Romance Review Roundup: Vol. 11

Making Up by Lucy Parker (London Celebrities #3)

Publisher: Carina Press on May 28, 2018

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around.

Although Trix Lane left her emotionally abusive ex months ago, the wounds from that relationship haven’t yet healed. A talented and daring aerial performer, Trix was once a shining star on the London scene, surely headed for greatness. But now her confidence is shot and she struggles to pull off tricks that she’s had mastered for years. When she finally gets her chance to be in the spotlight, will the arrival of her former friend turned enemy Leo Magasiva harm her chances…or bring her to new heights?

Leo is a giant teddy bear, emphasis on the word giant. As a former athlete who’s head and shoulders taller than most people, Leo’s quite self-conscious about how intimidating he can be, especially towards women. He comes across as a bit of a grump but really the guy’s got a gooey center, especially when it comes to Trix. This odd couple has a history, but it’s revealed slowly so I won’t spoil it except to say that it just makes their romance even sweeter. And shout out to the first PoC main character in the London Celebrities series! I’m hoping to see more of them as it continues.

I think MAKING UP is one of Parker’s most romantic, sensitive books to date. Leo’s insecurities about his size and the way it often intimidates people was really well handled, and Parker’s portrayal of Trix’s anxiety and panic attacks is also beautifully done. I really appreciate that falling in love with Leo doesn’t auto-cure Trix. Instead, the pair discuss her anxiety and work to manage it together. That’s what real romance is all about to me.

Lucy Parker is one of the most talented, consistent, and underrated contemporary romance authors in the game right now. If you’re looking for lovable characters, amazing banter, and nuanced relationships, then you need to read her books!


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (The Kiss Quotient #1)

Publisher: Berkley on June 5, 2018

Source: Gifted ARC (thanks, Nick!)

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane is a brilliant econometrician, but she’s not exactly stellar in the romance and sex department. That’s why she decides to hire an escort, one Michael Phan, to give her lessons in intimacy. Stella’s not looking for a relationship and Michael knows better than to fall for a client, but as they get closer, the two find they have a lot more in common than they would’ve guessed. The only way this adventure won’t go terribly wrong is if it goes perfectly right…

And reader, it does. Helen Hoang has a total hit on her hands with THE KISS QUOTIENT, a sweet, tender, hot romance about two people who’ve always struggled to fit in. Hoang writes about Stella’s aspergers and Michael’s sex work with sensitivity, frankness, and clear eyes. No stereotyping or sensationalism here!

Michael Phan is legitimately the sexiest, most swoon-worthy dude I’ve read about in recent memory. The patience, understanding, and kindness that he shows Stella — and everyone around him — is too rare in romance heroes. He’s gorgeous and charismatic, but his smooth confidence hides some deep-seated insecurities about whether anyone would want him for more than his body. Throw in his creative side (the guy makes custom suits and gowns, for god’s sake!) and he is irresistible.

Stella certainly thinks so. Sex, trying new things, public displays of affection…all the things she normally hates about dating are great when she does them with Michael, a great guy who likes her for who she is. Go figure, right? As much as I adore Michael, Stella is the star of the show for me. She’s vulnerable, brilliant, and tough in her own way. Her passion for econometrics shines through in this story, so much so that she almost made me like math. Me. Like math. Y’all. Do yourself a favour and buy THE KISS QUOTIENT as soon as you can!


Ocean Light by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling Trinity #2)

Publisher: Berkley on June 12, 2018

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love…

I’m sorry to say it, but OCEAN LIGHT was kind of a disappointing read for me. After adoring the first book in this Psy-Changeling spin-off/continuation series, SILVER SILENCE, I was sure I’d love this one too. But the change in tone, character archetypes, and tropes meant that this story didn’t work for me nearly as well as the previous one.

