The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker (2020)
Scarlet and Shane spent one magical summer together before their senior year of high school, but then he broke her heart and she left town. Now, 12 years later, she's back and living next door to her former flame. Can they overcome their past and his current situation to find love again? I enjoyed this book because of how real it felt. I sympathized with Scarlet and how she wrestled with her attraction to Shane and the hurt feelings from her past. I liked the addition of Shane being a father and how they had to navigate the complicated relationship with his ex. It felt so true to life. Tucker's writing is just so good - it's so readable and I felt swept up in the story, wanting to know how it would end for the characters. I did have a couple issues, though - I didn't like the way Shane blamed Scarlet for their issues years earlier, and the storyline with Scarlet's mother felt a little out place and had such a strange ending. But overall, a sweet and steamy second-chance romance! 4 stars
Shipped by Angie Hockman (2021)
Henley is totally focused on her career as a marketing manager for a cruise line and she's ecstatic to find out she's been shortlisted for a promotion - until she finds out her competition is her workplace nemesis Graeme and they'll both be going on a cruise to the Galapagos Islands in order to put together their proposals on how to boost bookings. What will Henley do when she realizes she's been wrong about Graeme all along? I really enjoyed this story, although honestly, the romance took a backseat for me when compared to all the other themes of the book. I liked that Henley saw a different side to Graeme once she met him in person and he was so sweet to her, considering they were in competition with each other. But more than that, I loved being able to travel to the Galapagos Islands (or at least, an area inspired by them). The cruise itself sounded amazing! I liked watching Henley form her eco-tourism proposal and the realizations she came to about her career. Plus, she was super proactive when faced with some serious workplace issues, and I really admired her for that. 4 stars
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