Dragons & Tea Book Club: December Announcement!

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Hi, everyone! I hope you’re ready for our last Dragons & Tea Book Club pick of 2019. I truly cannot believe the year is over, and that our book club is almost one year old. I want to thank everyone who read along with us this year. You truly made our book club what it is. Every month I look forward to discussing books with you, and I cannot wait to join you all again in 2020. ❤

Our December pick is a repeat author because we just love her so much and she’s the queen at writing ownvoices representation. We also wanted a lighthearted, short read since we understand the holiday season can be quite hectic for some! So our pick is a holiday romance novella (about 211 pages), and we hope you all enjoy it!


Our December book will be:

MERRY INKMAS by Talia Hibbert

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The Dates & Breakdown:

December 9th: Chapters 1 – 5

December 10th: Chapters 6 – 10

December 11th: Chapters 11 – 15

December 12th: Chapters 16 – 19

December 13th: Chapters 20 – 23

(I believe it is only available in ebook format. It is available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99 with a different cover.)


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

The Right Swipe (Modern Love, #1) by Alisha Rai

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Book provided by Avon in exchange for an honest review.


This was my first book by Alisha Rai and wooooo boy, can she write romance! Don’t let this cute illustrated cover fool you. This book is packed full of racy and steamy scenes.

This book stars Rhiannon, a black woman who came from a poor family and has had to always work twice as hard to prove herself working in a male-dominated field (tech industry.) She is very career driven and smart. She also started her own dating app. While at a conference Rhi sees an old hookup. A hookup who ghosted her in the past. His name is Samson Lima and he’s a retired NFL football player who is currently the spokesperson for a rival dating app.

I think you can see where this is going. And while I knew the enemies-to-lovers thing was coming, I wasn’t expecting Rhi and Samson to reconnect so soon. This was actually a breath of fresh air for me, because sometimes that trope can drag out too long. It was fun reading about their dynamics in the workplace while being in the middle of their angst and sexual tension.

This book also touches on the topic of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encelphalopathy, which is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes or others who have repetitive head trauma. We learn as part of Samson’s backstory that his uncle (also a former football player) passed away from CTE and he is very involved in CTE research. I’d never read a book that highlighted this condition and appreciated the author bringing awareness to it.

The lack of communication between Rhi and Samson was what ultimately didn’t bring this up to a full five stars to me. But I loved the story so much, and how strong and unapologetic Rhi is. Overall this was such a great book!

Trigger/content warnings: abusive relationship (gaslighting), sexual harassment.

fourstars


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Dragons & Tea Book Club: August Announcement!

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Hi, friends! So I know that usually Melanie and I choose a backlist title for the book club, but we are really excited about this new release! We have been eyeballing this book for months. The book releases on August 6th, so we won’t start the buddy read for book club until August 19th. We hope this will give y’all enough time to pre-order and/or request it from your library! It’s also available on audio.


Our August book will be:

THE RIGHT SWIPE by Alisha Rai

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The Dates & Breakdown:

August 19th: CH. 1 – 5

August 20th: CH. 6 – 10

August 21st: CH. 11 – 15

August 22nd: CH. 16 – 20

August 23rd: CH. 21 – 25

August 24th: CH. 26 – End

Why we chose this book:

This book is going to be steamy, and it’s filled with a very diverse cast! I also heard there is a Thai-American character so… love that for me! Here’s a tiny synopsis which I feel captures the essence of the story perfectly: Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

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Book provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.


Whoa, buddy. This book. THIS BOOK.

So if you don’t know, I recently started a booktube channel, and a few months ago I posted a video about my thoughts on cute, illustrated covers. These covers have been very popular in the adult romcom, romance, and “chick lit” (ugh, I don’t like that term) genres. But I also feel like they’re a bit… misleading? I mean, they’re definitely appropriate for the chick lit and romcom books, but sometimes these cute covers are masking more “serious” books, or in this case… a rather steamy, smutty romance. Haha! (Please know I mean no shade in this regard! I love these covers, and I much prefer them over the half-naked people lmao.)

Fix Her Up may look cute on the outside, but be prepared for all the steaminess in this book. And I’m not just talking about explicit sex scenes; there’s also a ton of explicit ‘talk’. Like wow, I need an ice bath after reading all that banter between Georgie and Travis!

Alright, let’s back up a bit. This story stars Georgie. She’s the youngest of three siblings, and even though she’s 23 years old, her family still treats her like a kid. She’s also a professional clown, which adds to how she gets treated by close friends and fam. Georgie has always had a crush on Travis. Travis is her brother’s best friend but also a former professional baseball player. After an injury, Travis no longer plays, and he lands a temporary job working for Georgie’s family’s home renovation business.

