Throwback Thursday // Sports Romance

November 09, 2023

Hey everyone and welcome to another Throwback Thursday! Every week I'll be sharing my book recommendations within a romantic trope.

Today I'm sharing with you the first five Sports Romance books that I loved and reviewed on the blog. I haven't read a lot of stories dealing with athletes or competitive sports games, but the ones I have read have been mostly amazing. The heroes are crazy hot, right? If you've got a recommendation, please let me know.

Secrets of an Alpha Male by J.D. Hawkins

Connor is a sexy MMA fighter who went from no one to someone overnight. He's cocky, arrogant, and not very pleasing to read... until he meets Frankie. Her mellow attitude and chill vibes bring out the best in Connor, making this an entertaining read about a hero who redeems himself before the end.

Find my review HERE

Breaking Cage by A.J. Pryor

I haven't read another book from this author since and I'm confused as to why. I enjoyed this book! It may have been a sports romance, but it had hints of mystery and intrigue as well. The hero, Derek, was an enigma and Hannah was desperate and determined to find out everything about him.

Find my review HERE

Disengaged by Jamie Magee

This was the first time that a sports romance read was so dark for me. I wish I could find a book with a similar vibe. I never knew what would happen next and I can really appreciate a story that is so far from predictable that I can't hazard a guess about anything.

Find my review HERE

Destiny on Ice by S.R. Grey

I'll never forget Mr.51 LOL!! This story was romantic and funny, sweet and charming and honestly... the same can be said for all of the books of this series. The Boys of Winter were hot, talented and absolutely devoted to the women in their lives.

Find my review HERE

Intended for Bristol by L.P. Dover

One thing I really enjoy about this author's books is how warm they feel, even when they're full of angst and drama. Jaxon was a sports star who kept messing up and Bristol was the woman who made him finally face his shortcomings. There is romance, sweetness and a touch of suspense.

Find my review HERE

Review // Sacrifice, Wicked Beautiful, and Landon

November 08, 2023

I read these books a long time ago so they're not exactly new, but it was about time I shared them.
Have you read any of these?

Sacrifice by Adriana Locke

Contemporary Second Chance Romance, dual POV

My life changed forever the night my husband died.
I was left with a shattered heart, a heap of bills, and our daughter, EVERLEIGH. I don’t want to rely on anyone, least of all CREW GENTRY. He’s my first love and the man who almost destroyed me, the man who has let me down every time I’ve needed him.
But when tragedy strikes a second time, Crew just might be my only hope.

My life changed forever the night my brother died.
I was left with a guilty conscience, a pile of mistakes, and little else. I take care of JULIA GENTRY, my brother’s widow and the love of my life, and their daughter. I know she doesn’t want my help, but she gets it anyway. I owe her that.

When another disaster hits, I’m given the opportunity to make things right. I’m taking it. I'm willing to sacrifice it all.

Rating: ★★★★

Reading a book shrouded in grief is one of the hardest things to do. I got hit by the feels right from the start and the hits kept on coming.

This story is about Gage, Crew, Julia, and a sweet little girl named Everleigh. It's about family. It's about being lost and found. It's about coping and moving on. It's about second chances. And it's about redemption.

I'm not saying anymore about the plot. Read the book!!

I didn't cry. I could see why people did but I'm a tough nut to crack so...

I loved the relationships in this book the most. That of Gage and Crew and their brotherly bond, always having each other's backs. Crew and Will with their best friend/family thing. Julia and Ever were as sweet as can be. Crew and Julia finally finding their way back to each other. My most favourite of all was the relationship between Crew and Ever. Nothing touched my heart more than what he was willing to do for her.

In short, this book was amazing and definitely worth a read. All lovers of romance and second chances should give it a try.

Wicked Beautiful by J.T. Geissinger

Contemporary Second Chance Romance, dual POV

Life coach and best-selling author Victoria Price has it all: a successful career, fabulous friends, a fantastic penthouse in Manhattan. What she doesn’t have—and doesn’t want—is a husband. Fifteen years ago her high school flame broke her heart so badly she swore she’d never love again.

