Reading Recap

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s January 2023 Romance Reads ✍🏻

January 2023 saw a BOON in romance reads!

These are the books I read, and many of them are 5 ⭐️ reads. This doesn’t even include some audiobooks (Kristen Ashley owns my Audible right now) that have captured my time. 📚

Cover Reveal

✍🏻 I’m so excited for Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s The Rules of Dating My Best Friend’s Sister, coming April 3, 2023. Check out the cover here! ✍🏻

Title: The Rules of Dating My Best Friend’s Sister
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear Creative
Photographer: Ashraf El Bahrawi
Model: Giorgos Mavrogiannis, @gio_mavrogiannis
Release Date: April 3, 2023
From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes a new standalone romance.
Rule number one for dating your best friend’s sister: Don’t.
Just don’t do it.
Especially when your best friend is dead and the last thing he made you promise him was that you’d keep an eye on his little sister, but not too good of an eye.
As a musician whose longest committed relationship was six weeks, I, Holden Catalano, was the last guy on Earth who should’ve been messing around with Laney Ellison.
The super smart girl whom I affectionately dubbed Lala since childhood was always off limits.
Though that didn’t stop me from thinking about her over the years, especially those times when the two of us would sneak out onto the roof and talk for hours after my buddy fell asleep. It was innocent, but I’d always held a torch for her.
After Ryan passed away, I vowed to always protect Lala. That included protecting her—from me.
Now all grown up and a scientist, Lala needed a place to stay when she accepted a temporary research position in New York. I thought I did the right thing by offering her an apartment in the building I co-owned with my three friends.
Except having her close by reignited all of those old feelings.
And things started to get complicated.
Especially since she was engaged.
And especially since, lately, I’d noticed something more in her eyes. Desire.
Lala didn’t exactly look at me like the platonic brother figure I was trying so desperately to be, even though I wanted her more than I’d ever wanted anything.
Yet, I was being good—on my very best behavior.
But you know what they say…all good things must come to an end, right?
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Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles are currently translated in twenty-seven languages and have appeared on bestseller lists in the US, Germany, Brazil, Bulgaria and Hungary. Three of her short stories have been turned into films by Passionflix, and two of her books are currently optioned for movies. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over thirty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
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Cover Reveal

✍🏻 Pippa Grant’s The Officers’ Ex-Wives Club Series has NEW covers. Check out this cuteness overload. ✍🏻

The Officers’ Ex-Wives Club Series
Author: Pippa Grant
writing as Jamie Farrell
Genre: Military Romantic Comedy
Cover Design: Najla Qamber
This sexy military pilot is about to meet his match in an unpredictable former beauty queen!
Kaci Boudreaux is every Southern mama’s nightmare, including her own. This former Miss Grits would rather tromp around in boots shooting off potato guns—and her mouth—than dress pretty and play nice with the boys. Especially her chauvinistic fellow professors, her ex-husband, and those military cargo pilots she’s at war with after a pumpkin chunkin’ disaster.
Lance Wheeler is every Southern belle’s dream, except his ex-fiancé’s. After being left at the altar, he’d love to take his C-130 and fly far, far away. But since he and his bird technically belong to Uncle Sam, a distraction in the form of a feisty fireball of a physics professor will do while he’s waiting for his next deployment with the Air Force.
He’s into her for the fun. She’s into him for the challenge. But when their secrets and fears start slipping out, their hearts—and even her job—will be on the line. She needs roots. He wants to see the world. What will they do about needing each other?
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She’s newly single and determined to never fall for a military man again.
He’s a sexy officer who doesn’t believe in love.
And they think they can handle a no-strings relationship.
Bless their hearts.
She’s no damsel in distress
Anna Martin’s newly single and determined to never fall for a military man again. So when Mr. Swoony, sweep-her-off-her-feet saves her from a swarm of fire ants, she says thank you and sends this officer and gentleman on his merry way. But those dang butterflies in her stomach won’t stop swarming now. She needs to get this man out of her system stat so she can get back to her to do list. One that does not include a sexy, blue-eyed, dimple-cheeked military officer.
He’s a knight in camouflage armor
Jackson Davis believes in family, football, and Uncle Sam. He treats people right, he takes his military uniform seriously, and he loves his dog, but he’s not built for true love. After all, if a man good as his daddy—his hero—couldn’t do it right, what chance does Jackson have?
And they think they can keep friends-with-benefits as a no-strings affair
Sometimes it’s best to just give in and get it out of your system. Right? Neither of them are looking for anything long-term. It could be fun…Bless their Hearts. They’re both gonna end up with a big ol’ case of Southern Fried Blues.
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Pippa Grant is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes romantic comedies that will make tears run down your leg. When she’s not reading, writing or sleeping, she’s being crowned employee of the month as a stay-at-home mom and housewife trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, all the while fantasizing about long walks on the beach with hot chocolate chip cookies.
blog tour

