✍🏻 Professor Renshaw’s 4 1/2 ⭐️ Review: Winter Renshaw’s Trillion ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2

Oh, Winter Renshaw, I don’t know how you do it. Every book you write proffers up a hero who is too buttoned-up and shut off, and in a manner of pages, you unravel them. You can’t help but cringe at their emotional unavailability because you know, as the reader, that, with the love of an intelligent, emotionally-mature heroine, they will be brought to their knees. Waiting for that moment feels like both an eternity and a second; it comes, and the beauty of your writing is realized. This is the case with Renshaw’s newest book, Trillion. This is a story beautifully wrought, emotionally intense, and glaringly intense. If you love trillionaire heroes and emotionally complex heroines, then you MUST grab Trillion now. Like, immediately. 

One of the first observations of any Renshaw book is the fluidity of storytelling. Every time I pick up one of her books, Trillion included, the story moves forward quickly that I grow sadder and sadder as the pages turn because I hate for the story to end. This is a testament to Renshaw’s style and ability to build her narrative. I will say that sometimes the last eighth of her book feels rushed. In Trillion, the chapters became shorter, when I wanted them to be longer. And there were some plot issues for me. Namely, Sophie’s (her heroine) reasoning for her choices in the latter part of the book. To be honest, they feel a little contrived for the purposes of the story (I’m not saying more because this book holds too many secrets and I refuse to spoil them). I am not sure if Renshaw runs out of steam toward the end, but her later chapters don’t always feel as beautifully developed as her earlier ones. That being said, this book’s facility engages you from the start to the end, marking Renshaw’s impressive writing capacity. 

Trey and Sophie make for two of my favorite heroes and heroines in Renshaw’s book universe. She said in her acknowledgments that she allowed her characters to write this story. That she began with the intent of focusing on Trey as the trillionaire hero, but Sophie’s overpowered his story at some point. And quite honestly, thank goodness! Sophie’s story is important, especially right now. Honestly, I think Renshaw could have taken her message further. Again I don’t want to divulge her secrets for readers who have yet to read Trillion, but in our world today, her struggles are being played out in real-time. To fully understand Trey and Sophie in Trillion, you must simply understand this sentence: they are two sides of the same coin. While Trey is the richest man in the world and controls every aspect of his life to the nth degree, Sophie is no different in her need for control with a bank account with fewer zeroes. When their coupling wields the sword to undo their careful control, Renshaw’s message is realized. This is the “sweet spot” of Renshaw’s storytelling, and you can’t help but revel in it. 

Trillion is a carefully constructed story of two wills, two hearts, and two experiences. Each moment of Winter Renshaw’s romance feels carefully plotted and engaging. I thought it would take me time to move through Trey and Sophie’s journey. What I found is a story of two souls aching for the other. Yes, there is angst; yes, the story can feel overwhelming. Yet, the end is a promise that each struggle is worth it at the moment. Trillion is a story about a past, a present, and an enviable future. 

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4 1/2 ⭐️ Review: L.B. Dunbar’s Speak from the Heart ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2

I did not read L.B. Dunbar’s Sound Advice when it was released several years ago. Over the past year, I have fallen hard for Dunbar’s brand of over-40, small-town romance. She has this way with crafting characters that feel and seem realistic but with sprinkles of fiction. For this reader, I can get lost in Dunbar’s stories quite easily and find myself planted in them. 

Enter Dunbar’s revised Sound Advice now entitled Speak from the Heart and the charm of the romances I’ve come to love finds itself once again in this story. I can’t tell you what she has done differently from the original. What I can tell you is that I didn’t want to stop reading this story because Jess and Emily Post (I see your genius there, L.B.) represent the parts of our humanity that fear vulnerability and choice. Below the depths of the simplicity of Dunbar’s small-town romance lies the deep-rooted theme of wanting to be chosen. At the heart of this story is a plea: choose me; pick me. And that prayer smacks you right in your heart. 

The reasons to add this to your library TODAY:

Emily Post. As far as heroines go, you will adore Emily. For one, she’s incredibly insightful. She understands Jess’s daughter, Katie, in a way that her father oftentimes misses. She’s quirky. Jess calls her a “hot mess,” and she might be, but this part of her personality humanizes her, makes her seem real. She’s ambitious: she wants a career predicated on her work ethic and drive. She has strived for much of her life to seek after the reward of a coveted journalist’s spot, but her misogynistic boss only sees the perceived weakness of being a woman. This is not a major point of this story, but it’s one to pay attention to. Dunbar uses all of these traits to endear you to her heroine, and she does it well. I appreciated Emily much more than I did her hero, Jess.

Jess. It took me some time to enjoy Jess. Honestly, it took me almost three-fourths of the book. Here’s the thing: I adore grumpy heroes. There is nothing more satisfying than a surly hero who is redeemed to a point of adoration. They will always have shades of irritability to their persona, but it usually becomes possessiveness for the heroine. But Jess, well, he begins to become humanized, yet regularly falls back behind his hardened shell. Oftentimes, it feels contrived. Jess is the rollercoaster ride of Dunbar’s Speak from the Heart. Sometimes, you want to sit in the front seat of it; sometimes, you simply don’t want to get on because it’s a little bumpy when it could be engineered to be smoother. Thankfully, Emily reminds him of what it means to live more abundantly, and slowly, he begins to break his hardened shell. However, for much of this story, these two dance around a future, and it can be so darn frustrating. Yet, that tension and discord is the reason we love romance, and Dunbar creates stories that balance that tension with a sensuality and romance that you simply don’t want to leave. 