After the assassination attempt that left him fatally wounded, human security expert Bowen Knight is airlifted to the BlackSea changeling base to undergo experimental cardiac and neurosurgeries. Helping him despite her fear and distrust of humans is Kaia Luna, BlackSea Changeling and scientist-turned-cook. Bo’s taken with the beautiful and enigmatic woman immediately, trying everything he can think of to prove that not all humans are dangerous to Changelings. If the experiment doesn’t take, the chip in Bowen’s brain that prevents telepathic manipulation by the Psy will kill him before he has the chance…

Although I liked Kaia and Bowen as characters, their romance fell flat for me. There’s some serious insta-love going on, and I confess that I found myself rolling my eyes quite a bit at just how quickly they fall for each other and the grandiose declarations they made. I get that Kaia’s a Changeling so mate bonding is a thing, but I thought Singh handled it way better in SILVER SILENCE than she did here. Bo and Kaia’s love for one another was sweet but rather abrupt for my liking.

I am enjoying the overarching plot of the series so far. Who’s the shadowy group know as the Consortium, and why are they trying to sabotage the Trinity of Psy, Changeling, and human efforts? If you’ve been keen to try Singh’s Psy-Changeling series but you’re intimidated by its length, I recommend giving this series a try. If you’ve not read the original series, some major plot elements will be spoiled, but that hasn’t impacted my excitement to go back and read the first Psy-Changeling books!

Have you read any of these books? How do you feel about insta-love in romance? Let me know in the comments below!

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26 thoughts on “Romance Review Roundup: Vol. 11

  1. I want to read Nalini Singh books at some point and oh my god, I loved that Michael is a tailor. It was so interesting to see him in his work clothes and just gaaah, how refreshing! And true, Stella also almost made me like math haha. It’s such a good book!

    1. I saw your GR review of Slave to Sensation and it’s making me want to start reading Singh’s original Psy-Changeling books! Michael’s tailoring skills were next-level. Why can’t my guy make me a custom-designed gown???? 😂Stella is the best. I’m excited to see what else Hoang does with her autism rep, since it seems like at least one other character in the series will be on the spectrum.

  2. I am pretty excited to see the books you 5-starred, because I have copies of both of them. I actually have Making Up on my TBR this week. I love Parker and I adore this series.

  3. The Kiss Quotient looks pretty good! It sounds different than I was expecting but in a good way? And a debut too? Nice. It still won’t make me like math tho… 🙂

  4. Ooh an aerialist! And aww, Leo sounds like a sweetheart. I love grumpy characters with gooey centers. Sounds like the mental illness was handled well too.

    Michael sounds great too! How are you finding so many great love interests?! 😛 But Stella also sounds great. And again, it sounds like topics that could’ve been done poorly were handled well.

    Yeah, when things change too much from book to book in a series, it can be a problem.

    1. Right? How cool is it that Trix is an aerialist? That’s something I’ve always wanted to try. Oh yes, the anxiety rep is on point. And Leo is an adorable grump! <3

      I don't know how I'm finding all these great love interests, but I hope it never stops! LOL. Michael and Stella are both such stand-out characters, and Hoang did a commendable job portraying their respective situations.

      Yeah, I agree. That's the tricky thing about UF/PNR series that follow different characters in each book, I think. Certain characters will inevitably work better for some people than they will for others!

  5. These all sound good but I’m a PNR girl at heart so I’m sad to see the second Psy-Changeling spin-off was somewhat of a disappointment. I can handle insta-love if the characters are very dynamic and the situation lends to it.

    1. I have a soft spot for PNR too, and I ADORED book 1 in the Psy-Changeling spinoff, so I’m hopeful for the rest of the series! I think this is just a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” None of the tropes or character archetypes were really my thing. Fingers crossed you enjoy it more than I did, Kim!

  6. The Kiss Quotient is one of my favorite books of 2018 so far – so well-written, lovely and wow, the characters stole my heart! I’m sad Ocean Light didn’t really work for you – but also laughing because we’re kind of opposites. Silver Silence was a disappointment for me, while I found this much better. I could have done without the insta-love, but I was okay with it, because it made sense with Bowen only having a short amount of time to live.

    Great reviews! 🙂

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. Me too, Veronika! I’d heard lots of buzz about The Kiss Quotient and I was excited to read it, but I had no idea just how much I’d love it. OMG really? Hahaha that is surprising! I think it’s inevitable that certain books won’t work as well for some readers in a series like Psy-Changeling and its spinoff just because of how much variation there is from book to book. Here’s hoping we both love the third book! 😉

      Thank you!

