Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2023

Review – Dear Grumpy Boss by Julia Wolf

Dear Grumpy Boss; The Harder They Fall #1
(Standalone within a series)

Publication Date: March 9, 2023

Genre/Tropes: Workplace/Brother’s Best Book/Forced Proximity Romance

Author: Julia Wolf

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars


There were so many feelings to feel while reading this book and I loved how Julia evoked them all.

Elise is coming out of a long time relationship where her self esteem is in tatters. Moving back home she secures a job in her brother’s best friends company, it’s a job that is well earned and one she’s qualified for, so I appreciated that even though her personal life was falling apart, she still earned the job on her own.

It doesn’t take long for Elise to get pulled into her boss’s orbit, even when that was never her intention. There is a strong feeling that Weston, the owner of the company, was highly anticipating her return to town and his orbit is all encompassing since he literally owns everything.

I loved the push and pull of their relationship. Elise may have grown up with Weston, but he wasn’t going to let his position as her boss sway her in any negative or positive way, nor was he going to allow his past as the older brother’s best friend affect her feelings going forward. He basically wanted a clean slate with her, but he also wasn’t sure how to do it. He knew he was a workaholic and he knew he was terrible at relationships, but he wanted her desperately and he wasn’t going to let his opportunity of having Elise home and close pass him by again. So what if he was a little grumpy, it turned out Elise knew how to handle his grumpy side. It was all kind of sweet.

I really enjoyed this story, except for perhaps the final turbulent moment. All I will say is this; Elise was a bit harsh and childish of the way she handled things. Yes, it was a given that Weston was a workaholic, but this particular moment was insanely different and given the circumstances he should have been allowed a pass. That’s all I’ll say since it all worked out in the end.

I’ve spent the better part of the last few years successfully avoiding my brother’s best friend, Weston Aldrich.

As CEO of Andes Inc, the infuriatingly handsome and incessantly grumpy Weston also happens to be my new boss.

It shouldn’t have been hard to continue avoiding him. After all, he’s on the executive floor and I’m one of many copywriters.

Weston has his own ideas about how things should go between us. He’s in my emails, leaving notes on my desk, and as if that’s not enough, he arranges for me to accompany him on a business trip.

That leads to stolen touches, frenzied kisses, and the undeniable need to work each other out of our systems. That always works, right?

Except now that I know what it feels like to have Weston Aldrich appreciate every inch of my abundant curves, avoiding him is impossible.

But he’s my brother’s best friend.
And a workaholic.
We have to stop.
And we will.
Just…not yet.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2023

Review – Hockey With Benefits by Tijan

Hockey With Benefits

Publication Date: March 7, 2023

Genre/Tropes: New Adult/Sports Romance

Author: Tijan

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars


Tijan writes sports romance unlike any other author. I love diving into her worlds, having my heart broken only to be made better once I return from the visceral journey she’s taken me on. Hockey With Benefits is an experience that eviscerated me for the better.

Mara is such a complex character, deeply broken, but when are Tijan’s characters, especially her female ones, not? Moving past that, Mara is highly aware of who she is, what triggers her, and what kind of person she is. Perhaps a good comparison would be; like any villain, she is intelligent and has had a crap home life, but instead of taking over the world, she actually would rather hide from it, hence using Cruz Styles for a no strings with benefits booty call.

Cruz is the perfect no strings hookup. He didn’t push Mara for more, as he was extremely busy between hockey, school, and his own family issues. He didn’t have time for everything that a girlfriend would require like dates, texting, hanging out, etc…Mara was easiest decision he’d made in a long time, until things started to get messy.

Every relationship reaches a point of no return, no matter who you are. Do you tell someone you know all of your dark secrets or do you continue to keep them at acquaintance level and just skim the surface until you never see them again? Mara and Cruz, no matter how many times they’d been intimate, hadn’t actually crossed that line into more, but once they did – putting the lid back on a box they’d already opened…well, the question became should they close it and walk away or continue unpacking everything inside?

Hockey With Benefits is a deeply emotional ride of family, friends, and finding your person who really understands you, darkness and all, with or without the benefits.

Hockey with benefits. That was what Mara proposed, and I was down.

She said no feelings and she meant it.
Just benefits. No strings attached. Nothing else. Not even friendship.
College was her escape, including us.

I didn’t have time for a girlfriend.
I had classes, the team, my family, and the game.

It was all working too…

Until somewhere down the line, things got messy.
Until somehow we were dealing with threats, secrets, rivals, and so much more.
Until I began to want her in ways that weren’t part of the deal.

Our agreement didn’t just get checked into the wall, it got obliterated.

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