The extended family members. From Jess’s daughter, Katie, to his sister, Tricia, to Emily’s grandmother, Elizabeth, Speak from the Heart is fraught with additional ideas about mutism and trauma, divorce, and senility/dementia/Alzheimer’s. Dunbar deftly weaves these stories in the midst of Jess and Emily’s burgeoning romance, bracing it within the realm of the real world. There are no billionaires here, no rich trips to Bali. Instead, Dunbar’s story illustrates the difficulties of falling in love when the real world beckons for your attention. It’s one of the many reasons to read this book as well as her other ones because she’s a wizard at making the “real” better and realizing these stories on the page, ameliorating real life with the beauty of romance.

From its first page, Speak from the Heart captured my heart. There is something special about Jess and Emily’s journey, as they struggle to live life and avoid falling in love. When your hurts feel heavier than the promise of feeling adored and cherished, you run…until there is no more place to run and hide in. So…as L.B. Dunbar carefully suggests, we have to face it and accept it. In doing so, the rewards will always outweigh our fears. If you do one thing today, it’s to “pick” Dunbar’s Speak from the Heart. You will not regret this one.

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s More than 5 ⭐️ Review: Top Shelf Romance’s Never Let Go ✍🏻

Overall Grade: More than ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I have to be honest with this review. I am very choosy when I decide to read a romance anthology. When I saw the release information for Top Shelf Romance’s Never Let Go anthology, a compilation of stories from Kandi Steiner, Ella James, Tijan, and Alessandra Torre, I decided to jump in because I adore Kandi Steiner and I had yet to read A Love Letter to Whiskey (her contribution to the anthology), and I had been intrigued with Tijan’s Teardrop Shot. What I found in my foray into this anthology is Top Shelf Romance’s genius in curating specific stories behind the theme of the book. That title Never Let Go isn’t just a title; it is the essence of this anthology. With that theme, the stories of this book take you on epic journeys of romance that oftentimes slow your heart, hurt your stomach, titillate you, and draw you through what are sometimes difficult moments in the stories by these authors. This book felt heavy with promise, and it didn’t disappoint in the least. I have spent the last few days drowning in the stories that feel substantial but make you work for that happily ever after. For this reader, it was a glorious journey that still weighs heavy in my heart. 

Each of the stories was compelling. I had not read any of them prior to reading the anthology so I found myself entrapped by Ella James’s Sloth. James’s ability to create each moment of Cleo and Kellan’s story is overwhelming and beautiful and careful and engaging. I couldn’t stop. It’s 500 pages, and James provoked me to keep going even when the story became hard. Even when I wanted to throw my phone at the wall because their journey became difficult. Even when I wanted to reach through my screen and pummel Kellan for perceived curtness and disinterest. This story inspired me; it grabbed me; and it pulled me in, leaving me with a huge story hangover. 

Alessandra Torre’s Love in Lingerie, the fourth story of the anthology, was actually the first one I read. I knew Steiner’s novella would make my heart bleed, so I decided to begin with what I perceived as a safer choice. To be clear, there is no safe choice here. Like the other stories of this anthology, Torre’s Trey and Kate are perfection. Seriously. Their chemistry bleeds off the page. Torre drives you through their story as they refuse to move their relationship beyond friendship even though the burn between them is palpable. Torre’s skill in moving the story forward without allowing the characters to give in until just the right time is the definition of edging. I found myself lost in Trey and Kate’s relationship praying that they would have more, knowing that Torre wouldn’t let me down. For me, Love in Lingerie was a perfect place to start. 

Tijan surprises me. Each book that I have read, I come away wanting to know more about her process as a writer. Teardrop Shot is no different. I read Rich Prick earlier in the year, and it has such a different feel from Teardrop Shot. Like Sloth, like Love in Lingerie, and like Steiner’s A Love Letter to Whiskey, Teardrop Shot embraces the journey. Much like James’s Sloth, there is a secret in its story though, and that secret drives the gravity of it. In that gravity lies the brilliance of Tijan’s story. For me, Teardrop Shot drilled a small hole in my heart, and I found myself re-reading parts of the book because I didn’t want to let go of Tijan’s Reese and Charlie. One of my favorite parts of Tijan’s characterizations in this book and her other sports romances (that I’ve read thus far) is her ability to craft quirky, compelling heroines. Don’t get me wrong; Tijan’s Reese is a dreamy hero whom you fall in love with instantly. He’s the rock for Charlie that she requires. He’s created just for her, as Tijan illustrates in her story and I think that’s the reason I love Teardrop Shot the most. The vulnerability and precariousness of these two characters both compel you forward and hold you rapt. I wanted the story to both finish and continue. Like the other stories in this anthology, we are reminded that life progresses at an even, sometimes tedious, pace, and Tijan along with the other writers compose stories that allow readers to walk every step with the characters. That was my favorite part of Never Let Go.

