Mini Reviews: Cynical Romantics Find Love

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The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1)
by Alisha Rai
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Avon

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis via Goodreads: Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

*I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

After loving Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, I was excited to dive into the spin off series, Modern Love. I didn’t know much about this new series other than the fact that it would revolve around various mediums of social media and it would include some secondary characters from the Forbidden Hearts series. Nonetheless, I was excited for more of Rai’s words, her steamy romances and to see some of these secondary characters get their own HEA.

As a CEO of the successful dating app, Rhiannon Hunter is all about ensuring happily-ever-afters for her users—however, when it comes to her own love life…well that’s a different story. When a guy who ghosted her a few months ago comes back into her life, Rhiannon is on the fence about whether or not she wants to give him a second chance. Still working to move past the death of his uncle, Samson Lima is hoping that helping with his aunt’s dating app will keep his mind occupied. But coming face to face with Rhiannon again was the last thing he expected and this time he plans on making his second shot with her count. Is Rhiannon willing to give Samson a second chance or will being burned once prove to be not worth the risk?

Before I started this book, I was warned to not expect a steamy romance like that of Rai’s previous works since the romance in The Right Swipe is not the main focus of the story. That being said, even though I went into this book with that notion, I still found myself not enjoying this book as much as I would’ve liked. This is definitely a case of “it’s me, not you”. The Right Swipe is the second romance book I’ve read where dating apps play a big role in the plot and I’ve come to the realization that this theme is just not my jam. I don’t care for dating apps in real life so I don’t really care for books that revolve around dating apps. While the dating app aspect of this book didn’t really hold my attention, the characters were a different story. I adored Samson. He’s such a teddy bear—that is until you piss him off—and I loved how patient he was with Rhiannon and allowed her to set the pace of their relationship. I also liked that Samson was such a big family guy and how passionate he was about bringing attention to CTE and how it negatively impacts football players. Rhiannon is a #BOSSLADY who has created a successful dating app and while she’s all about creating connections for individuals, she finds it hard to put herself out there due to trauma from her past. Allowing herself to open up and let her guard down was something she had to learn if she was truly gonna make things work between her and Samson. The one thing that did annoy me about Rhi was how hung up she was on the fact that Samson had ghosted her before. Like he had a legitimate for why he stood her up and she should’ve just let it go and moved on instead of holding it against him. As I stated before, the romance takes a back seat in this book and that didn’t really work for me. What can I say, yo girl likes her books heavy on the romance but I did enjoy the little moments of passion sprinkled throughout this story. The main reason why the romance is placed second is because Rai uses the opportunity to focus on other themes like, women empowerment and sexual harassment in the workplace which is something I haven’t really seen in many romance books or just in books in general and it was different but relevant. The ending was a tad rush for my liking. We kind of get thrown into a big scandal where everything is revealed and then that mess is all resolved and Rhiannon and Samson finally get together and then the story ends. I just wanted a little bit more of these two together, just a little more! The Right Swipe may not have been the book for me but I still recommend it to those who enjoy stories that revolve around social media dating and I’m still excited to continue this series to see where Rai takes us next!



Things You Save in a Fire
by Katherine Center
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Add to Goodreads || Buy on Amazon  

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis via Goodreads: From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds. 

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

*I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Katherine Center is an author who landed on my radar last year when I started seeing rave reviews for her book, How to Walk Away. But like the true procrastinator that I am, that book is still sitting on my eReader unread and instead I decided to read her newest release, Things You Save in a Fire.

Firefighter Cassie Hanwell loves her job and her crew. But on a night that was meant to be a memorable one instead turns into a disaster, leaving Cassie’s position on the Austin FD up in the air. Adding fuel to the fire, she gets a call from her estranged mother asking her to come stay with her as she has recently fallen ill. Cassie takes this as a sign and decides that instead of termination, she asks to be transferred to a fire department closer to her mother’s home. Between rebuilding her relationship with her mother and learning the ropes of a new crew, Cassie will soon learn one of the hardest lessons of her life—forgiveness.

I FELT PERSONALLY ATTACKED BY THIS BOOK! I knew going into this book that my emotions were gonna run high but I did not expect to become so invested into this story like I did. While I did really enjoy this book, it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. I did not like Cassie for like the first 30% of the book. Cassie comes off as a very abrasive person when you first meet her. She’s all about being a firefighter and doing the best job possible and she has no time for anything else. She doesn’t do relationships, she believes love isn’t for her, she’s just emotionally detached and comes off as a very cold person. But Cassie does have her reasons for thinking the way that she does: the first being the fear of being abandoned again just like how her mom left her and her father on her sixteenth birthday and the second being a fear of intimacy as she was a victim of sexual assault and she never really dealt with what happened to her. She doesn’t want to be hurt again like she was in the past. Throughout this story we see Cassie struggle with coming to terms with her past as she works to rebuild her relationship with her mother who is terminally ill. I really enjoyed seeing Cassie and her mother become close again because for the past few years, Cassie has painted her mother to be a villain who broke her family apart but then she listens to her mother’s perspective and she realizes there’s so much more to the story and she starts to understand why her mother made the decision she made. Learning to forgive plays a huge role throughout this story because Cassie has to learn how to not only forgive her mom, but also how to forgive herself and not blame herself for the past. She also realizes that she is a person who is worthy of love. I think even though Cassie took some time to warm up to, she’s actually quite relatable and her story kind of resonated with me a lot, more than I expect it to. There is a little side romance in this story and I thought it was adorable because Cassie was trying so hard not to fall for Owen but Owen is such a charmer and all around good person that she couldn’t stop herself from falling for him. These two were a low key mess at times when it came to hiding their feelings and it was cute seeing them get tongue-tied but I loved how patient Owen was and that he gave Cassie time to work on her own self and let her come to him when she was ready. Things You Save in a Fire took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions but I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ll definitely be picking up whatever book Center writes next but while I wait, I think I might just finally get to reading How to Walk Away.


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I'm Ari, a local NYC bibliophile and a forever daydreamer. You can usually find me with my nose buried in a book and my head up in the clouds. I am also a coffee addict and a chocolate connoisseur. I fell in love with the romance genre about three years ago and I haven't been able to stop reading about happily-ever-afters, which is ironic because I'm a bit of a cynical romantic in real life, haha. I hope you all enjoy my blog and fangirling with me about all the smutty reads!

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