In order to “look good” for a potential new job interview, which will put Travis back in the baseball industry, he and Georgie agree to fake date. He wants to appear like a reliable man who isn’t a playboy anymore (his nickname was Two Bats. Like, wow.)

Okay, so the fake dating trope is already a favorite of mine. And I’d even say their romance is a bit ‘taboo’ in terms of how Georgie’s brother does not want Travis dating his little sister. But there’s also so much good in this, and character growth, too! Georgie, her sisters, and friends band together to support each other. I loved how these characters found ways to grow in realistic ways, and I appreciated the girl power message!

So, in a nutshell, this is such a great romcom, but be prepared for all the steamy talk and… actions. If explicit sexytimes isn’t your cup of tea, then you might want to skip this. But I had such a great time reading about Georgie and Travis, and watching their relationship evolve. And getting to chat and gush about this book with my friends was a huge bonus! ❤

fivestarsBuddy read with Jen!


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Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

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ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.


I really, really wanted to give this book a higher rating. It started as a 5-star read for me, then went down to four… but now I’m sitting at three. I was truly loving it up until the main character did some things that made me so uncomfortable and annoyed.

This book takes place in Columbus, Ohio. More specifically, it takes place in a little part of the city called German Village. I’m a local, so seeing my city represented meant so much to me. Winfrey makes a ton of references to real, local businesses such as The Book Loft (my most favorite indie book store PERIOD), Pistacia Vera, Schiller Park, and so much more. I was LIVING for these and I was so ready to make an aesthetic. Like, give me all the cozy German Village settings PLEASE.

We follow Annie, a grown-ass adult who has really high expectations about how she wants to meet a man. She grew up watching 90’s rom com movies with her mother (who has passed away) so they hold a special place in her heart. But she also has some pretty unrealistic expectations from people she dates, and she wants nothing more than to meet a man in a meet-cute fashion. And I know that all sounds a bit weird, but because this is a rom com about rom coms, I was loving it.

Annie wants to be a screen writer, and she spends her days in German Village at a coffee shop called Nick’s (which I think it based off of Stauf’s, maybe?) But you’re not going to have many film making opportunities in Ohio. However, she currently lives in her old Victorian home with her uncle, Don, and she doesn’t want to leave the house or Don behind.

One day a movie production company moves into German Village and soon Annie lands herself a position as the assistant to the director of the film. The film is a rom com and it stars a famous, hot actor named Drew. Of course, this book being a quintessential rom com, Annie bumps into Drew while on set and spills coffee on him.

Boom. Instant meet cute.

The rest of the book is a lot of back and forth banter between Annie and Drew. Their encounters are funny and cute, and I was constantly rooting for them. I also adored Annie’s friend, Chloe, who was your typical honest/silly/always-there-for-you-BFF.

The thing is: I really did love all the rom com references. While I know that would be annoying to some readers, I knew all the cheesy rom com moments were necessary. And I knew where the story was going. But, because I knew where the story was going, I kept feeling a sense of dread that Annie was going to do a very stupid thing.

Y’all. She does something so stupid, so cringey, so goddamn awful I just want to hide under a rock due to all the secondhand embarrassment. And when that stupid thing is done, and a certain other character feels hurt, she has the audacity to play the victim.

Another thing that I was discussing with my buddy read group was how the author felt the need to bring up, several times, how rom coms lack diversity. And yet… she didn’t include any diversity at all. I really don’t understand the point of her bringing up that topic at all? Why even mention it if you aren’t going to do something about it? Why not have a marginalized main character*? She included one minor character who was POC but their soul purpose was to teach Annie a lesson so that was kinda weird. (*I should note the reason I’m even bringing up why there should’ve been a main POC character was because the film in the book is about an interracial couple and Chloe even mentions how whitewashed rom coms are.)

So while I did love the other cute, cheesy rom com moments and I absolutely adored the setting, I was just disappointed with how the last 1/4 played out. I mean, I enjoyed the very, very end, and I am looking forward to reading Chloe’s story next. But I hope the next installment won’t try so hard to make such bold statements about diversity and then not do anything about it on the page.

But I do still recommend this book if you’re a rom com lover, and I do think you’ll be rooting for Annie and Drew!

threestarsBuddy read with Melanie, Alexa, & Madalyn!

 


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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Book provided by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.


Confession: This was my first ever Christina Lauren book, and I can promise it won’t be my last. This was truly the perfect beachy/poolside read and I will recommend it to everyone.