Lastly, Steiner’s A Letter to Whiskey finds its brilliance in both her allusion and personification of Whiskey through Jamie Shaw. One of my favorite parts of writing, in general, is an author’s articulation of story through devices that illustrate their genius. Steiner keenly illustrates that through her style and construction of her story. Along with that, she points to the truth of her story when her heroine suggests “[I] think sometimes life is about embracing what hurts, because pain is one of the vivid emotions we can feel. Pain reminds us that we are alive, and I’ll always appreciate that stinging reminder.” I think this is why readers love angsty romances such as Steiner’s book. While it’s difficult to read Jamie and B’s journey, it reminds us that mixed in with the love and fun of life is a vat of pain, that we need that balance to truly acknowledge and understand the glories of living. That is the truth for each of these stories, and it’s an important one, hence the reason this book feels essential. 

Top Shelf Romance’s Never Let Go anthology feels weighty and beautiful. Yes, it puts its readers through the paces of romance. But when this reader finished it, I felt as though I met an achievement. It also seemed like such a worthy bit of reading. While you must journey through the trials of Steiner’s, James’s, Tijan’s, and Torre’s heroes and heroines, every bit of it is a journey worth taking. Never Let Go is the best money you will spend today, tomorrow, and in weeks to come. 

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4 1/2 ⭐️ Review: Carly Phillips’s Dare to Tempt, book 2 of the Dare Nation ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2

I had mentioned in my review for Dare to Resist that I had missed out on Carly Phillips’s previous Dare stories. Even after reading Dare to Resist, the first book of her newest series, Dare Nation,  I didn’t feel as though I needed to read the other books for context as Phillips does such a fantastic job of connecting you to the characters from those books. I also mentioned in that review that Dare to Resist felt busy, and I struggled to like Austin Prescott for most of the story. Trust me, I love an alpha-hole, but he read as vain and self-involved until Quinn humanizes him (thank you, Lord). At the end of Dare to Resist, it was clear that Austin’s brother, Damon, finds himself in a predicament: he is accused of using PEDs to enhance his performance after coming off of a concussion. Thus, Dare to Tempt becomes a little bit romantic suspense and a little bunch of hate-to-love, a compelling combination of romantic tropes. 

In comparing the two books, Dare to Tempt won my heart. For one, it didn’t have the busyness of storylines as Dare to Resist did. Phillips clearly wrote individual struggles for both Austin and Quinn in that book plus adding in a secret baby, and you found your head spinning. In Dare to Tempt, Carly Phillips flexes her romance muscle by coupling two characters, Damon and Evie, and keeping their story focused.  At first glance, these two seem like oil and vinegar, and Phillips sets up the tension of the story right away when Damon passes judgment on Evie based on her appearance. Right at the beginning, Phillips hits us with the idea that we ought not to “judge a book by its cover” as Evie quickly schools Damon. At that moment, Phillips began to win me over. 

Next, Phillips crafts my favorite type of heroic archetype: the alpha-male hero with a soft heart. While Damon makes a quick judgment about Evie, after she proves him wrong, quite quickly Phillips has Damon devolve into a compassionate protector. There is no lingering with Damon in his disbelief over Evie. He recognizes her worth and ability quickly.  The second aspect of the story that I appreciated from Phillips is the crafting of Damon’s thinking. It is easy for alpha heroes to reduce their heroines. They hide it behind their protective and “loving” nature. Damon appears to follow this suit, but Phillips writes this well in that he rationalizes his thoughts about Evie and his want to protect her that she creates a feminist in Damon. This doesn’t undermine his alpha tendencies; instead, it illustrates productive ways of crafting heroes in today’s society. Damon goes from 0 to 5 stars through Phillips’s careful depiction of him. 

Thirdly, Evie is the type of heroine who challenges typical heroine archetypes. She’s strong, dogged in her pursuit of Damon’s truth. Like strong women, however, she struggles with vulnerability, and this becomes a third message of Phillip’s Dare to Tempt. She illustrates the challenges for women who are intelligent and strong to allow themselves to be vulnerable as it looks like weakness. This becomes Evie’s struggle through the book, but Damon’s ability to allow her the space to reconcile it is my third favorite part of this book. 

Lastly, I loved the romantic suspense of this story. Carly Phillips carefully intertwines that part of the story with Damon and Evie’s journey. There are a few times when it seemed as though Evie forgets her investigative work, but Phillips reintroduces it into the story, revealing the resolution at just the right time. 

If you are new to Carly Phillips, and you don’t know where to start, you could absolutely go back to the beginning and read the extended Dare universe. However, if you want to jump in feet first, Dare to Resist and Dare to Tempt, the newest book of the Dare Nation series, are a great place to begin. Phillips’s romances involve fiery chemistry, insightful storytelling, and a complex family that has a character for anyone. For me, thus far, Dare to Tempt is my favorite of the Dare Nation books. Yet, I can’t wait for Jaxon’s story because marriage of convenience plus playboy baseball player feels like a winner.

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 5 ⭐️ Review: Kandi Steiner’s Ritual ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I have a massive book hangover from Kandi Steiner’s Palm South University series. I’ve spent the past month preparing for the newest book in this series, Ritual, and every open moment has found me invested in the lives of Steiner’s characters: Skylar, Bear, Adam, Cassie, Erin, Jess, and Ashlei. Let me say this here: if you ever think about the money you spend on books, and some books feel like you don’t get your money’s worth, look no further. There is so much story in Steiner’s Palm South U series that it feels lie a bargain buying one of these books. 