Drop-dead sexy restauranteur and infamous playboy Parker Maxwell has only three rules for the women he dates: no questions about his past, no expectations for the future, and no spending the night. When he meets Victoria, however, he’s willing to break his own rules if it means sating the explosive desire she arouses in him. What he doesn’t know is that the alluring Victoria Price used to be the mousy Isabel Diaz, the girl he deflowered and dumped long ago.

Presented with a perfect opportunity for revenge, Victoria decides the game is on. But when her connection with Parker proves more than just skin deep, she has to make a choice: continue with her plan for payback, or risk her career, her reputation, and her heart by taking a second chance on love?

Rating: ★★★★

This was such a great book. From the intense looks (ice cold and fiery hot), the dramatics, the angst, the banter, the secrets... All of that was wonderful. I felt the (unnecessary) pain of both Parker and Victoria. They endured so much loss, hurt and distance because of his dad's bigotry. So senseless.

This book had all the makings of a 5 star rating, but... I felt that the secrets dragged on for too long. Victoria/Isabel had many opportunities to come clean and didn't. This frustrated me because Parker was being so open and honest. And when he was talking about his first love, what about that story made her think he was talking about anybody but her??? I wanted to bash her in the head with my iPad!! I get she wanted revenge. I get that she went through a lot. But obviously he wasn't a bad guy.

Also, the ending was bittersweet and I wanted more. Yes, they came full circle. Anddddddd...........

Landon by Scarlett Edwards

Contemporary Emotional Romance

Fearful of exposing the secret she's been hiding for years, Celeste Adams never lets feelings seep into her relationships with men. But when one sinful night introduces her to a gorgeous stranger she cannot simply forget, her resolve to remain unattached is threatened...

She resists the temptation to seek out more, while forging ahead plans to recreate herself as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. And she does just fine, until that very same stranger waltzes back into her life as the very sexy, and very unattainable...

Professor James Landon.

... Suddenly our lives are thrown together on a collision course of the deepest passions. Neither of us know how far this will lead. How powerful these feelings will become.

Or, that our love is doomed from the very start.

Rating: ★★★★1/2

I am literally sitting in front of my laptop writing this review and crying over this stupid book. I feel duped!! I am so mad at Scarlett Edwards that I could see myself throttling her. How dare you make me fall in love with your characters???? James was such an amazing character. His intellect, integrity, honesty, devotion, love, etc. made him the best person in this book. How he handled Celeste, right up until the end, was truly incredible. But I'm still mad!! Does this author not like HEAs???? And if not, why didn't anyone freaking warn me????

If you are interested in reading a book about two extremely interesting characters who fight against an impending and certain love, who fight the odds, who stand together against foes (Angela and Summer were scum. Summer in no way was redeemed in my eyes, regardless of how she was at the end), and has a messed up twist at the end that will frustrate and aggravate the sh*t out of you, then this is the book for you.

Review // Perfection by R.L. Mathewson

November 07, 2023

He already decided she was marrying him no matter what.
Informing her that they were getting married was just a courtesy.

Perfection by R.L. Mathewson

Rating - ★★★★★
Standalone - Neighbor From Hell #2
Release - August 26, 2011
Genre and Trope - Romantic Comedy / friends to lovers
POV - Dual 3rd person
Heat - several explicit scenes
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Length - 314 pages

Trevor Bradford knew exactly what he wanted and it wasn’t his plump little tenant who was driving him out of his mind, but with every touch, kiss, and caress, it was becoming more difficult to walk away.

He never should have said those words, but once they were out…

Trevor would have done anything to take them back, but the damage was already done. Hoping to make it up to Zoe, Trevor offers to help her, hoping that it would be enough. The last thing that he expected was to find himself thinking about her. Hoping to put an end to this hold that she had over him, he offers her something more, only...

It wasn’t enough.

Just once, Zoe wished that something in her life would go right, but that’s not usually how things went. At least, not for her. So, when her life suddenly takes an unexpected turn and the man who’d never looked at her twice offers to help her, she realizes that she has nothing left to lose.

Except for her heart.