  7. I would like to read more romance books actually – get some more lighter stuff in my reading life. I need a break from the heavy fantasy every now and then. I do still want to try the Hidden Legacy series first though (I know it’s UF PNR but still!!!!) but The Kiss Quotient REALLY sounds amazing. I loved your review of it.

  8. I absolutely LOVED The Kiss Quotient! It’s easily one of my favorite books this year. I enjoyed Stella and Michael’s relationship and how it started in a very unconventional way. They both have to get over their insecurities in order to make a relationship work, and I liked that her Asperger’s was never a problem for him. He wanted her exactly the way she was. Oh, and I wanted to kick her co-worker in the balls. What. A. JERK.

    L @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. TKQ is getting so much love and all of it is 100% deserved, in my opinion! It’s definitely a favourite for me too. The way that the two of them accept each other was so beautiful, and I really appreciated that neither of them is expected to change. Michael only changes his work because he wants to, not because Stella expects it. And the fact that Stella learns to accept and love her Asperger’s? So awesome.

      OMG YES, Stella’s coworker (name escapes me, I just call him the d-bag in my mind) was the worst. I was pretty pleased when he got his butt kicked, hahaha.

  9. Lucy Parker is a very underrated autor and I don’t kow how she isn’t huge because her books are amaizing. Your review for what makes Making Up amazing was way better than mine. It was just a pwoerful amazing read and I was rooting for Trix and Leo every step of the way.

    And The Kiss Quotient! I read this one recently (and I am more than psyched it’s free on Amazon right now in the UK so I’m telling everyone else to get to it too). I fell head over heels for the sweet cinnamon bun that was Michael but I’m with you, Stella was the girl who was the star of the show. She was amazing and I fully respected Michael for how well he approached her. He was so understanding. I was fully invested in Stella’s story. I was amazed at all the things I learnt about women with autism as well, who knew? It was very interesting to read.

    Sorry to hear the latest Psy/Changling spin off book didn’t meet expectations. I loved the first couple ( and am now attempting to slowly read the whole series since a couple of the books are on my AAR romance challenge) but in a series like this one there’s bound to be some that just don’t meet the usual high standards. It just sucks this was one of them.

    1. Disqus ate my first reply to you which is annoying because it was an ESSAY, let me tell ya. LP is absolutely underrated. I feel like she deserves Jill Shalvis levels of recognition in terms of contemporary romance (they write very different stuff but you get what I mean). Trix and Leo are so cute together and such amazing characters separately. I’ve heard that there’s been a bit of a switch up with the London Celebrities books so I’m not sure which couple we’re getting next…but whoever it is, I’m excited!

      TKQ is everything, Becky. Everything. I loved it so much that I actually lent a copy to my mum, despite how porn-y it is. Let’s hope she’s not too scandalized. 😂Michael is great but I’m so glad to see another Stella lover like me! I loved seeing her come into her own, and her journey to self-love and acceptance was so inspiring and important. The fact that she realized whoever she ended up with had to love all of her, including her Apserger’s, had me pumping my fist in triumph for her!

      GAH I have got to read the original Psy-Changeling books! I’ve heard great things. The first book in the spinoff was amaaaaazing (it hit all the right trope-y notes for me) but for some reason I didn’t review it. I agree, a PNR series that follows a ton of different couples and species pairings is going to have some books that aren’t a hit for every reader…Ocean Light was that for me. I’ve got high hopes for the next book, though!

      1. Damn you disqus and your comment eating ways. You’re not string any argument from me. I wish LPs books had a wider print run because of gift all of my friends copies of her books if they did. There has been a switch up n book order which I was a little annoyed by because I was seriously interested in the initial next one but now Freddy from Pretty Face gets her own book and I loved her so I’m totally cool with the switch up.

        My review for TKQ me ght get written soon because I need to join the flailing for that book. And nope not alone in the Stella love she was amazing. I loved that she was the one with the money and the power in that relationship in a lot of ways it was so well done. Hoang needs to have her next book out already!

        I’m on book 2 of the original Psy-Changling books and so far so good. They’re books I have to be in the right mood for cos PNR can be hit or miss when I’m not in the mood for reading. Somehow they work and there is an overarching storyline with each book too which I love because it’s got something extra to keep me reading.

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