Ritual, the newest book of the series, is no different. Here we find our favorite sorority and fraternity brothers continuing life in South Florida. Like the first four books in the series, they are met with drama, fun, and lots of time “Netflix and chilling.” I think what I love most about this series is its connection to reality. Many of the blurbs that speak to the “reality television” aspect of this series aren’t wrong. I teach college writing for a living and one of the reasons I didn’t jump into this series after reading Black Number Four (the book that crosses over the PSU book, Legacy) is my need to avoid college-aged students’ lives outside of my classroom. My mind allows me to see them as “kids” when I know this isn’t the case. This series makes you acknowledge the often precarious situations college students might find themselves as they learn to navigate the adult world. However, as I’m a BIG Steiner fan and wanting to read her booklist, I decided to embrace the Palm South U series on the advent of Ritual’s release, and it did not disappoint. If this is Kandi Steiner’s take on “reality television,” then sign me up if she ever gets it made into a series. Through her storytelling and commitment to reality, she has made me fall in love with her Palm South characters. 

So why read Ritual:

  1. It’s hot. With seven different characters, there are seven different points of view and stories, landing them in the bedroom sometimes more than we see them in class. 
  2. Steiner hits on real-world college stories. Ritual does more of this as a few of the characters will be graduating and entering the work world. We already see Ashlei in her internship with Okay, Cool. However, if you think Brandon and Ashlei are settled after book four, there is more coming in Ritual. Her internship illustrates the complication with workplace relationships, and it’s possible that Brandon and Ashlei won’t find their happy ending. We need these stories, laden with heartbreak because they remind us that every age endures pain. Oftentimes with romance, we read stories of billionaires or people settled in their lives. The Palm South series and, by extension Ritual, illustrates the challenges of finding yourself as you grow more deliberately into adulthood, and trauma and heartbreak don’t miss this age group. 
  3. The diversity of characters in this series makes it compelling. There are different colors, different sexualities, different socioeconomic backgrounds, and different levels of maturity in this story. In Ritual, we especially see Bear and Becca’s challenges as black people. This is also important as it reminds you that romance is not only white; it’s diverse and different. 
  4. Steiner takes her time in telling these stories. Like I said earlier in this review, you feel like you get your money’s worth and more because the storytelling is dense. That isn’t a negative here. It means that with Steiner’s careful storytelling you get the depth and breadth of story that can be missing in your average romance book. It’s impressive when you feel as though you know the characters well because Steiner takes care to fully develop their lives. It’s why they feel like people you know because their stories feel grounded in reality and like our own. That is definitely my favorite aspect of this series, of Ritual

Now, what would I love to see in the next book of the series, Hazed? (If you haven’t read the series, don’t read further…run and READ this series.)

  1. Kade and Jess grow into “a thing” in Ritual, but I really, really want her with Jarrett. If that isn’t meant to be, then I want Jess to have her space to challenge Jarret’s actions from book 3 in the forthcoming book. 
  2. More of Kip and Skyler. I fell for them first as I read Black Number Four before this series, so I want to see their happy ending progress. 
  3. Definitely more of Adam and Cassie. I know romance requires tension to build towards a climax and offer up the falling action, but these two need to “just be” for a bit given their constant challenges in their relationship.  
  4. I would love to explore Erin and Bear more. I know this is a big part of Ritual, but there is more there, and I need it. 
  5. If at all possible, Ashlei mends her broken heart. She’s one of the most interesting characters of this series as she is Steiner’s bisexual character,  and her relationships seem more fluid and interesting than the others, as they question attraction. I’m curious to see the direction Steiner takes with her. 

Had I known the wealth of storytelling in the Palm South University series, I would have dived in sooner. Thankfully, Kandi Steiner’s newest book, Ritual, is here, and I was forced to embrace college life. However, this has also left me bereft, as I. NEED. MORE of this series. As a college prof, if you think this series is only fiction, you are incorrect. The stories of these characters are the lives of my real-life students, and the challenges Steiner highlights in Ritual illustrate that trauma, heartbreak, and love are not exclusive for billionaires or the late 20/early 30 set. Love, life, and melodrama can be found anywhere. And thank goodness for that…

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4 1/2 ⭐️ Review: Prescott Lane’s Knox, book 1 of the Merrick Brothers’ series ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2

What do you get when you mix a little second chance romance, a handsome Hollywood movie star, a woman with a secret occupation, and some romantic suspense? The answer: Prescott Lane’s newest book, Knox. Knox is the first book of the Merrick Brothers’ series, and it’s a great start to a duet of books that mixes some sensuality with some sweetness. 

Knox follows the second chance romance of Mae and Knox. Mae and Knox meet as six-year olds, and their love affair begins. Throughout high school and college, these two fall deeply in love, but Knox’s interest in making a career in Hollywood derails their future. This story begins five years later. Mae still lives in Knox’s hometown, and she is a secret radio show host. One night, Knox hears Mae’s voice, and he is reminded of his reasons for loving her. His mission becomes winning her over. However, Mae’s heart was broken in the past, and she is reticent to try again with Knox. Will Hollywood’s Sexiest Man win Mae’s heart again?

