Contemporary Romance

Review: Open House by Ruby Lang


Author: Ruby Lang
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance
Release Date: 11 Nov 2019

Author links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 3,5 Stars


Love can take root where you least expect it.

Tyson Yang never imagined that one day he’d be the de facto spokesperson for an illegal community garden. But when the once-rat-infested-but-now-thriving Harlem lot goes up for sale, Ty can’t just let all their hard work get plowed under.

Even if he is irresistibly drawn to the lovely but infuriatingly stubborn real estate associate.

Magda Ferrer’s family is already convinced this new job will be yet another flop in her small but growing list of career path failures. But her student debt isn’t going anywhere, and selling her uncle’s historic town house and the lot nearby means a chance to get some breathing room.

Ty is her charming rival, her incorrigible nemesis, the handsome roadblock to her success.

Until one hot Harlem night blurs the hard line drawn between them, and the seeds of possibility in this rocky garden blossom into love…


It was a nice, somewhat subdued city romance. I loved the focus on community, coupled with some interesting and very real family dynamics. I  liked how none of the characters are perfect, they have their strengths and weakness and makes mistakes but learn from them. It's not some preachy story, rather, it's about kindness and supporting, uplifting each other. 

It's very much focused on unlikely friendships and love connections. all about building, something, creating. I liked seeing the heroine acting like an adult, dealing with very real issues of dealing with dept, struggling professionally. While I loved seeing her as a newbie in her job, I never felt like she settled properly in her job. It never read to me like being a real estate agent was her dream job and despite being good at it, it never felt properly satisfactory to her. I have mixed feelings about this to be honest. Lots of people do a job that they are good at without loving it, but still I would have preferred to see her happier/more optimistic about her career choice. 

It's a true enemies-to-lovers, they were literally at the opposite sides of the fence. There was no real hate though, both understood the position of the other. Lots of angst there and a feel-good, working resolution of the conflict. 

While I liked the overall writing, I wanted more character development, stronger connection between the MCs, more focus on their romantic relationship. I didn’t really buy the whole plotline with her uncle and his neighbour/classmate. It seemed far-fetched and at odds with the very real, down-to-earth feel of the rest of the book. 

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Review: Headliners by Lucy Parker


Title: Headliners (London Celebrities #5)
Author: Lucy Parker
Genre / Themes: Romance / TV presenters/ British
Release date: 20 Jan 2020

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Goodreads

My rating: 5 Stars


He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.


This is another great installment in the London Celebrities series. It works as standalone but we see a lot of the MCs in the previous book, the Austen Playbook, so I would recommend reading it before you pick up  Headliners (and all the previous books while you are at it :)

Lucy Parker's writing is outstanding as usual, the many laugh out loud funny moments were unexpected but highly appreciated. A very moving enemies to lovers romance, two professionals in a rough place, forced to work together to save their careers.

I found the main conflict believable, their animosity and dislike felt real and I was convinced in their growth as people which led them to see each other in a different light. The simmering physical attraction between them had always been there but the needed to be ready to admit it to themselves and act on it. His regret was heart-felt, came after deep soul searching and facing some inconvenient truths about who he was/ was becoming. She had heavy family issues to to deal with, and ex-partner who kept causing problems.

It's a fast paced story, a minor suspense plot and lots of holiday feels, sense of family and togetherness. It all felt natural, they way their families were present in their lives. I loved seeing him staying friends with his ex (and he new husband). The complexity of the relationship between siblings, parents was very interesting for me to read.

Some of the plot twists towards the end felt over the top. The "baddy" got their dues but felt too contrived and didn't fit with with character in my opinion. I am purposefully vague because here because I want to avoid spoilers.

Highly recommended read!

CW: loss of a parent (in the past), grief, minor incidents

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My Favourite Books of 2019


Here is a list of ten books (including full series I read in 2019), romance and fantasy which I read and loved in the past year. I tweeted out those in December under the hashtag #myfavebooks2019.