The Unhoneymooners is a contemporary adult romantic comedy that starts out with a wedding. Ami and Olive are twins, but all her life Olive has felt like the “unlucky twin.” Ami is getting married, and Olive is helping her sister with all the final arrangements. But during the reception everyone comes down with food poisoning from eating from the seafood buffet. Everyone… except Olive and the best man, Ethan. Ethan is also the groom’s brother, but he and Olive hate each other.

Not wanting the non-refundable honeymoon in Maui to go to waste, Ami encourages Olive and Ethan to pose as the married couple and take their honeymoon. Olive reluctantly agrees, thinking she can go to relax and avoid Ethan completely.

Of course, this being a romantic comedy… they can’t avoid each other because they’re stuck in the same suite. Things get hilarious from there as they start to bump into people they know from Minnesota, and Olive and Ethan have to put on a show to make everyone believe they are actually married.

If you know me then I love enemies-to-lovers romances. Top it off with a fake dating/fake marriage trope and you’ve got my attention. I was audibly laughing out loud during the majority of this book. I loved the love/hate relationship between Olive and Ethan and it was so much fun to watch their tension grow into a more romantic way.

And let’s not forget the Hawaiian setting, which is making me miss the beach something fierce.

I was also loving Olive’s family, and how much they all support each other and are always there for each other. I’m not going to get into spoilers, but Olive has trouble with employment, and her family was there to help her. Even if her family isn’t in the book a lot, I really loved their dynamics.

However, what made me not rate this an entire 5 stars is how a certain issue was handled between Olive and two male characters. I was really aggravated how Olive was treated in such a flippant way. This is 2019 and when a woman says she’s uncomfortable from a man’s sexual advances, you damn well better listen to her and take her seriously.

Overall this is such a swoon worthy book and I could not stop myself from laughing during the witty, sarcastic exchanges between Olive and Ethan. They are an OTP in my heart and I hope we can see them again in future books!

fourstars

Buddy read with Heather & Jen!


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Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

41150487ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Synopsis:

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?


If there’s one book that’s going to stick with me for years to come, it is Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I had no idea how much this book was going to make me smile, swoon, and cheer for every single character I came across. I’m not even exaggerating when I say these characters feel like actual, real people, and if you’re like me who is just… really unhappy with the way US politics has been going… then you’re probably going to want these characters to be real, too.

Firstly, I want to mention that this book is new adult (not YA!) So, yes, there are some steamy scenes! Most fade to black, but, nonetheless, still steamy!

So this book stars Alex Claremont-Diaz, a bisexual, 21-year-old, Mexican-American who is the First Son of the United States. His mother, Ellen Claremont, is the first woman president, and she’s coming up for reelection in 2020. You see, in this alternate reality, a woman president took office after President Obama. And, y’all, this book cannot come at a better time when all I want is to keep that hope alive that things here will eventually… get better?

And then there’s Henry, the Prince of Wales. Henry is gay but has not come out due to the pressure and expectations from the crown. Henry has two siblings: an older brother and younger sister. He’s such a soft guy, and he feels so much weight upon him to fulfill his royal obligations. But Henry’s also suffering from anxiety and depression after his father passed away, and his mother has been absent since his father’s death.

This story has my favorite trope of all time: enemies-to-lovers! Alex, the POTUS, and their entourage fly to England for a royal wedding (Henry’s brother’s.) Alex has met Henry before, and always felt like Henry came off as a jerk. So after a bit of arguing, Alex and Henry accidentally destroy the royal wedding cake, and the two families go into full recovery-mode in order to get the negative press off their backs.

Which then leads into… the fake-friendship trope! Now Alex and Henry have to pretend to be BFFs in front of the press so they can clear the air especially since President Claremont is running for reelection and she cannot have this international-wedding-catastrophe in the spotlight.

I’m sure you can guess what happens from here… but once they become fake friends, a real friendship blooms as the FSOTUS and Prince get to know each other. A romance then ensues, and soon they’re trying their best to keep everything a secret.

I really had the best time reading this book. Alex is so sarcastic, witty, and has the best one-liners I’ve ever read. He’s also full of so much heart and he cares so much about his family and his background. His grandparents are Mexican immigrants, and I cannot help but relate so hard to how Alex struggles with his identity of being half Mexican and white (I’m half Thai/white); how sometimes we aren’t sure which box we fit into. I also felt such a deep emotional attachment to Henry as he wanted nothing more than to fulfill his royal obligations, but at the same time struggles with the thought of putting himself and his happiness first.

The romance in this book is top notch, and I would give my soul for a sequel. I not only fell in love with Alex and Henry, but the other diverse cast made this story so amazing. I love June, Nora, Bea, Pez, Tarah, and the POTUS (Ellen) so, so much. Like I said, I truly wish these characters were real people!

