Not-Joe takes a liking to Ansel’s ex, Perry. I could have read a whole book about these two and I had a thought that this would be a great start to a serial series about Not-Joe and Perry. A good addition.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED SEXY LIAR is the fourth book in the Wild Seasons series. The romance here is self-contained and thus can be read on its own. There are overlapping characters, however, and the relationships are more significant after reading all the books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Dark Wild Night

Review: Dark Wild NightDark Wild Night (Wild Seasons, #3) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #3
Published by Gallery Books on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 341
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of this series by far. I loved Lola and Oliver. Their friends to lovers story was complicated and emotional and difficult. These two are perfect for one another but have to find a way to be together.

THE STORY: Lola and Oliver are the final couple of the three that met and married impulsively in Las Vegas. But Lola and Oliver see themselves as the wise couple. Instead of engaging in sex, the two spent the evening walking Las Vegas and talking before their quickie divorce the next day. In the months since the two have become good friends. But there are deep undercurrents to their friendship as each is intensely attracted to the other but fear destroying their friendship by reaching for more.

OPINION: This is the first book that I really loved in this series. Lola and Oliver felt much more relatable to me. They are proud nerds, Oliver owns a comic book store and Lola writes graphic novels. Both have issues arising from parental abandonment when they were children. But each has a different sensitivity because of their past — and that causes complications.

Lola and Oliver have built a special friendship with one another. I loved their relationship which felt real and connected. When so often romance books concern couples meeting and falling in love in days, I really enjoyed this story where Lola and Oliver have an obvious rapport with one another. By the time their relationship becomes something more, there is a deep emotional significance. And that made the sex scenes hotter and more emotional.

I adored Oliver who is much more understanding and tolerant than many would be of Lola’s quirks, insecurities and naivete. I might have believed him too tolerant until he finally took a stand. I loved that he retains all his strength but loves Lola and wants her to be her best self as well. I also really love a hero with glasses.

Lola is the more difficult character in this book. She was sometimes hard for me to feel sympathy for, but I loved how this book unravels her fears and shows her development. Things are messy with her and imperfect and I enjoyed seeing how she grows as an individual.

I was really into these characters. I truly felt that these two had a basis for which to love one another. Their issues are many, but I think this is one couple I can see making it long term.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book sets up the couple for the next book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK WILD NIGHT is the third book in the Wild Seasons series. This story can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters and their relationships span the entirety of the series so far.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Beautiful Secret

Review: Beautiful SecretBeautiful Secret (Beautiful Bastard, #4) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #4
on April 14, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book was okay, but disappointing compared to the other books in this series. I quickly got annoyed by Ruby who seemed immature and annoying for pretty much all the book.

THE STORY: Ruby Miller has had a crush on Niall Stella for months. When she is sent to New York with Niall for work, Ruby worries that she will embarrass herself because she can’t think when Niall is near. But soon the two are flirting with one another. Niall is finding his feet after his divorce. He doesn’t know how to deal with women, but there is something about Ruby that brings Niall out of his shell. But time spent away from real life in London might not last when they return.

OPINION: I think this book would have benefited from giving this couple some time to live their relationship. Ruby comes across too aggressive emotionally toward Niall. If the roles had been reversed, he would be excoriated as being an alpha jerk. This is Ruby. She’s pushing a man who is just divorced from his wife of fifteen years and plays the victim when he doesn’t act as committed as her.  Just because she has been “stalking” him for months is no reason for her to not give him real time in their relationship. Parts of this book made me cringe because I kept thinking — just give the guy some time to breathe.

Despite this, I did enjoy this quieter man who has been keeping himself so under control for years finding his sexual groove. I also enjoyed the two different characters finding a middle ground for their lives together.

Niall was adorable in the prior novella where he was introduced, but I wish he was more adorable and less neurotic here. He is still recovering from his relationship with his ex-wife, the only woman he has ever loved or ever had a relationship with. He is tentative and unsure about how to move forward. This seemed a reasonable position to me.

I had mixed feelings about this story. I would greatly enjoy portions as the two got to know one another and then I would feel uncomfortable at points. I wanted to like this more and thus I was disappointed.

Things seemed to finally be getting better when the two returned to London and then we had the big problem and that was resolved in a few pages. I left this book not feeling confident about this couple.

WORTH MENTIONING: The heroine here, Ruby, was mentioned in a very, very minor way in DIRTY ROWDY THING.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL SECRET is the fourth book in the Beautiful series. This book can be read as a standalone although there are some overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Beautiful Beloved

Review: Beautiful BelovedBeautiful Beloved (Beautiful Bastard, #3.6) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #3.6
Published by Pocket Star on February 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 102
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Max and Sara are probably my favorite couple in the series, and I loved seeing them struggle after the birth of their daughter with how to deal with all the changes in their relationship. The book is funny and serious and sweet and hot, hot, hot.

THE STORY: After the birth of their beautiful beloved daughter, Max and Sara are trying to find the balance between parenthood and the sexy escapades that they have enjoyed as a couple. With help from their family and friends, they try to recapture the joys of being a couple while adapting to being a family of three.

OPINION: This is a continuation of Max and Sara’s relationship. Now that their daughter has been born, the two have to find a new balance between them. I loved that this story continues the tone of BEAUTIFUL STRANGER. This novella has humor and is super hot (if you were offended by the sexcapades of Max and Sara before, this novella is not any different). This is a definite read for fans of Max and Sara. As a parent, it also felt uncomfortably and amusingly real and immediate. Loved this one for fans of the Beautiful series.

