Most Likely to Succeed (Jennifer Echols)

Most Likely to Succeed is the third novel in the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols.
Finished on: 3.9.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Content Note: racism

Plot:
Kaye has always been a high achiever, just like her boyfriend Aiden. They are both on the student council (he as president, she as vice-president) and it will be a close call who of the both of them will become valedictorian. In any case, they will apply for Columbia together and their life is pretty much laid out from there. Only that recently Kaye hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Sawyer, bad boy, class clown with a difficult family history and an uncertain future – in short, the complete opposite of Aiden. As circumstances – and friends – keep pushing them together and they become ever more flirtatious, Kaye starts to question the plans for her life.

Most Likely to Succeed, or rather Kaye and Sawyer as a couple, have been teased since book one in the series, so there was some anticipation on how things would play out, and I have to say that it was fine, but it didn’t blow me away, unfortunately.

The book cover showing a Black girl sitting on a chair with a white boy striking an exaggerated pose behind her.
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Try Me Again (Clare Lydon)

Try Me Again is a novella by Clare Lydon.
Finished on: 2.9.2022

Plot:
Caitlin was supposed to be on a plane out of London and into a new life. But unfortunately, life had other plans, namely a lockdown because of Corona. Trapped in London with no place to stay anymore, she turns to the only person she can think of: her ex-girlfriend Dot. The girlfriend she just broke up with to start her new life. Dot is, understandably, not happy about the situation and about having Caitlin on her couch, but she gives in. And maybe, the global crisis will put the personal one into a new light?

Try Me Again is a cute quick read, almost more of a short story than a novella. While I do think it could have been fleshed out a little more, it is enjoyable.

The book cover showing a padlock with two hearts in front of a blurry seascape.
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Storm Echo (Nalini Singh)

Storm Echo is the sixth novel of the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series (or the 21st novel of the Psy-Changeling Series) by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 21.8.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the Psy-Changeling series.]

Content Note: drug abuse/addiction, child abuse/neglect

Plot:
Ivan Mercant is a security specialist, making it his business to prepare for every eventuality. But he couldn’t prepare for running into an intriguing changeling in the woods while on a training. He and Lei spend beautiful days together, but after Ivan tells Lei about a dangerous, always hungry part of his abilities that he can probably not keep in check forever, Lei fails to make their meeting. Devastated, Ivan accepts her decision to stay away, even after he finds her gravely injured in an attack – and loses track of her again. But when they run into each other a third time, this time with Lei in a bad state, including partial memory less that means she can’t actually remember him, and on a mission to kill the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack, neither Ivan, nor Lei’s cat half are willing to let go of each other.

Storm Echo not only has a lovely couple in Lei and Ivan, it also pushes the overarching plot forward quite a bit, balancing the comforting tropiness of the series with exciting new developments and making it very satisfying to read.

The book cover showing the face of a man with blue eyes in front of a starry sky.
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I Love You Just the Way You Are (Riley Rian)

I Love You Just the Way You Are is the first novel in the Rock Canyon series by Riley Rian.
Finished on: 18.8.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia

Plot:
Maddie wants to spend her summer working at the café in peace before school starts again, where she will return after a home-schooling break during her transition. But her peace is short-lived when star-quaterback Kellan starts coming to the café – and tries to hit on Maddie. It’s not that Maddie hasn’t been dreaming about Kellan forever, but she is worried: does he even know that she is trans? And if not, what will he think when he finds out? And anyway, he has a reputation of having a new girl every week. So she rather blows him off than flirt. But Kellan doesn’t give up so easily. Or at all.

I Love You Just the Way You Are is wonderful when it comes to trans representation, but I struggled a little with Kellan as the romantic lead. Still, despite being a bit of a bumpy read, it is almost compulsively readable and has its heart in its right place.

The book cover showing a painting of young girl sitting on a skateboard.
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Night Race (Ashley R. King)

Night Race is the second novel in the Vampire Reality Show series by Ashley R. King.
Finished on: 13.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
Theo has been a vampire for over 300 years, but she is done with being one. She wants to taste food again and enjoy the sun. There is only one way to become human again, though, and that is a magical chalice that has just been announced as the big prize for the winner of Night Race, a reality TV show where contestants race around the world and complete challenges. Theo has been accepted as a contestant, as has Aiden who is human, but wants to use the chalice to become a vampire and avenge the death of his fiancée. Instead of fighting for themselves, though, the contestants are surprisingly paired. Theo and Aiden are teamed up and can barely bring themselves to work together, despite the fact that they are drawn to each other. But then contestants around them start dying and things become very serious indeed.

Night Race is a page-turner, but I have to admit that I didn’t love the turn the series took in this one, moving further and further away from the Reality TV angle that I find the most intriguing bit about it. How much you’ll enjoy it, will probably depend on how much you like this change.