Overall, I loved this story. For much of the it, Knox is a dreamy romance hero. He wants a life with Mae that he inconveniences his life for her. While his motives are oftentimes selfish, it’s purely due to his love for Mae, and romance readers can’t help but love a hero who is driven by his love. My one criticism of Knox is his inability to realize sooner that Mae was the missing link in his life. Lane crafts his character to realize it after hearing her voice. At that point, there is no turning back, but his re-interest in Mae seems quick after staying away from her for five years. Even more, throughout the story, I questioned by he didn’t fight for her more in the past. That being said, Knox easily makes up for it in the present. You root for him to finally get Mae, but Lane carefully creates enough tension between these two for a time that you are engaged to the very last page. 

Additionally, Mae is so likable. This is a woman who was spurned by the only true man she’s ever loved, and she morphs that pain into a lucrative career. Even when Knox comes back to Haven’s Point to woo Mae, she maintains this inner strength in the face of her deepest heartbreak. There are a stoicism and intelligence with Mae that the reader cannot help but adore.  However, Mae also becomes the impetus for the tension in this story. For obvious reasons, she fears a relationship with Knox, making his journey towards bringing her into his life difficult. As the story unfolds, Mae’s battle against her self and her love for Knox lends the gravity to Lane’s Knox. And it’s reasonable. Every step of the way, as Mae fights her interest in Knox, you believe it. That is my favorite part of Lane’s newest book. 

Lastly, Prescott Lane doesn’t make it easy on her reader. While her hero and heroine struggle for their second chance happy ending, she incorporates a bit of suspense. Interestingly enough, for most of the book, this plays a backseat to Knox and Mae’s evolving relationship. However, when it feels necessary to shake up their relationship, she incorporates more of that romantic suspense to add layers to her book. This makes the story more compelling. Additionally, the ancillary characters of this book, namely Mae’s grandmother, Gigi, provide some humor and wisdom to Knox when Mae and Knox’s romance feels slow. There is a great mix of tension, $exiness, wit, and mystery. 

The reason I stole a ½ star back from my review revolves around the style of the writing. Prescott Lane lays out her story well, and it flows for the most part. Sometimes, however, the word flow feels stilted, and you find yourself slowing down as the story progresses. That would be my only criticism of this story. However, I am now officially invested in The Merrick Brothers, so much so that I already preordered Ryder’s story, book 2 of this duet. 

In love and romance, 

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4 ⭐️ Review: Siobhan Davis’s Reign, the final book of The Sainthood series ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Sainthood series is complete with Siobhan Davis’s Reign. And it is a wild, wild ride. Siobhan Davis is one of those authors who throws everything at you in her stories, and it keeps you grabbed in its grasp. Page after page of action, violence, $ex, and intrigue draw you in deeper to this story. If you’ve been reading the trilogy, thankfully, you get respite from the constant terror of Sinner. However, before you get that respite, Davis treats you to an edge-of-your-seat erotic thriller that results in the happy ending perfect for Harlow, Saint, Galen, Caz, and Theo. Every moment of this book burrows deep and makes you hold your breath, hoping they will all make it out in the end. This is Davis’s superpower: her ability to invest you in stories that seem awful and violent. You ache for the torment of her characters, but it drives you forward. Even more, the men of her stories seem so difficult to love until they are. The Saint, Galen, Caz, and Theo of book one of this series ARE NOT the men of book 3, and this is only possible with a strong, insightful, careful heroine such as Harlow. Her ability to stand toe-to-toe with them ameliorates Davis’s heroes, and it’s glorious. 

Look, you might not think bully romance or romance with a dark side is your thing, but you can trust that Siobhan Davis will engage you in her Sainthood series. When you are done, you will feel as though you’ve run a marathon, but the bliss at the end will make the journey satisfying. If you like romance with an edge, grab Siobhan Davis’s Reign. Make sure you’ve read the first two books, though.

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Blog Tour & Excerpt: Max Monroe’s Hate the Player – Have you grabbed this yet? ✍🏻

HTP - BT banner

I hate him.

I want him.

He’s a jerk.

A player.



Hate the Player, a slow burn and hilarious romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe is available now!

Read my 5 ⭐️ review HERE!

Hate the Player (official 9x6)

“Roses are red, violets are blue, stay away from Andrew Watson’s *ahem* because no other women ever do.”

That’s quite the way to start a conversation at a casual lunch, huh? Grilled chicken, French fries, and pelvic-fatigue, oh my!

And that’s not even the worst of it.

My friend Raquel didn’t pull any punches when she warned me about my brand-new co-star and his notoriously player-esque ways. Apparently, my most important mission on my first role in a feature film is to stay immune to his charms.

Are you kidding me? Production costs on this movie are in the hundreds of thousands a day, and staying away from a panty-whispering, vajayjay-charmer is supposed to be at the top of my list? Pfft. Puh-lease.

It doesn’t matter that he’s annoyingly attractive, uber rich, crazy famous, and lusted after by ninety percent of the female population; Andrew Watson is trouble with a capital T—especially for a woman like me.

As a preventative measure, I’ve decided to go ahead and hate him.

Don’t worry, you guys, I’m completely in control. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to do something stupid like fall in love with him.