WORTH  MENTIONING: This book also introduces Max’s brother Niall who is the hero of the next book in the series, BEAUTIFUL SECRET.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL BELOVED is book 3.6 of the Beautiful series. This is a followup on Max and Sara from BEAUTIFUL STRANGER. This novella is better knowing everything that has happened before in the series, but at least BEAUTIFUL STRANGER should be read first.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing

Review: Dirty Rowdy ThingDirty Rowdy Thing (Wild Seasons, #2) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #2
Published by Gallery Books on November 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Better than the first in the series, I really enjoyed how these two traveled in their relationship. Getting both characters points of view helped with understanding when they acted like jerks to one another. Fun and really hot.

THE STORY: Harlow Vega and Finn Roberts can’t get along except their hot sexual escapades. Married for less than a day in Vegas (after a drunken wedding and a quickie divorce), the two seem like oil and water and yet they keep circling back to one another. Both hard headed and fiercely independent, perhaps they are both too alike for their own good.

OPINION: This antagonistic relationship to something completely different was much better than the first book in the series to me. Perhaps because we get the thoughts of both characters, I understood them both even when they were pretty much jerks to one another.

Both characters are at crossroads in their lives and only slowly reveal themselves to one another. The sex in this book is definitely scorching and as the two draw closer, readers can see their fears of true intimacy. Their sexual encounters become more intimate emotionally and they both have fears.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DIRTY ROWDY THING is the second book in the Wild Seasons series. The book can be read as a standalone although the characters from this book appear in the prior book and the events where the two have a Vegas wedding are in the first book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Sweet Filthy Morning After

Review: Sweet Filthy Morning AfterSweet Filthy Morning After (Wild Seasons, #1.5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #1.5
Published by Simon Schuster Audio on October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Didn’t really add anything to the original book for me.

THE STORY: Ansel Guillaume wakes up after a one night stand to find out that he is married.

OPINION: This is not a complete story. It just tells the events of the beginning of SWEET FILTHY BOY from the point of view of the hero. We get some insight into Ansel’s thoughts the morning after. It is necessary, however, to read SWEET FILTHY BOY in order to find out what happens in the story.

This audiobook was okay although I didn’t care for listening to the story exclusively through the accent of the hero since the story is first person point of view. I didn’t think it added much to the original story (which was just okay for me anyway). If you loved the book, this might be a good add on. If you didn’t care for the book, you can skip this.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story is only available on audio at the time of this review.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SWEET FILTHY MORNING AFTER is book 1.5 in the Wild Seasons series. It is, however, the telling of the events in the beginning of SWEET FILTHY BOY from the perspective of the hero.

STAR RATING: I give this story 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not DatingJosh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on September 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Quirky and sweet contemporary romantic comedy. I read this one on a whim and ended up loving the story between two opposites. It was cute and fun and just perfect for a couple hour’s escape.

THE STORY: Hazel Bradford is a lot to handle. Chaos follows her everywhere, she doesn’t have a filter and she has a habit of doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. She met Josh Im in college when she vomited on him at a party. Ten years after college, the two meet again and Hazel is determined to be Josh’s best friend. After a bad breakup, Hazel convinces Josh to agree to go on a blind date with Hazel. Well, they would each set the other up with someone and they would double date.  The two have no interest in one another, but somehow their dates don’t work out and the attraction between Hazel and Josh keeps growing.

OPINION: Some books you just have to approach with an open mind and an open heart. Not that everyone would love this book if they did, but I know that I had to be open to this book to enjoy it.

Hazel is a lot to take in. She is a whirlwind — chaotic, intemperate, brash. But she also is completely open to loving other people. She cares deeply. The chaos and her inability to censor herself would be something that might annoy me greatly — until I saw how caring she is. She wants to love so much that she opens herself up and is hurt again and again. And yet she keeps caring for others. And that is what makes her who she is.

She is desperately aware that people are attracted to her, but that she becomes too much and people expect (or want) her eventually to tone down. But she doesn’t. Although Hazel is confident in herself, she also doesn’t believe that she has any chance with Josh.  She dubbed him “Perfect” as in the model for the perfect guy. Her caring for him makes her want to be close to him, but because she doesn’t believe he can be for her, she instead wants to be his best friend.

Hazel and Josh begin a friendship that is funny and sweet at the same time. She brings color and imperfection into his life. Josh brings some order into Hazel’s. Josh, however, is always completely accepting of Hazel. He may not understand how her mind works, but he doesn’t criticize her or try to make her into someone else. Hazel is a force of nature and Josh is the calm in the storm.

The two end up on a series of terrible dates (with other people) which end up being an odd courtship between them. I loved the humor and the pure acceptance between these two.

This is the first Christina Lauren book I’ve actually read. I have a bunch on my TBR list and own a bunch, but I have always set those aside to read something else. Why did I decide on this one? Because the hero is Korean American. I thought the interracial romance was handled well.

My only complaint about the story was the ending and the epilogue. I’m not a fan of leaving obvious story points unfinished and them coming back in the epilogue to give answers. I love epilogues, but personally prefer that the story be complete without it and then have the epilogue as a bonus. But that is a quibble with what was a wonderful, light and fun romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: The story is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS: JOSH + HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to help prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-half-stars