Okay, I’m done gushing about this adorable, swoon-worthy book. I sincerely hope you’ll pick this up; not only for the romance, but for the witty banter, hilarious characters, found families, close friendships, and glimmers of hope.

However, there is a lot of talk about US (and royal) politics in this book, so if that’s not your jam, then you may not love it. But even so, all the talks of politics throughout the book does have a purpose and makes sense as the story progresses (I know I’m being vague, but you’ll see what I mean if you read it!)

Trigger/content warnings: Homophobia, talks of cancer, death of a parent, outing, anxiety, depression, talks of drug use, talks of past sexual assault.

fivestars

Buddy read with Heather & Kristin!


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A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert

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Read in February for the Dragons & Tea Book Club!


Goodreads Synopsis:

She’s the town pariah. He doesn’t give a damn.

In Ruth Kabbah’s world, comic books are king, silence is golden, and human contact is a pesky distraction. She doesn’t like people, which works out just fine, because the people in this small town don’t like her. The exception to that rule? Evan Miller, her way-too-charming next-door neighbour…

Ex-military man Evan is all tattooed muscle on the outside—and a big, cuddly teddy bear beneath. He’s used to coaxing prickly people from their shells, but he’s never met a woman quite like Ruth. Blunt, sarcastic, and secretly sad, she’s his exact opposite. She’s also his deepest desire.

Soon, Evan’s steady patience and smouldering smiles are melting Ruth’s reserve. But when small-town gossip from her past begins to poison her future, she’s forced to make a choice. Should she trust Evan completely? Or is her heart safest alone?

Please be aware: this book contains mentions of intimate partner violence that could trigger certain audiences.

I had never heard of Talia Hibbert before, but the second I found out she’s a romance writer who is always boosting body positivity and consent, I WAS THERE FOR IT. Now I want to own every single book by her. Please, if you want to support an independent, ownvoices author, pick up her books! I truly think you’ll be in for a real treat.

This book follows Ruth, a black, plus sized woman who creates web comics and prefers to stay home and keeps to herself. She lives in a small town called Ravenswood, where she’s been labeled a “pariah” and rumors about her are constantly flying. But she’s just trying to move on from her past where she was involved in an abusive relationship. Ruth is also autistic and she tends to not trust new people. She is only close to her sister and mother, but that all starts to change when Evan moves in next door.

Evan is white, ex-military, and he’s very soft spoken and incredibly loyal. He also has a past where he was hurt, and he’s just trying to move on. He’s kind and constantly giving to others. He notices Ruth and slowly befriends her. After he sees Ruth’s horrible diet and learning her cooking skills are… nonexistent… he starts cooking her food every day and brings it over. AND OMG MY HEART.

There’s nothing I love more than two people connecting over food, and I just loved how understanding and patient Evan was with Ruth. He never pressured her to confront him about her past, and once their relationship evolved, there was always so much consent and body positivity.

What I really loved about Ruth was that she was so fiercely loyal to her family, and she knew how to stand up for herself. But she also completely shuts down when any mention of her ex was brought up, because she was always so focused on guilt and blaming herself for the abuse. This topic is brought up a lot, but Talia Hibbert really does such a tasteful job at addressing it. Ruth’s anxiety is also so relatable, and I just know so many people are going to understand and just GET her character. Also? Her favorite attire is pajamas and that is such a mood.

Please use caution going into this book if you are a survivor of abuse. And there are triggers for anxiety, slut shaming, and ableism language toward autism. But I seriously can’t recommend this book enough if you are looking for a good book in the romance genre. Trust me, I don’t read a ton of romance (where there is a whole lotta steam!) but this one was so incredibly well written and you will fly right through it!

fivestars


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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.


Title: The Bride Test

Author: Helen Hoang

Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary romance

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Goodreads Synopsis:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Oh, to dive back into the world of my favorite Vietnamese family made me so happy!

There’s just something so comforting about Helen Hoang’s writing. I can’t put into words how much her books mean to me and the themes she tackles are so important. If I could choose one author to read books from for the rest of my life, it would be her.

The Bride Test is a spin-off/companion novel to The Kiss Quotient. We follow Khai, a smart, hardworking young professional. He also has ASD (autism spectrum disorder, formerly known as Asperger’s), which makes him feel and process emotions a bit differently. Khai believes he has a heart of stone; that he is incapable of feeling love and sadness. He doesn’t get close to many people, and because of this, his mother decides to try to play match-maker. She flies to Vietnam to find Khai a girlfriend (and potential wife.)