The book cover showing a woman being hugged from behind by a man. Both are wearing leather jackets.
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Perfect Couple (Jennifer Echols)

Perfect Couple is the second novel in the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols.
Finished on: 10.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Plot:
Yearbook photographer and introvert Harper can’t believe it when the voting results for the senior year superlatives come in and she won “Perfect Couple That Never Was” with star quarterback Brody. Who would ever think to pair the two of them together when they couldn’t be any more different? But once the thought is out there, Harper can’t help but consider Brody. This is only made more awkward by the fact that they are both dating other people. Well, more or less. Harper’s boyfriend Kennedy is constantly picking fights with her, and Brody likes to keep things casual. But as the two of them try to figure out what exactly their class had been thinking and how to take the obligatory photo for the yearbook, they discover that people may have been onto something with them.

Perfect Couple was a superquick read (half a day of being out sick from work and I was done), and a very sweet one. I think I might have been a tad more in love with Biggest Flirts, the first novel in the series, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of this one.

The book cover showing a girl holding up a camera for a selfie with a guy who stands behind her.
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Wrapped (Rebekah Weatherspoon)

Wrapped is a novella connected to the Fit Trilogy by Rebekah Weatherspoon.
Finished on: 31.7.2022

Plot:
Shae hasn’t been divorced for very long and getting back out into the dating world is not exactly easy, despite the various apps. Especially while running her own bakery. When she matches with Aidan, a very hot former colleague, it seems that her Christmas wish for a good date is finally granted. But one date soon turns into many more and maybe things are moving a bit too fast for Shae who is still nursing her wounds from the divorce.

Wrapped is a fluffy bit of writing that was thoroughly enjoyable (despite me reading this Christmas novella in July). The bit of conflict in it wasn’t quite paced right, but other than that I have no complaints.

The book cover showing a man in a Santa costume. The shirt is open, revealing a very fit upper body.
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Rebel Hard (Nalini Singh)

Rebel Hard is the second novel in the Hard Play series by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 30.7.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
Nayna has always been the good daughter, unlike her sister. Nayna even agreed to a traditional arranged marriage. But now that her parents are starting to set her up with men, Nayna starts having doubts about this. She decides to throw caution into the wind and allow herself one night of adventure with her best friend Ísa. Together, they had to a party where Nayna meets the most gorgeous man ever, Raj. Before their steamy make-out session leads to something more, Nayna inadvertently insults Raj and runs away. Only to meet Raj again the next day when her parents introduce him as a possible fiancé for her. The two of them are sure that they are wrong for each other, and they both have started to have serious doubts about wanting an arranged marriage altogether. But somehow, they can’t stay away from each other.

Rebel Hard was a fine read that I liked a little better than Cherish Hard (the first novel in the series), though not quite as much as I thought I would, given that the glimpses we got of NAyna and Raj were my favorite bits of that book. Still, I enjoyed it.

The book cover showing a topless brown man in front of a brick wall and a mandala design.
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Biggest Flirts (Jennifer Echols)

Biggest Flirts is the first novel in the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols.
Finished on: 29.7.2022

Plot:
Tia has a very clear idea of what she wants, and that is no responsibility whatsoever. That she will become the drum captain pretty much by default for her senior year is a major drawback in that plan. But the start of the school year is still a week away, and meanwhile there is Will – new guy, freshly moved to Florida from the Midwest. They hook up, but then Tia realizes that Will would rather become serious. And she doesn’t do serious. But since he also plays the drums, it’s not like they can avoid each other. Not avoiding each other leads to friendship and to a whole lot flirting. When they are actually voted Biggest Flirts for the yearbook, things become awkward indeed.

I really enjoyed Biggest Flirts, especially Tia who is an unusual protagonist for a young adult romance. The story is well-paced and cute. Overall, it’s just really fun.

The book cover showing a boy and a girl posing for a photo in front of school lockers. She is sitting on his lap, making a kissy mouth.
Just a note: Tia is Puerto Rican, I don’t know why the whitest girl ever is on this cover.
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The Summer I Turned Pretty (Jenny Han)

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first novel in the The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han.
Finished on: 26.7.2022

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Belly has always spend the summers at the beach with her family, at the house of her mother Laurel’s best friend Susannah. For the summer, it was she, her brother Steven and Susannah’s sons Conrad and Jeremiah. Each summer, it was Belly’s secret crush on Conrad and her friendship with Jeremiah. She always hoped that Conrad would see her as something else than the kid sister of his friend at some point, and this summer is shaping up to be actually different from the summers that came before.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a quick sweet read that managed to make a love triangle palatable to me. The ending felt a little fast, but since it is only the first novel in a trilogy, that’s quite okay.

The book cover showing a girl and two boys in swimming suits/truns running on the beach.
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