✍🏻 CD Reiss’s Fake Crowne has been out for three days, and I want more people to read it so we can talk about it. Want a little nibble of it? Read an excerpt below. ✍🏻

Fake Crowne, an all-new fake-relationship, billionaire romance standalone from New York Times bestselling author CD Reiss is available now! 

How can I let him destroy everything he’s worked for just to make me happy?

I’m a singer with stage fright who’s famous for…well…nothing yet. And I promised my family if I didn’t make it big by the end of this year, I’d go back to med school.

My agent thinks Colton and I would be a great team both in the studio, and outside of it—especially if label executives think we’re dating.

The rules? We can kiss in public, but not in private.

We can act like we’re doing the deed, as long as we’re not.

And as far as having actual feelings for each other goes…that’s obviously out of the question.

But after so many late nights in the studio and a bunch of stolen kisses, I start to see beyond his party boy facade to something real underneath. And he believes in me–with his coaching and encouragement, I’m finally overcoming my anxiety and giving the best performances of my life.

If only time wasn’t running out so fast.

Then Colton has an idea to keep us together. It’s terrible, but it’s the only way.

How can I let him destroy everything he’s worked for just to make me happy?

Start reading today!


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I watch him move into the shadows. The lights that line the edge of the walk go on as he passes. My phone buzzes, so I check it before driving off. It’s Liam.

 —look what showed up on DMZ—

A photo slides in. It’s screenshot from DMZ and a link. A picture of Colton pushing me against my car and me grabbing his jacket. Everything else is cut out. Liam. Gene. It’s shot from a little above, through a windshield.

 The headline under it reads: HAS COLTON CROWNED THE NEXT TAMIKA? 

What? I tap the link. The article is short and breathless. Colton Crowne, who “discovered” Tamika in Memphis and who was “viciously” cut from credit or royalties by Gavin McCormick, may be nursing the next baby star into the sky. 

They don’t even know I’m a musician. 

I could be a lawyer or an accountant. 

But that wouldn’t get clicks. No one cares about that story. 

Liam follows with a text. 

—You guys—

Colton is on the chat. I look at the driveway. The path lights have gone dark, but I can see him standing there, looking down with the screen glowing on his face. 

“Fuck!” he barks, moving enough to turn on the lights. 

That’s when I know he’s seen Liam’s messages. He looks at me and, seeing I haven’t moved, jogs over while his brother’s texts ding.

 —This is gold-plated—

—A gift from the gods—

—We’re on second base before we even get to the plate—

Colton stops. Types into his phone. 

—What are you talking about?—

—You guys together in public coronates Skye—

This feels more real than when Liam mentioned it before.

I don’t have long to do something…anything…or I have to fulfill my promise to my mother and take up last year’s deferment to University of Michigan Medical School. Being coronated, as Liam calls it, makes that possible. Without an electric shock to the process, I don’t have a chance. I’m dead in the water. Pursuing a music career and med school at the same time isn’t possible without a clone. 

But I want clarity, so I text the chat. 