My Two Cents

Seriously, these Bradfords are HILARIOUS!! It seems until they take their heads out of their asses, they're extremely obtuse. Trevor was terrible. He treated Zoe poorly, viewed life in general poorly, and honestly, it was more a reflection of how he viewed himself more than anything when he acted horribly.

Zoe was a doormat, but not really. She knew how to stand up for herself and I cheered her every time she did. They say opposites attract and I think that's very true for this couple.
Where Trevor was a slob, Zoe was neat.
He could eat a horse (or five) and Zoe was trying to diet.
He was one of the hottest people in the world and Zoe thought being called plain and chubby was fair.
They were absolutely perfect for each other and I enjoyed my time witnessing how they helplessly fell in love.

I laughed SO HARD so many times and this isn't my first time reading this book. I'm so grateful it was so amazing the second time around!

I also read two of the books from the Honeymoon From Hell part of the series:

With Jason and Haley's novella (which I gave 5 stars), I laughed so much I actually snorted my Coke through my nose. Anyone who has ever done something like this with soda, you know my pain. Jason kidnapped Haley (again) to get her to the altar at the courthouse and wanted to give her the honeymoon of her dreams. Good intentions and all, things only went from bad to worse. But the love these two had for each other made every mishap, obstacle, and bit of pain absolutely worth it. I freaking love these characters and their ridiculousness so much!!

With Trevor and Zoe's novella (which I gave 4 stars), I giggled like a loon. He also kidnapped her to the altar and thought to give her the honeymoon she never knew to ask for. Knowing she'd never taken a vacation before, he wanted to make things perfect. Right off the bat, things took a turn to the absurd and I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm in love with the way these characters love each other.

Previous Book in the Series:

The Author

New York Times Bestselling author, R.L. Mathewson was born in Massachusetts. She’s known for her humor, quick wit and ability to write relatable characters. She currently has several paranormal and contemporary romance series published including the Neighbor from Hell series.

Growing up, R.L. Mathewson was a painfully shy bookworm. After high school she attended college, worked as a bellhop, fast food cook, and a museum worker until she decided to take an EMT course. Working as an EMT helped her get over her shyness as well as left her with some fond memories and some rather disturbing ones that from time to time show up in one of her books.

Today, R.L. Mathewson is the single mother of two children that keep her on her toes. She has a bit of a romance novel addiction as well as a major hot chocolate addiction and on a perfect day, she combines the two.

Visit for more information

Review // Tempted by the Devil by Michelle Heard

November 06, 2023

Tempted by the Devil by Michelle Heard

With my walls down, she walks into my black heart
and makes herself right at home,
and for the first time in my life,
I feel a flicker of love.

Tempted by the Devil by Michelle Heard

Tempted by the Devil by Michelle Heard

Rating - ★★★★1/4
Standalone - Kings of Mafia #1
Release - October 19, 2023
Genre and Trope - Contemporary Romance / arranged marriage / mafia
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - several descriptive scenes
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Length - 270 pages

Attending a party with my stepbrother, I’m in for the surprise of my life.
It’s not a regular party, but instead, my wedding.
To Angelo Rizzo.
A coldhearted man who’s feared by all. Including me.

Turns out my stepbrother owes the Cosa Nostra money, and I’m being used to repay his debt to Angelo Rizzo.

Do I have a choice?
No. Not when it comes to matters concerning the Cosa Nostra.

Three hours later, I have a new shiny wedding ring on my finger and a husband I’m terrified of standing by my side.
Yep, my life just took a turn for the worse.
There’s no hiding. No running.
All I can do is face the nightmare that awaits me and pray I’ll survive being married to Angelo Rizzo.

Tempted by the Devil by Michelle Heard

My Two Cents

First of all, thank you for the book rec Janine @ The World Was Hers for the Reading because I ended up REALLY liking this story!

Angelo was one of the bosses of the New York underground. He was deadly, dangerous, and extremely sexy. He was everything that an innocent girl like Tori should fear. And she did. However, over time, she found that he was so much more than the man who would kill a guy over two thousand dollars. He was protective, kind, generous, and overwhelmingly loving of her. She saw the man behind the rep and he was everything she could have ever dreamed of.

I'm going to make you love me so much that you can't live without me. I'll become your god and the one you pray to... And I'll love you like you're my salvation."

