Genre: Romance

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cute but Needs Work: How the Cowboy Was Won by Lori Wilde

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Cute but Needs Work: How the Cowboy Was Won by Lori Wilde
How the Cowboy Was Won
Lori Wilde
Series: Cupid, Texas
Genre: Adult, Retellings, Romance
Publication date: March 27th, 2018
by Avon

Return to New York Times Bestselling Author Lori Wilde’s beloved town of Cupid, Texas, where wedding fever is in the air . . . and two best friends discover that sometimes the perfect match is standing right in front of you . . .

Ember Alzate is a fantastic matchmaker with one big problem: she can’t find the perfect mate for herself! Alzate family legend says that when she kisses “the One” she’ll hear a mysterious humming in her head. Well, Ember’s kissed a lot of guys and she’s never heard a thing. Now, instead of searching for herself, she vows to find her best friend, Ranger Lockhart, a bride. It’s clear this smart, sexy man just needs to meet the right gal.

Ranger’s returned home to Cupid with marriage on his mind, but he’s not interested in the parade of women Ember pushes under his nose. His thoughts keep returning to his best friend—with her combustible combination of curves and sass. No one compares to Ember, but what’s it going to take to convince her she’s the woman for him?
-A copy was provided by Avon for review-

When one of my mutuals pointed out How the Cowboy Was Won was an Emma retelling, I was all aboard. I adore Jane Austen novels and I especially adore retellings of them. I don’t think I’ve seen many literary Emma retellings so it’s amusing that this year, there are two on my TBR!

So. Anyway. I have a complicated relationship with this book. There are parts of it I really liked but there were a bunch of things that rubbed me the wrong way and I haven’t seen many reviews talking about some of the things that bothered me which makes me more inclined to be critical. I want issues to be talked about. SO. ANYWAY. I am going to start with the good stuff first and break this review down into pros and cons because I am a lister.


  • The romance has a slow buildup. Not necessarily because there aren’t sparks right off the bat, but because their feelings take sometime to build up and I LOVE IT. THE SLOW BURN IS REAL, PEOPLE.
  • Supportive couple. Ember and Ranger are ridiculously supportive of one another. As friends, as a couple. I love that even when there is jealousy, it is never ever ever about their successes and they are always there for one another. There is a lot of angst in this book but like regardless, Ember and Ranger are just REALLY GOOD FRIENDS and even better romantic partners.

In general, my positive experience reading this book was centered around how the romance was written. Lori Wilde did a really good job making me feel invested in the couple and their future. However, there were a bunch of cons that did impact my overall reading experience.


  • Our first intro to Ember centers how she felt ‘other’ growing up because she inherited her mother’s fair skin and red hair instead of her father’s Native American genes. I am sorry but what? I am pretty sure that in general, being white passing has benefitted her more often that not. Also in general, I feel like the author really portrays Ember’s Native American identity in a very stereotypical way and really only uses it in this exoticized, watered down way that just felt icky and disrespectful to me. There are more books in this series and maybe things are done differently in them but since this is the only book I’ve read in the series, it is the only one I can speak to.
  • There is ableist language in this book. Especially pertaining to Ranger’s various illnesses growing up. His younger self is referred to as an ‘invalid.’ Which is problematic on a number of levels. You can read more about why the word is hurtful here.
  • So the main plot of this book is that Ember is trying to find Ranger a wife with good social skills so he can get the job he wants and not have to move to New Zealand. In comes Dawn, his research partner and this is what Ember has to say about her. “Dawn knew his world. Had great social skills. She would be an asset to any man trying to climb the academic ladder.” (note that this quote was not taken from a final version of the book, only my review copy.) Excuse me????? Dawn does not exist to only be an asset to a man who wants to climb the academic ladder. She wants to climb the ladder too and as a woman in STEM, that ladder is gonna be much harder for her to climb than a man lacking in social skills. This really irked me because it just seemed to dismissive of women in STEM.

On a larger scale, some of my cons may seem minor but these things build up and I think they are worth addressing because they are indicative of larger problems. There is good to be had in this book and the romance will be sure to win over a number of readers, but I think these issues are important to keep in mind and I hope anyone who picks the book up will do just that.

2.5 Stars
2.5 Hot Espressos

Not Linden’s Best: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

Not Linden’s Best: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

Posted by on 02/16/2018 • 0 Comments

I might have waited too long to write this review because I am really scrambling to gather those thoughts. I’ve read several books by Caroline Linden and have really enjoyed her HRs. When I heard about her upcoming release and heard there was gambling involved, I was 110% in.

