Book Reviews

Romance Reads to Keep You Warm

I know you may all be coming to the end of your capacity and super stressed for the holidays. So I decided to put together this romance read list for books you just want to fall into. Keep reading for mini book reviews of Plot Twist, Wrapped with a Beau, Playing for Keeps, One Tough Cookie, and Deliver Me.

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Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa

She’s written off more than she can chew…

Romance author Sophie Lyon’s ironic secret just went she’s never been in love—and it’s ruining her reputation. With a manuscript deadline looming, Sophie makes an ambitious plan to overcome her writer’s reunite with her exes (including her last girlfriend Carla, the one person she could have loved) to learn why she’s never fallen in love, and document it all for her millions of new online followers.

Luckily, Sophie’s reclusive landlord, Dash Montrose—a former teen heartthrob—has social media all figured out and is willing to help. What he doesn’t mention is that he’s an anonymous online crafter, a hobby that helps him maintain his sobriety. No one knows about his complicated relationship with alcohol, and with a family that’s Hollywood royalty, Dash has to steer clear of scandal.

As Sophie and Dash grow closer, they discover a heat between them that rivals Dash’s pottery kiln. But Sophie needs to figure out who she is outside her relationships, and Dash isn’t sure he’s stable enough for the commitment she deserves. So Sophie suggests what any good romance author a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Surely a strictly casual relationship won’t cause any trouble…


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I can never resist a friend with benefits situation where you know from the beginning there’s going to be something more. This is one of my favorite romance tropes and Plot Twist does it so well. I knew I was going to love Dash, who wouldn’t love someone who is on crafttok, loaded with family secrets, and trying to also focus on himself. Whereas Sophie is kind of a mess, we love her, but she’s at a very low point in her life where she knows something has to change.

I really enjoyed For Butter or For Worse, but that’s got nothing on Plot Twist. While the chemistry is sizzling and there, what I loved were the character developments. This romance story delves into addiction, recovery, and relationships. It’s about not running from the hard conversations and how brave you have to be to be honest with who you love, and yourself. To find our fears and have the difficult talks to figure out how we can work with them, through them, and not let them control our lives. While the ending felt a tad hasty considering the lead up, Plot Twist enveloped me and I loved reading it! Find Plot Twist on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Wrapped with a Beau by Lillie Vale

As a successful film liaison, Elisha Rowe has her heart set on one thing and one thing only: putting her hometown back on the map. So, when she gets the chance to secure a sequel to Sleighbells, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, that includes claiming to have already secured permission to film at the historic Christmas house—permission she was very much denied by the gorgeous new owner.

Ves Hollins is only back in Piney Peaks long enough to sell the house he inherited from his great-aunt. The holidays have always been tough for Ves, and it’s not any easier when he’s distracted by memories of a Christmas long, long ago, and the undeniable charm of neighbor Elisha. Ready to return home to New York as quickly as possible, he has no plans to put down roots or fall in love…even if Elisha unravels his hesitations like a bad Christmas sweater. 

There’s no question the two are oppposites in every way. Ves is unquestionably frosty. Elisha is brimming with warmth. He doesn’t do commitment. She never runs from a challenge. But as the two grow closer, they quickly realize that the growing spark between them may be just what the season calls for.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I am a huge Lillie Vale fan. Maybe because we share the same first name – albeit with different spellings. But Wrapped with a Beau is spicy and swoony. It’s my favorite of Vale’s adult romances and it’s a holiday one too so perfect for the upcoming season. We love a good disaster meet cute and getting caught maybe breaking into a house? That may just take the cake. We also hate when an ex shows up determined to have ‘changed’ and entirely wrapped up in showing off. So you know I fell in love with Wrapped with a Beau.

It’s also got a vibe of grumpy and sunshine meets Hallmark. Wrapped with a Beau is supremely fun and I would recommend for those wanting a Christmas romance. With fake dating – again we hate the ex – this book is about families which love us, which drive us up the walls, and which don’t see us for who we are. Vale’s romance examines what happens when we have our dreams, and what people expect, and we want to go off script. Find Wrapped with a Beau on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Playing for Keeps by Tristen Crone

Farren puts on a good front, feigning confidence despite literally not fitting into society’s narrow ideas of beauty and success. Inside, she’s stuck, afraid to put herself and her ideas out there, especially the board game design she’s kept a secret. She keeps things light and temporary-both at work as a substitute teacher and in her relationships.

Overworked Sebastian abhors anything that gets in the way of his goals, including procuring the perfect pastry. The two meet when Sebastian accuses her of stealing his pastry in an amusing and awkward café incident. When Farren gets in the way of his coffee order with her huge personality she turns out to be even more than he bargained for.

Instead of shrinking beneath his usually intimidating stare, Farren issues a challenge back: take a second away from his phone calendar with its down-to-the-minute scheduling and play her for it-live a little. If Sebastian wins the board game battle he gets to keep his precious croissant, if she wins he has to join their game night next week.