There are elements of suspense and plenty of drama, but I enjoyed how all they did was draw this couple closer together. Angelo quickly found his heart with Tori and the author did a great job of mixing the mushy with the scary details.

I didn't know this was the first in a series of standalones, but I'm excited about it and I'm looking forward to reading the next book. Will I see Angelo again?

The Author

Michelle Heard is a USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon #3 Bestselling romance author. She writes emotional heart-shattering stories with a whole lot of Mafia & Romance that will leave you smiling with satisfaction. Every book has an unexpected twist that will show the strength of the characters who have to fight for their HEA.

Before becoming an author, Michelle had a career in banking. She lives in South Africa with her son.

Want to be up to date with what’s happening in Michelle’s world? Follow her on social media or sign up to receive the latest news on her alpha hero releases, sales, and great giveaways →

Series Review // Beneath by Meghan March

Today's flashback is the Beneath series by Meghan March. This is an emotional contemporary romance that tackles tropes such as opposites attract, second chance, friends to lovers, etc. Mind you, I've only read the first 4 books of the series so if you've read books 5-7, please let me know if I should get back to reading this series. I might do it anyway at some point because I'm a bit of a completist when it comes to series that are actually full of good stories. Note that the following reviews were written back in 2017 when I read these books.

So have you ever read these books? Are you interested in giving them a try?

1. Beneath This Mask

Former Navy fighter pilot. Son of a congressman. Successful businessman in my own right. With a résumé like mine, women have never been a challenge.

Until I met her.

This sexy, tatted-up bad girl wasn’t part of my plans, but that punch to my gut every time I see her tells me I have to know more.
She’s a mystery. An enigma. A challenge.

I’m going to figure her out — and then I’m going to make her mine.
We’ll find out what she’s hiding... beneath this mask.

Rating - ★★★★1/5

A solid 4.5. I had to dock because of the heroine of the book. She was terribly annoying. I'm all for being independent and convincing yourself that you can do bad all by yourself. But that's not what this was. I don't even know what this was. But I do believe that when someone proves to you that they can be trusted, you should friggin trust them. There is nothing wrong with looking within your circle for someone to lean on. What she was running from was serious, yeah, but come the frig on. Nobody was wanted for murder or something equally heinous. I also understand the fear of tainting other lives with the shameful smears that make up your own. But I'm not a fool. I do not adhere to the ideology of "sins of the father..." and all that nonsense. I just feel like she should have opened up to Simon earlier. Shoot, she didn't even open up to Con and he showed his loyalty ceaselessly as well. Ah well, I guess it had to happen for us to get the story we did. I just found her inner monologue struggle annoying. But I loved everything else about her.

Simon was awesome. A beautiful man going through his own inner turmoil but still has it within himself to be there for Charlie. He was just so sweet and patient with her. Even when a trauma landed someone he loved in the hospital. Nerves of steel. I'm just glad his patience was well rewarded and these two characters got their HEA.

Fave Quotes:
“Don’t break my heart, Charlie.”
I slid my hands up through his dark hair, hoping he could see everything I felt for him. Everything I was afraid to put into words. “Not without shattering my own.”

“This is me telling you, without a single reservation, that I want more. A whole hell of a lot more, Simon. I want it all. With you.”
My heart hammered at her words and the sight of her before me. Naked in every way. No walls. No masks. No secrets. No lies. Just Charlie. My inked, pierced, beautiful Charlie.”

2. Beneath This Ink

I’ve always known she was too good for me, but that never stopped me from wanting her.

And then I finally had her for one night.

A night I don’t remember.

I figured I’d blown my shot.

But now she’s walked back into my life, and this time, I have the upper hand. I want my second chance.

Will she be able to see the man beneath this ink?

Rating - ★★★★

I loved Constantine!! I also loved Vanessa!! The two of them together was so sweet. Their wasn't much drama. The only thing I took issue with was the heavy dose of classism, but that's because I'm not a fan of isms.

I liked the fact that they liked each other since high school but didn't believe that the other even noticed them. I felt bad for the blame Con carried over the deaths of his parents and I'm glad there was justice for him. Vanessa was such a great companion for him. I kind of figured out they were meant to be in Beneath This Mask.