Here was my main problem though, I enjoyed the romance, I loved the story, I just didn’t love the Duke of Ware. He is completely insufferable and too pig-headed for my liking. He is intense and not in a good way. I warmed up a little bit to him, but for the most part, his pushiness and self-centeredness was not endearing in the list.

But if I hated the love interest, why did I enjoy the romance? Well, Caroline…

The Royal Romance I Didn’t Know I Needed: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

The Royal Romance I Didn’t Know I Needed: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Posted by on 02/15/2018 • 2 Comments

If you have ever read or enjoyed a romance novel, this book needed to be on your TBR yesterday. I was over the moon when I was approved to read an advanced copy and the book held up to every single one of my expectations + more.

REASONS TO READ Naledi Smith is in grad school studying to be an epidemiologist Spam emails that aren’t really spam from the assistant of the Prince of Thesolo Cocky Prince who doesn’t really know how to function outside of a castle but learns to impress a girl Some cooking experiments when said cocky prince is trying to impress Ledi Angst but like good angst Swoony romance with hate-to-love vibes. Discussion of socio-economic privilege Discussion of what it’s like to live in a non-western…

Liked But Didn’t Love: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Liked But Didn’t Love: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Posted by on 01/26/2018 • 2 Comments

I have no clue how I am supposed to start this review. I tried to explain to Nick how I felt about the book because we sorta buddy read it (she finished a day before I did) and it’s really hard to capture my overall reaction. There were bits that I loved but overall, The Wedding Date just didn’t make the impression I had hoped it would. It’s a total feel-good read and I want to see it on a big screen (this is the second time I am saying that about a book in the span of a month.)

I am a big romance reader but as Nick will tell you, I am really picky and want a very specific sort of vibe. I want the domestic scenes…

Complex and Feel-Good: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Complex and Feel-Good: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Posted by on 01/24/2018 • 9 Comments

Let’s Talk About Love surprised me. I went in expecting good vibes and it still blew my expectations out of the water. It is NOT a perfect book, I am nitpicky and its hard for books to be perfect for me, but Let’s Talk About Love is damn well a fantastic read that is worth your time.

Do you love a feel-good romance that will sweep you off your feet? Do you love reading about friendships that have true-to-life complexity? Do you love some angst (the good kind)? Let’s Talk About Love is an ode to not just romantic love but all kinds of love, it explores the complexities of all kinds of relationships and it’s just a GOOD BOOK.

So why am I a nit picky bastard? Well because…

Rashika’s Meet Cute

Rashika’s Meet Cute

Posted by on 01/10/2018 • 4 Comments

Meet Cute is an adorable anthology of stories I felt were personally written for me. I didn’t actually know the book was coming out until like mid-way through last year. That in itself isn’t entirely odd in of itself but like for a book that just screams RASHIKA, clearly, I should have known about it. Shout out to my friend Holly who saw the book at ALA in June and thought of me even when I didn’t know Meet Cute was a book I needed.

I digress though. I don’t really want to review this anthology. I can wholeheartedly say it was worth the read and that I didn’t dislike any of the stories. There were maybe 2-3 that didn’t do much for me but even then, I did not…

The Hamilton-Insipired Romances You Didn’t Know You Wanted: Hamilton’s Battalion

The Hamilton-Insipired Romances You Didn’t Know You Wanted: Hamilton’s Battalion

Posted by on 11/30/2017 • 1 Comment

Hamilton’s Battalion is one of the most unique romance anthologies I’ve had the pleasure of reading, ever. You’ve probably heard of Hamilton unless you live under the rock. The musical has really brought a lot of attention to Alexander Hamilton and given way to a lot of other media that adapts and retells historical events. This trio of romances is not only perfect for fans of historical romance but also for any Hamilton fans who just want ~more~.

This anthology is not only unique because it is one of the first ones that are inspired by Hamilton but also because even though it is three different stories by three different authors, the stories have a common overarching story.

Eliza Hamilton is collecting stories about her late husband and has reached…

Cute But Not Much Else: Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky & Anissa Espinosa

Cute But Not Much Else: Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky & Anissa Espinosa

Posted by on 11/29/2017 • 1 Comment

Cast No Shadow was a surprise graphic novel I received but it looked really cute and I couldn’t help but read it right away. Of course, this was some time ago and I am only now getting around to writing the review for the book so forgive me.

Greg has no shadow and is kind of an outcast. One day, he discovers a haunted mansion and ends up falling in love with the resident ghost. Obviously, things get a little complicated and there is some good angst going on there too.

The graphic novel is as cute as it sounds but doesn’t necessarily leave a lasting impression. Not every book I read, or anyone reads, needs to be revolutionary but I think the premise is so unique that I would…