Just who will be the victor in this game of love ?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Playing for Keeps is one of those books which allows characters to grow. For Farren and Sebastian both of them have things they have to learn. Farren has to realize she has to speak up about what she wants, to not hide in her fears and for Sebastian he needs to learn not to be so carried away with the grand capital G goal. The thing we think will make us happy at the end of the day. So together they have a lot to learn and while my feelings towards Sebastian are hit and miss, I really loved Farren.

I am a huge fan of board games, so you know this was right up my alley. Not to mention I loved everything about Farren’s POV. I loved that Playing for Keeps talks about friendships that need to either grow with us, or not. That we can’t always be the same and friends have growth spurts too. I also loved her character arc in the ways she has to see her own value. For the beginning I did enjoy Sebastian – and maybe saw pieces of myself in him – but in the latter half he lost me and I became the Farren exclusive hype wagon.

If you love board games and romance stories, characters who need to grow and see themselves, I think you should pick this one up. Find Playing for Keeps on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Deliver Me by Ashley Hawthorne

She’s a pastor’s daughter. He’s a convicted killer. Forever may be out of reach when she falls in love with one of the dangerous ones. Faith is more than just a word to Mia Anderson. It’s the foundation of her life as a pastor’s daughter. At home in her church and at peace with her beliefs, she decides to participate in a program to send letters to inmates regardless of what sins they may have committed.

Gabriel Myers is a convicted criminal, serving life in prison for his father’s murder. Facing a hopeless future and haunted by a past that has left him full of contempt for God and the church, he wants nothing to do with Mia until she proves she can understand the man everyone believes is a monster. With each letter that’s exchanged, Mia becomes more aware that although Gabriel has never denied his crime, there is more to the story than the jury was allowed to hear. As reluctant friendship turns to seemingly ill-fated love, she knows she must convince him to appeal the verdict.

Dealing with the Texas justice system is a long shot, but the only chance they have to finally be together outside the walls of Gabriel’s prison. Winning his freedom will give them a chance at happiness but can they finally find bliss in each other’s arms or will the challenges they face and their divergent beliefs destroy their love for good?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Deliver Me is about love and forgiveness. It explores the harshness of the justice system in the United States and how a failure in it can haunt us forever. The realities, indignities, and injustice. At the same time, it’s a romance story about strength and our own voice. For Mia to realize she has a voice and can speak up about what she wants. And for Gabriel to reclaim his voice, one that was silenced by the abuse and what the system has done to him.

Deliver Me is about someone who we can show the sadness, anger, and resentment. And someone who isn’t content to just know the front we put out to the world. If you love redemption arcs and second chances, then this is for you. It focuses on the hard work we have to do in order to feel worthy, to feel strong, and to realize that both of these may be different than what we are taught. Find Deliver Me on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

One Tough Cookie by Delise Torres

All cookies are made with love—even if twenty-seven-year-old Karina Cortés doesn’t believe in the concept. For her, a simple life with no attachments is a good life. And her life is indeed good—even with her biggest accomplishment being passing the GED exam. Karina is able to secure an incredible and well-paying job at Singular Cookies, Inc., a small family-owned cookie manufacturing plant in Fort Pierce, Florida. And although the founders of the company treat her like family, Karina insists she doesn’t need or want one. Not after her mother chose a man over her own daughter, pushing the young Karina to move out and make it on her own.

And she couldn’t be happier with her single life, unlike her friends, whose lives revolve around men.

Work and play collide when she meets the company’s hot new mechanic, Ian Feliciano, who stirs up feelings she tends to avoid. Karina knows she shouldn’t date him, but she’s strong; she’ll never turn pathetic like her friends or, especially, her mom. And with a looming plant inspection and trying to break up the CEO’s new romance, Karina has enough to distract herself.

As the inspection draws near and Karina battles her heart, she’ll have to decide whether to continue holding on to deeply ingrained beliefs that keep everyone at bay, or learn that love is not as dangerous as she fears and in the end, it is our history—our singular recipe—that shapes how we live.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

One Tough Cookie is unapologetic. Karina believes love makes people weak. She thinks all her friends who are in love are compromising themselves and this extends also to her mother. And so because of that she never wants to be in love, never wants to rely on anyone. But over the course of One Tough Cookie she realizes how lonely that path is. How we can find someone who doesn’t ask us to be anyone than who we are. It’s a hard journey for her to lean and she makes a lot of mistakes on the way.

She pushes people away and is averse to change, wanting everyone to stay the same. In One Tough Cookie Karina begins to feel her own isolation and to realize that accepting love isn’t weak it’s strength. It’s embracing when we need a helping hand, when we just want a soft place to land, it’s about showing someone who we are and them not running. We can be an individual and be in a relationship, they’re not mutually exclusive.

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea – certainly based on reviews – but if you’re interested in a messy relatable character who runs and are invested in a story about character development, check this out. Find One Tough Cookie on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What romance book do you want to end 2023 on?

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