Enter: Esme. Esme is half Vietnamese and white, but she never knew her birth father. She works as a hotel maid, and she’s a single mother taking care of her daughter, mother, and grandmother in Vietnam. When the offer to fly to California to meet Khai arises, she takes it, thinking she can at least try to start a new life for her and her family.

I will admit, the whole “mail order bride” concept did cross my mind and it made me feel kind of weird. But this story isn’t about forcing two people into a marriage. This story is about a girl who just wants a better life for her daughter; to carve her own path and to make her own future. Esme is so smart and brilliant, and she doesn’t take shit from anybody. But she’s also so kind and softhearted, and she truly sees the best in everyone.

I simply adored her dynamic with Khai and his family. And I loved how Helen Hoang made everything very slow-burn. The pacing was perfect, and it also played out the romance (and sexual tension) in an organic way. I appreciated how Hoang spoke about ASD and explained how Khai processes information and how he reacts to certain things a certain way. This book is ownvoices, and Hoang drew inspiration for Khai from her own experiences with ASD.

But above all, this book was a love letter to Hoang’s mother. Just like Esme, her mother came to America with hopes to start a new life, too. And she truly did. All on her own. I implore you to read the author’s note at the end of the book, because it will make you feel 10000% more connected to the story.

So, I know you’re probably wondering which book is “better”: The Kiss Quotient or The Bride Test? They both stand on their own in totally different ways. If I HAD to choose? I think I preferred The Kiss Quotient because it was a bit more lighthearted. The Bride Test was definitely steamy, and the characters are so lovable (Quan is truly the best bro out there), but it took on more serious tones. (But, yes, there is a cameo from our beloved Michael and Stella.) Even so, I still stand by my 5-stars. As someone who grew up in SE Asia, I was living for all the scenes that talked about food (fish sauce, rambutans, lychees) and the Asian-family dynamics. I truly think this book will be perfect if you’re looking for a steamy romance filled with so much heart and humor. ❤

Also? I am so stoked Hoang is going to write five more books, all centering around Michael’s sisters! BRING THEM ON!

fivestars

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

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Book provided by William Morrow in exchange for an honest review.

threestars

Title: 99 Percent Mine

Author: Sally Thorne

Pages: 368

Genre: Adult contemporary romance, chick lit

My rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

99 Percent Mine was such an anticipated 2019 release for me, and I am so thankful I got to read it in time for Contemporaryathon!

This book follows three main characters: Darcy and her twin brother, Jamie, and their friend Tom. All her life Darcy has had a crush on her childhood friend, Tom. But since Tom was Jamie’s best friend, she never pursued a relationship with him. Flash forward to the present and the twins have inherited their grandmother’s cottage. The cottage is in poor shape so they hire a home renovation team to come in to flip it so they can sell it. Enter: Tom, Mr. Home Renovator Extraordinaire.

I really love the premise of house flipping, and I knew that the setting of being confined in a small cottage was going to be the perfect set up for sexual tension. But for some reason I actually got a bit… bored? Maybe it’s because the ENTIRE book (except the first chapter) takes place in the cottage, so everything started to feel redundant.

Another thing that was also very redundant to me was the constant reminder that Darcy is “not like other girls.” There’s the constant reminder that she has a nipple piercing, her hair is short, she drinks a lot, she neglects her health, and she’s constantly globetrotting. Maybe I’m just tired of the “not like other girls” trope, but all of those points were ALWAYS brought up way too much.

I was also so disappointed in how Darcy treated Tom. Tom is, by far, the best character in the book. He’s so soft and kind, and learning about his past made him so much more likeable. But Darcy’s strong sexual aggression toward him borderline made me uncomfortable, and she was really demanding of him. Also? We are reminded practically on every page how hot Tom is. It’s like, okay… we get it. He’s hot. Let’s talk about something else. Lol!

Don’t even get me started on Jamie. Yikes. He was such a bad seed and I really didn’t like how he was painted to be a villain, but at the same time he was the only person who could help Darcy through her health problems.

I realize I just dumped a ton of negativity in this review, so I apologize! I actually did enjoy this book overall! I loved the cottage setting so much, and I really loved Tom. And I won’t ever deny that Sally Thorne is amazing at writing friends/enemies-to-lovers romances, and the way she builds sexual tension is A+. Are you going to get The Hating Game? No. But I do think fans of her writing will still appreciate this story. There’s a lot of talk about found family and strong friendships which warmed my heart, and the slow burn romance is worth it!

threestars

Buddy read with Trina, Heather, and Kristin!

xx,

Amy