Royal Icing by Aven Ellis (2020)
While attempting to land the biggest job of her career (providing the cookies for the upcoming royal wedding), baker Poppy crosses paths with the Prince of Wales, Alexander, but their burgeoning relationship won't be easy. I had some issues with this one, unfortunately. The compressed timeline felt like the relationship was moving at warp speed, and Poppy and Alexander were worrying about issues they didn't need to yet. The writing wasn't as good as I wanted it to be; cringey dialogue, too much telling, and not enough showing. The characters are all one-dimensional; everyone is perfect except for the "villain," who is OTT nasty. But, I can never resist the trope of royalty falling in love with regular people, and there were a lot of good discussions about what that meant for Poppy and Alexander's relationship. The book kicks off with an adorable meet-cute, and I loved the way Alexander opened up to Poppy like he never had with anyone before - such a swoon-worthy prince! 3 stars
Street Smart by Aly Stiles (2021)
Office romance between an intern and his boss as they work together to investigate corporate espionage. It's still early in the year, but I know for sure this is going to end up on my "best of 2021" list, this book was that good! It has everything - it's smart and sexy and funny, with an intriguing plot and well-rounded characters. I loved Marcos - he hasn't had the easiest life, but he's worked hard and has landed an amazing internship at a huge company while he works toward his MBA. On his first day, he comes across some suspicious documents involving the owner's son and his new company. He then finds himself working with his boss, Eva, to uncover what's going on. I loved watching these two work together - not only do they have amazing chemistry, but they're both super smart. Their brains are just as attractive to each other as their physical qualities. Between the snappy writing, the romance, and the fun side characters, I couldn't stop reading this book! 5 stars
Only When It's Us by Chloe Liese (2020)
Rising college soccer star Willa Sutter is a force on the field, but off it she avoids confrontation and hates being vulnerable. Ryder Bergman, her new class partner, might be just the person to change that. This book is exactly the type of romance I've been enjoying - it's funny but still has depth. Both Willa and Ryder are facing tough things in their lives - Willa's mom is seriously ill with cancer, and Ryder lost most of his hearing a couple years earlier. I really enjoyed the college setting (especially their roommates), and the forced proximity between the two, having to work on projects and study together, really worked. The tension and attraction between the two was obvious from the start, but their romance is definitely a bit of a slow burn. I wanted them to just get over the whole "frenemy" issue! Ryder's patience with and attention to Willa is unparalleled, though, and I'm looking forward to getting to know the rest of the Bergman clan in the next books in the series. 4 stars
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