I can hate the player but still secretly love his addictive game.

I’m sure of it.


Download your copy today or read for Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2C7tklj

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/HateThePlayer

Add Hate the Player to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2ZLb2y4

HTP - Teaser 3



True to my name, I’m about to take fucking flight. At least, I would if I could.

In this moment, it really would have been helpful if my trainer hadn’t successfully eliminated all the extra flappy meat on my upper arms. Surely, if I got them going fast enough, the wind beneath those bat wings could have carried me up and through the ceiling of this place.

C’mon, you big baby, I coach myself. You can do this.

One cavernous breath into my lungs and then another and another, and eventually, just before my vision turns tunneled, I will my feet to move away from the door.

Gleaming marble floors, golden statues, and a freaking fountain in the center, the lobby of Capo Brothers Studios is everything I should have expected and more.

If everything is bigger in Texas, then everything is most certainly richer in LA.

I check in with security quickly, my voice only a little croaky thanks to the frog in my throat, and head for the elevator bank at the far side of the lobby.

I’m to head to the fifteenth floor, I’m told, and then go straight down the hall to the glass doors on the left at the end. There, I’ll find William Capo’s office—the head honcho and only surviving brother of Capo Brothers.

My cowgirl boots are noisy on the marble floors when I do as instructed. The sound you make when you walk is such a small detail—one I don’t normally think about—but the echo of their clack today makes my heart feel like it’s knocking into my rib cage and each step across the ornate floor is merely a sound effect.

Fifteen floors eclipse quickly—clearly, they’ve spared no expense on their elevator—and the hallway that leads to William’s office seems strangely one-directional. Like once I go down it—once I take this step—there will be no going back. Which is probably why, after forcing myself to go the distance to the end, I pause at the open door, the points of my booted toes just shy of crossing the line.

“Good morning.” A pretty assistant dressed in a white power suit greets me before I’ve even cleared the threshold of the door, and all thoughts of escape are dashed. Like it or not, I’ve just been shoved over the line. I will my feet to do the same as she continues to speak. “Can I help you?”

“I’m Birdie Harris,” I answer and have to swallow hard against the dryness threatening to close my throat. “I have an audition.”

My nerves are so obvious, the assistant offers a sympathetic smile.

If she were from my childhood hometown in West Virginia, she’d most likely be thinking Bless her heart.

She taps something across the keyboard of her iMac and places her hand to the Bluetooth at her ear. “Mr. Capo, I have Birdie Harris here.” Immediately, she looks away from the computer and meets my eyes. “They’ll be ready for you shortly. You can take a seat over there.” She points behind me, back through the door and across the hall to what I’m assuming is a fancy-schmancy waiting room of some sort. I haven’t encountered a place in the building that doesn’t have some sort of gilded or marble inlay, so I highly doubt I’m going to step through that door and into a room styled by the set designer for Saw. Though, I can’t say some sort of torture device wouldn’t be completely misplaced right now. I’m already doing a pretty good job of mentally waterboarding myself with worry.

I offer a little nod, keeping my twisted, sicko thoughts to myself. I doubt they’re interested in hiring a woman on the brink of a hysterical episode.

The secretary quirks a brow, and I realize, though I’ve nodded my affirmation of understanding, I’ve yet to move.

Good God, Birdie! Go sit down.

Annoyed with myself, I turn on my boots and march across the hall so violently, it’s like there’s an invisible person helping me along with a heavy hand at the nape of my neck.

When I cross into the room, a man is sitting on a swanky leather sofa with his booted feet up on the coffee table. He glances up briefly before returning his eyes to the phone in his lap. Embarrassed, I smooth my clomps instantly.

You’re a gazelle, Birdie, not a herd of buffalo, I coach. Move like it.

With his attention occupied, I survey him more closely as I move to take a seat across from him. He’s wearing jeans and a plain white T-shirt, and his jawline would make steel beams look weak. Seriously. Confronted with an earthquake, I would seek shelter right under the eave of his jaw.

I’d love to get another peek at his eyes just to study the color, but fearing the eye contact that would require, I’m careful not to make any overt noises that might draw his attention again.

When he smirks, a devilish proposition-like smile at the screen of his phone, I don’t have to wonder anymore.

Oh no. I know exactly who this man is.

Andrew Watson.

The very man Rocky warned me about and I subsequently Instagram stalked. A laundry list of different women dotted through his timeline, it confirmed everything Rocky told me and then some.

All relaxed and cool, he sits on the white leather sofa with one arm outstretched across the back. Confidence and charm ooze from every freaking cell in his body. No doubt, Andrew Watson is more than capable of commanding the attention of everyone in the room, no matter the situation.

No wonder he’s one of Hollywood’s most famous actors.

The only time I have that kind of quiet confidence is when I’m onstage, singing my songs, lost in the music I created.

Just play it cool, Birdie.

On a deep breath, I force the uncertainty and unease out of my shoulders and settle my ass into the sofa across from him. He shifts again, crossing one ankle over the other and casually adjusting the denim at his crotch.

My eyes are immediately drawn to his bulge, and thanks to Rocky’s colorful descriptions of his favorite appendage, a little penis-shaped soldier is burned in my brain. After a few seconds of imagining the shape of his helmet and intensity of his salute, I jerk my gaze away in a panic.