Lucas was such a jerk throughout this book and I'm happy he was able to redeem himself in the end. I wonder what his back story is. Will there be books about him, Lord, or Hennessey? Not sure if the other two men are even single but I'd like to know more about them.

It kind of wigged me out that this book followed the same timeline as its predecessor. I figured it would occur sometime after. It was a little bit confusing but I did enjoy their POVs when experiencing the events from book 1.

3. Beneath These Chains

I was raised on the streets, so I know things are rarely as simple as they appear—especially this rich girl showing up at my pawnshop demanding a job. She’s the most tempting thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be damned if I can make her leave.

Shit just got complicated … but when it comes to her, I want complicated. We’re both fighting our own demons, and our only chance at a future is to let go of the past.

But will we be strong enough to break free from beneath these chains?

Rating - ★★★★

These books are so good. Beneath These Chains was amazing. You take two people scarred by their pasts, add an antagonistic gangster, also add a serial killer, and you've got a recipe for success. I already liked Lord from Beneath This Ink and I'm happy I was able to love him in this book. He's a real stand up guy. Devoted and loyal brother, friend, mentor, and boyfriend. Although there was no real OTT drama, the buildup towards solidifying a relationship between Lord and Elle was still enjoyable. Elle was a riot. Her smart mouth and stubborn ways were the perfect counter for Lord. My heart ached for Lord when he discovered the truth behind the murders. I can't even imagine that pain. I'm just glad that through all of the turmoil in this book, he and Elle managed to stay strong and handle everything together.

Now I'm preparing myself to read about Lucas Titan, sexy asshole extraordinaire lol. I have a feeling that I'm going to really love him too.

4. Beneath These Scars

I’m the guy you love to hate.

In every story in my life, I seem to end up playing the villain—and I’ve got the scars to prove it.

That role works fine for me, because I’m sure as hell not anyone’s hero.

I run my life and my empire with an iron fist—until she knocks my tightly controlled world off its axis.

She’s nobody’s damsel in distress, but I can’t help but want to save her anyway.

I guess we’re about to find out if there’s a hero buried beneath these scars.

Rating - ★★★★

I would like to say that I did not like Yvie/Yvonne. Not until the 85% mark thereabouts. A lot of the time she joined the exclusive club of TSTL. Many of us have suffered from abuse in our pasts, whether physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. And when what she suffered was described, damn did I feel for her. No one should have to go through that. But she survived people!! She came off as an empty shell because unfortunately she hadn't dealt with the trauma. There was no mention of therapy so I'm guessing she did some self-help. Didn't friggin work! She coloured everyone with the same brush. I get not wanting to get close to another man again, but she treated her friends like crap. She didn't allow them to even know her, much less get close to her. She was not a good friend.

She took the entire "independent woman" thing too far. Her pride kept getting in her damn way. We as people do not know everything about everything. But Yvie must have been the exception. Because whenever someone offered up help or a solution, she knew what she was doing. She didn't need them. Until about the 85% mark, I didn't want her to have a HEA. I wanted Lucas to find someone else. He deserved better than the disrespectful way she was treating him.

This book got a high rating from me only because of Lucas. I knew I would love him in his own book!! I appreciated the fact that he always always always kept it real. I love a straight shooter!

October 2023 Bookish Recap

November 05, 2023

Hello hello and welcome to another recap!

October wasn't the best reading I've done, but it wasn't the worst.

For half of the month (I'm talking even right now) I was sick. If I wasn't drowning in snot, I was hacking up a lung. I couldn't even work, that's how bad it was. I slept, which means I barely read. I'm feeling better by a mile aside from a lingering wheezing cough and I'm just grateful I tested negative for Covid.