—You mean you really want us to pretend we’re fucking?—

I hit Send before I rethink the word fucking to describe what I’m not doing with Colton, who answers from halfway back to the car. 

—That’s what he means—

He could have told me that himself. Instead he stands there as Liam’s message comes in. 

—That’s what I mean—

I’m about to text that I’m in. I’ll do it. I’m thrilled actually. But it’s not just about me, so I wait for Colton to come to me. I open the passenger window. He doesn’t come. Instead, he sends a message. 

—You know Gene took this right? From the angle?—

I look back at the photo. Yeah. It was taken from the SUV before Gene got out. Maybe he took it to get evidence in case he’d hit anyone or maybe he was thinking that fast. That’s secondary to the fact that it found its way to a gossip website. 

A notification drops over the picture. A text from Colton. 

—So, no. Fuck him. No—

Once that comes in, I look at him as he puts the phone in his pocket and starts back my way. 

I want to be coronated. I want it to be easy. I need the boost to start before the walls close in. 

They’ve been closing in for months. Ever since last year when I applied. Before that, when I took the MCAT without studying. I thought I was so clever, setting myself up for failure. I wasn’t clever enough to get the answers wrong though. 

That’s fine. It’s fine. I’m okay with it. Screw the coronation. I can’t make Colton do something he doesn’t want to do. He has every right to refuse. But I’m still reeling from the transition between hope and regret. For a minute, I was in a world where I had a head start and I’m just as suddenly back in the status quo. 

He’s coming this way. I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to hear the reasons he thinks it’s a bad idea. Not right now, because he’s probably right and I just want to sit in my disappointment alone. 

Before he reaches the car, I drive away.

Learn more about CD Reiss and her releases by visiting her website:


✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 5 ⭐️ Review: Jewel E. Ann’s Before Us ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

“Love is not good at chasing expectations. It thrives on acceptance.”

Jewel E. Ann’s Before Us is a poignant, heart-rending story about timing and soulmates. As I sit here trying to put this review together, the phrase “hits and misses” keeps running through my mind. Many of Jewel E. Ann’s (who I will refer to as JEA for the duration of this review) play with timing. Her characters oftentimes aren’t “meant to be” during a specific time and place, so she separates them and brings them back together when “the time is right.” But really she isn’t noting a “right” time; she’s simply challenging us to consider the options of life. 

In Before Us, JEA challenges us to consider soulmates. Are we fated for one person for the rest of our lives? Or is it possible to love different people with the same gravity of love at different moments? In fact, she shows us this clearly in this book, and you don’t ever doubt the veracity of it. She is careful in her construction of this, though. Her choices about timing, I think, are why I adore her stories. She knows her readers and intentionally crafts a chronology that allows us to accept tropes such as cheating (that trope isn’t in this story) or her MMC marrying her FMC shortly after the death of his wife. She deftly highlights the difficulty of perception in an incredibly uncomfortable moment in the story. She doesn’t allow her characters to “get away” with their choices; JEA metes out consequences for them. So it creates this lovely balance between reality and fiction.

In Before Us, JEA challenges us with the idea of dreams. What is a dream? Can dreams change as life happens? Should one character usurp another character’s dreams? What about one character supposing they know the dreams of the other character better than they know it for themselves? I found Zach and Emersyn’s journey around this idea most frustrating but necessary. I wanted to scream at Zach to stop sacrificing and take for himself. The tension of his choices compelled me through the story, however. 

I just want to stop right here. I have too many words to describe why readers should read Jewel E. Ann’s Before Us, and they seem insufficient. Emersyn’s story is the reality of our world. Young people are homeless and have to sacrifice for basic needs…and it’s all here in this book. Zach’s journey illustrates the grief process. How does one process the death of a loved one? Even more, how does one love someone who is terminally ill, having to make choices that feel devastating so they can find peace? It’s all here. All that is lovely and painful and life-affirming is in Before Us. Jewel E. Ann once again shows us why she is a beloved author in the world of romance through her beautiful storytelling in this book. 