Jesus. As if this audition wasn’t screwing with my head enough! Now I have Saving Ryan’s Privates, a military-themed porno my head just made up starring Staff Sergeant Dick Richardson, complicating things even more!

I must make a noise I don’t realize—the sound of my saliva gurgling in my throat while I choke on it, perhaps—because Andrew looks at me with curious eyes. I try like hell to keep my calm and act like I haven’t just gone to mental war with the soldier in his pants, but there’s only so much hysteria containment my mind is capable of.

“Uh…hi,” I say, trying so dang hard not to glance back down at his crotch that I start spewing diarrhea of the mouth about goddamn military-themed movies. “I never saw A Few Good Men, but I hear Tom Cruise was good in it.” When I realize what I’ve just said makes absolutely no sense to him—punctuated perfectly by his eyebrows drawing together noticeably—the gurgling saliva turns into a full-blown choke, and suddenly, the only way to breathe is through a hacking cough.

Holy shit, I’m too anxious to be around other humans right now! Also, I’m going to kill Rocky for putting this crap in my head about this guy’s penis.

“Are you okay?” he asks, and I hold up my hand in some kind of gesture. I’m not sure of its technical name, but its meaning is clear—please forget I exist right now.

He asks me once more, but I nod, and once the embarrassing coughing fit passes, I meet his piercingly gray-blue eyes—seeing their color is strikingly unavoidable now—and I offer a halfhearted smile.

“Sorry,” I apologize. I didn’t mean to drag him into an impromptu SNL sketch where I choke on spit and say ridiculously inappropriate, off-the-wall things. “I guess you could say I’m a little nervous.”

His responding smile gleams so bright, I have to wonder if he has an endorsement deal with Crest toothpaste. His mouth would make a dental hygienist get on their hands and knees and thank the Lord above.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. There’s no need to be nervous around me,” he responds, punctuating his words with a wink.

If my mind were a screenplay, the nerves would be exiting stage left.

Did he seriously just wink at me after assuming that I’m nervous to be in his presence?

Surely, I’m hearing this wrong. No one is that obsessed with themselves…right?

“Excuse me?” I ask, and his megawatt smile is still ever-present.

“If you’d like me to sign an autograph or take a selfie with you,” he enunciates slowly, as if my being able to understand him clearly was the problem. “I can probably sneak that in before I have to head in there.”

His autograph? You have got to be kidding me. He sure is a cocky bastard—and for the first time today, I’m not even talking about his dick.

Like the tip of a match being swiped across the edge of a matchbook, aggravation bursts into my veins.

“I’m here for an audition,” I assert.

Unfazed, he quirks a brow as if to say, my invitation for an autograph still stands.

Attractive or not, this guy is one of the biggest asses I’ve ever been around.

“I’m Birdie Harris. I’m auditioning for the role of Arizona Lee.”

And I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna land this acting gig just to spite this prick.

About Max Monroe

A duo of romance authors team up under the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling pseudonym Max Monroe to bring you sexy, laugh-out-loud reads.

Max Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than ten contemporary romance titles. Favorite writing partners and long time friends, Max and Monroe strive to live and write all the fun, sexy swoon so often missing from their Facebook newsfeed. Sarcastic by nature, their two writing souls feel like they’ve found their other half. This is their most favorite adventure thus far.

Connect with Max Monroe

BookBub: http://bit.ly/3bJFJJh

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ReoxkK

Facebook: http://bit.ly/31XxggS

Instagram: http://bit.ly/39wuCkW

Stay up to date with Max Monroe by joining their mailing list today: http://bit.ly/2HzGmau

Website: https://www.authormaxmonroe.com/

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 5 ⭐️ Review: Max Monroe’s Hate the Player ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Dear Max Monroe~

Thank you! Over and over again, thank you for offering up hours of laughter, tears, and sighs. Every Max Monroe book release is a guaranteed experience that allows you to disconnect from the crazy of life and invests you deeply in these zany characters that you cannot help but love. Even Andrew. Especially Andrew. 

Your newest book, Hate the Player, introduces us to one Andrew Watson. I’ll be honest. He does not make a good first impression. Player – check. Vain – check. Instigator of trouble – check. Birdie’s nemesis – check. Man, I love me an alpha-hole, but this guy is not that kind of hero. Instead, he’s the guy you can’t help but hate because he is self-centered and self-indulgent in ways that make you roll your eyes. In my opinion, he was quickly becoming my least favorite Max Monroe character. I was Birdie, your heroine. Rolling my eyes at every page and wishing I could read through and punch the guy square in the nose. Yet, you worked your Max Monroe magic midway through this delectable book, and you redeemed that jackhole. One minute, he made me want to throw your book against the wall at his self-absorption. The next minute, you finally showed us his humanity. At that moment, you reminded me again of your dynamic duo magic. How you write a character who seems so unlikeable one moment and make him a swoony beaut of a hero is the reason I adore your books, why I adored Hate the Player

Now, the other voodoo you wield is the ability to craft heroines that your readers are compelled to adore. It’s a requirement. Birdie is no different. Obviously, she’s smarter than Andrew given that she’s lived in the “real world” much longer than him. You give her a tenacity and a genuineness that makes you adore her from the start. It’s those qualities, along with her beauty, that obviously wins over the BMOS (Big Man on Set), but she, like your super duo, must wield those qualities as a weapon against Andrew’s idiocy. For most of the book, Birdie is my favorite character. It’s that last quarter of the book where Andrew and Birdie switch places a bit for me. She needs a little smack upside the head. Thankfully, you remind us of The Power of
Billie, and you made it alright for your readers. I love that Luca takes a back seat to the Billie Show. Smart man…But again, that’s all of your witchcrafting, Max Monroe. Your ability to create women who are smart, insightful, witty, and a little nutty allows for stories where the men have absolutely no chance against the power of women. Thank you for creating spaces for these incredible women. 