So here's what my October looked like and I'm hoping November is WAY better for me (and for us all):


Total Books Read: 9
Total Pages Read: 2919
Genres: Comic, Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Scifi
Tropes: enemies-to-lovers, fated mates, forbidden, forced proximity, royal
From my TBR: 2
Avg. Rating: 4.39 stars

All the Books

My favorite reads of the month were:

Other books I enjoyed and would recommend:

The Naga Outcast's Unwanted Mate by Robin O'Connor
Does it Hurt? by H.D. Carlton

Added to my tbr

Book Haul

Aside from books I borrowed from both the library and Kindle Unlimited, I've bought nothing!! I'm doing so well with this DON'T YOU DARE BUY ANY MORE BOOKS, NATALIE goal I've set for myself :)

I hope we find only the best reads in August!

Talk soon,

xo, Natalie

Review // Gula by Colette Rhodes

Gula by Colette Rhodes

"Bed," Selene ordered the moment I stepped into the room.
"You smell needy."
My historical trend of failing upward appeared to be continuing. "I am. Super needy. Let's go."

Gula by Colette Rhodes

Gula by Colette Rhodes

Rating - ★★★★1/2
Standalone - Shades of Sin #3
Release - September 30, 2023
Genre and Trope - paranormal romance / forced proximity / protection
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - slow burn and descriptive scenes
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Length - 284 pages

Selene cares about three things in life:
 1. Her prestigious position as Lieutenant of the Guard that very few of the elite at Court feel she deserves.
 2. Her beloved sister and niece, humiliating reminders of her humble origins.
 3. Her penchant for rare and expensive dining—a status symbol and marker of the success she’s attained.

Austin only cares about one thing in life:
 1. Music.

Except Austin’s rockstar dreams never came true, and the bottom of the bottle isn’t giving him the answers he’s searching for.

But maybe, just maybe, a prickly Shade with a secret wild side will.

Other books in the series:
Luxuria * Superbia

Gula by Colette Rhodes

My Two Cents

The love story of Austin and Selene was very different from the books that preceded it. For one, the ex-hunter who never hunted was male. Secondly, there was no instalust or instant connection of any kind. Their meet-cute WAS NOT very cute at all and Austin had a bad impression to make up for. And third, the heat didn't exist for MOST of this story.

These differences allowed the characters to develop a unique relationship. Selene was very set in her ways, living a regimented, sheltered life, with no real companionship or feeling of belonging. And Austin was very mellow, easy to like, and could fit in anywhere. They were very different from each other, but at their core, the author illustrated that they had more in common than either of them realized.

I loved how they drew out the best of each other. Austin got Selene to open up more, to share her true self with him and she inspired him to take life and himself more seriously. It was wonderful to watch how things between them grew out of trust and friendship and became exactly what both of them needed.

I'm enjoying the heck out of learning more about Shades and the hunters that love them. I'm really excited to continue this series!!

The Author

Colette Rhodes is a huge fan of paranormal romance and reverse harem books. They're what she loves to read and what she loves to write. #WhyChoose, right?

Colette studied both History and Ancient History at university and loves including both historical facts and ancient mythology in her work.

When she's not writing, you'll find her spending time with her husband and daughter in beautiful New Zealand.

Visit for more information

What to Read Weekend

November 03, 2023

Fridays used to be about books on sale, and while this post will have freebies and the like, I also want to share the romance reads of the week that I'm currently excited about. You know the ones... you're already deep in your to-read list and ANOTHER week of new releases are dumped in your lap. Yep, that's me... each and every week. So here's what I want to read, what I plan to buy, and hopefully you find something to enjoy in there too!

New Releases

Upcoming Releases

Nov.7 ~   Iron Flame (The Empyrean #2) by Rebecca Yarros
Nov. 8 ~   His Wicked Ways (The Wickeds: Dark Knights at Bayside #5) by Melissa Foster
Nov. 11 ~   The Bone Collector (The Watch #1) by Onley James
Nov. 14 ~   Metatron (Elyon's Warriors #4) by Eve Langlais
Nov. 17 ~   King of Death (Folk #3) by Lily Mayne
Nov. 21 ~   Clown Motel (Welcome to the Circus #4) by Lani Lynn Vale
Nov. 28 ~   Born to be Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles #5) by Shelly Laurenston
Nov. 28 ~   Consort of Fire (Bound to Fire and Steel #1) by Kit Rocha

Books on Sale (all under $2)

These are books I've read or am going to buy...

So what are your reading plans for this weekend?