1/ To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, YA fantasy retelling of the Little Mermaid. I was gifted this book for the holidays by a dear friend and I absolutely loved it. A beautifully written powerful story about good and evil. Buy on Amazon

2/ Kiss and Cry by Mina V. Esguerra, contemporary sports romance, heroine is an former figure skater, hero is a retiring hockey player, both living in the Philippines where winter sports are very popular. I loved the different aspect of sports we see in this story and the second-chance, low-angst romance. Read my review / Buy on Amazon

3/ Teach Me by Olivia Dade is a warm hug of a book. Contemporary romance with two high school teacher MCs, a fat Ice Queen heroine and a shy divorced dad hero. So much care and support and appreciation this book! Read my review / Buy on Amazon

4/ The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker. Her books consistently work great for me but this one is really outstanding - the grumpiest but most caring hero, the moist sunshine heroine to ever sunshine, a bit of historical subplot, some cozy mystery elements.Read my review / Buy on Amazon

5/ Gilded Cage by KJ Charles is an exquisite historical m/f second chance romance with a bi heroine. I loved everything about it - the romance, the MCs, the crime plot, the HEA. Read my review / Buy on Amazon

6/ The Mysterious Stranger by Ainslie Paton - an intense romantic suspense, childhood friends to lovers. Great rep on gaslighting and emotional manipulation. Modern Robin Hood kind of families. Works as standalone. Read my review / Buy on Amazon

7/ Arden St. Ives series by Alexis Hall this year after the release of the final book and it's definitely one of #myfavbooks2019. High heat, high emotion, coming of age, overcoming trauma, finding oneself, effortlessly and quintessentially queer! Read my review / Buy on Amazon

8/ The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E. Harrow is a portal fantasy with an awesome female protagonist, a debut book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I read more SFF in 2019 I have ever done before and this is one of the best I read. Read my review/ Buy on Amazon

9/ The Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh. A breath-stopping first thriller by this author, very atmospheric, great heroine. I had some issues with the final resolution but very much liked the rest of the book. Buy on Amazon

10/ Folk of Air series by Holly Black. It's a YA fantasy series which I picked on a friends' recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved book 2 the best and found book 3 the weakest of all but overall the whole trilogy is outstanding, captivating tale of magic and love and power and finding oneself. Highly recommend it. Buy on Amazon 

Honourable mentions: Thrown to the Wolves, m/m shifter murder mystery romance by Charlie Adhara; The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, queer fantasy riff of Sherlock Holmes by Alexis Hall; Thirsty, m/f (ex) gangster romance by Mia Hopkins.

January 2020

January 2020 Releases


I am starting a new feature where at the end of the month I will do a spotlight post with the next month's releases I am excited to read. I will be sharing it on Twitter as well and in the months when I have already read and review an ARC of an upcoming title I will be linking to my review. This is similar to the EuroRomTalk newsletter we did with a couple of friends in 2019 but sadly, we will not be continuing it in 2020. I am focusing only on titles I am interested in reading, it's mostly romance but there is also SFF as I started reading more of it in 2019 and plan and want to continue in that direction. For a much wider list of upcoming romance releases check out The Book Queen's site.

Off the Record by Rebecca Crowley. This is the final book in a trilogy of contemporary m./f romances featuring three brothers trying to run a newspaper. I love this author’s football series, and I decided to try this as well. The first book didn’t really work for me but the second was much better and I am looking forward to this one with hope and trepidation. Out on 16 Jan. Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

Headliners by Lucy Parker. I have read and loved everything Lucy Parker has written and I am currently reading and loving this one too. It’s enemies to lovers between two rival TV presenters (whom we met in the Austen Playbook). Out on 20 Jan. Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday. First book in a new series of contemporary romance. I enjoyed her Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series and I am curious about her next project. Out on 28 Jan. Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

Whiteout by Adriana Anders. Romance suspense set in Alaska. I admit I am intrigued by the setting and I haven’t read a romantic suspense in ages so I am looking forward to this. I have loved some of this authors books, others have been a complete miss for me, so I am cautiously intrigued. Out on 28 Jan. Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

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