Lastly, thank you for making me belly laugh through Hate the Player. When you write sentences like “[h]e’s like the Oprah of Hollywood douchebags,” I bust a gut and I grow greedy for more of your brand of humor and romance. Even in the midst of the book’s romance angst, I know I can trust you to bring the humor again. And you don’t disappoint with this book. The humor, the insight, the $exy moments, and the ending (oh…man…that ending…<swoon>) conspire to bring about a whirlwind of a read. The only reason I put this book down is I had to complete a training for work. While I was in that training, I had serious withdrawal for this story because it’s just that good. Again, thank you! 

Max Monroe, you offer a respite from the doldrums of life. Whether we’re struggling to remember our mask to get a cup of coffee, on the cusp of strangling our spouse from too much time together in close quarters, or drowning in our kids’ school projects, your books allow us to escape to a place where love and laughs reign. Once again, Hate the Player creates a stay-cation from the zaniness of our world. And this reader says “thank you very much.”

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 5 ⭐️ Review: Devney Perry’s Quarter Miles ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

When Devney Perry’s second book, Wild Highway, of the Runaway series ended, I was left wanting. Here’s the thing about a Devney Perry book. She wraps up her books with a glorious happy ending for her hero and heroine. She does this so well that I like to think of her as the queen of the epilogue. For example, Letters to Molly’s ending is still my favorite epilogue EVER. With that, when Wild Highway ended, I needed her newest book, Quarter Miles, immediately. Alas, that wasn’t to be, so I waited patiently for an ARC (or the release day) for Katherine and Cash’s story. For some reason, I was drawn to Katherine’s story. I think it has something to do with the idea that we just want to be chosen. Whether it’s teams for kickball on the playground or an audition or a romantic interest, we want to be seen and understood and chosen. At the end of Wild Highway, it looked as though Cash, Katherine’s long term crush, had chosen someone else, and my heart felt heavy for her. As such, the promise of Quarter Miles’s story tugged at my soul as I waited patiently for it. When it finally arrived, I couldn’t get to it fast enough. And in true Devney Perry fashion, her story melted my heart. 

Devney Perry is my top recommended author to new readers for two very important reasons: (1) her story shines before her steam (this means people such as my older mom can read her and I don’t blush too much) and (2) her storytelling is such that you want to reside in her books. It doesn’t matter which series Perry writes I want to live in her books because her characters feel believable with the added fiction of romance. That feels both relational and titillating. And every reader whom I have recommended Perry has fallen deeply in love with her storytelling. That’s a testament to Perry’s craftsmanship. 

Quarter Miles is no different than any of her other books in terms of Perry’s skill at developing characters who we feel a connection. From the beginning of Quarter Miles, Perry makes Katherine’s disappointment in life palpable. You want her to take this journey, the third leg of delivering the Cadillac. You need her to remove herself from her situation for a time, so that she can either move on or Cash realizes he actually sees her as more than a sister. When he invites himself on the journey, you feel discouragement because you want Katherine to have that space to examine and reflect on her life. You empathize with Katherine because Perry creates her to feel like your friend. This may sound simplistic, but it’s the best reason I can conjure for why Perry’s books are always one-click preorders for me. Her characters’ experiences feel like my experiences. As Katherine’s journey progresses, and she and Cash complicate their friendship, her pain and confusion feel important. Perry’s magic at crafting real characters allows you to imagine her struggles, and they become your own in a way. For me, that is the power of writing, and that power is illustrated time and time again in Perry’s books. 

Now, Cash is one of my favorite types of heroes. He is well-meaning. He is kind and thoughtful, but he is blind. Quite frankly, be prepared because he wears blinders for much of the story. However, from a reader’s standpoint, we see him drawn to Katherine, protective of her. Perry holds him back, though, from recognizing his true feelings, so that tension necessary for creating compelling stories is present in the story. In many ways, it’s delicious because it keeps you engaged in the book, but it also creates the angst that makes your stomach nervous and brings tears to your eyes. Through Cash and Katherine’s journey, your feelings run the gamut, one minute you feel happy for their potential coupling, and the next, you note Katherine’s despair. As I’ve noted before in other reviews of books, for me, invoking the feelings of your readers is a testament to a writer’s skill, and Perry’s skill is keen. 

Just like she did at the end of Wild Highway, Quarter Miles leaves us pining for more. This group of runaways with wounds so deep from their past find healing, and you long for their journeys because they remind us that we can find our own healing in our relationships with others. As we move into the next book, Forsaken Trail, Aria’s story, we can trust that Devney Perry will lead us through the minefield of emotions to an ending that feels like a promise for all of us. 

In love and romance,

Professor A