In love and romance,

Professor A

new release

✍🏻 Welcome back to romancelandia, J. Daniels! Who’s ready to jump into The Tragedy of Felix and Jake? I know I am! ✍🏻

The Tragedy of Felix and Jake by J. Daniels
Release Date: February 02, 2023



From New York Times bestselling author, J. Daniels, comes an all-new standalone forbidden romance.

They say the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.
They say the best way to stay sober is to love yourself.

I’m great at making bad decisions.
Addict? Check. Poor impulse control? Check. Obsessed with the guy I’m sponsoring? Check Check Check.
There is no one worse for me to want in my bed than Jake Tully. He’s hot and grumpy and literally a terrible idea. Terrible. Worse, no one has ever made me feel the way he does — valued. But here I am – thinking about him again.

Falling for my sponsor is not my worst idea yet, but it’s damn close.
Felix Fields is everything good. He’s thoughtful and kind. I can’t help but think about every bad thing we could do between these sheets.
But we can’t be together. I’m not willing to risk my recovery for anyone – even if he might be perfect for me.

Finding a love like this is nothing short of a tragedy.

Free with Kindle Unlimited
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J. Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Alabama Summer, Dirty Deeds and Sweet Addiction series.

Best known for her sexy, small-town romances, her debut novel, Sweet Addiction, was first published in 2014 and went on to become an international bestseller. Since then, she has published more than ten novels, including the Dirty Deeds series with Forever Romance.

Daniels grew up in Baltimore and currently lives in Maryland with her husband and three kids. A former full-time Radiologic Technologist, she began writing romance after college and quickly discovered a passion for it. You’ll still catch her in scrubs every now and then, but most of her time is spent writing these days—a career she is eternally grateful for.

Always an avid reader, Daniels enjoys books of all kinds, but favors Romance (of course) and Fantasy. She loves hiking, traveling, going to the mountains for the weekend, and spending time with her family.

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✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4.5 ⭐️ Review: CD Reiss’s Fake Crowne, a Crowne Brothers romance ✍🏻

Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️

Tropes: fake relationship; work romance; LA romance; contemporary romance; billionaire brothers; band of brothers

Bear with me as I ramble about CD Reiss’s newest Crowne family story, Fake Crowne. There’s so much I want to say, but it’s not organized or probably even insightful; however, I need to say it anyway. 

Reiss is attempting (I actually believe she did it — but I really want to hear from people) to capture a voice in romancelandia that is burgeoning: the voice of the later Millenials or the older Gen Zers. I’ve been thinking about this generation in romancelandia. They live in a different world than the former generations, and they connect in spaces that are visual and muted. They’ve been raised with trauma infused into their systems and parents who have recognized that and created safe spaces to fall. All of that has conspired to build people with mental health struggles. How does this generation fall in love? It’s both the same and different from the past. And CD Reiss builds the space and unspoken words into the relationship between Colton Crowne and Skye. 

As I was reading this book, I was imagining my son’s voice as Skye’s voice. They have very similar mental health struggles, and Reiss elaborated on them in a real way. Both Colton and Skye are overwhelmed by and push against parental expectations. Colton rebels against it, while Skye contends with them within a set of stifling boundaries she sets for herself. Through this struggle, Colton and Skye forge a fake relationship, upend their own set boundaries of that relationship, and fall in love on their own terms. This is CD Reiss imagining correctly, I think, a love forged in the 21st century by people who simply don’t know the depth of their future. They’ve either denied themselves, rebelled against tradition and expectation, or made concessions to avoid failure. 

In fact, that seems to be the battle cry of Fake Crowne: “There’s something comforting about failure. Like I don’t have to be responsible for my work or my choices because…whoops, I failed, color me shocked. Oh well, no big deal. And it’s easy, right? I don’t have to improve. I don’t have to face the next stage. I don’t have to learn. […] I’m weak, but sometimes weak is a choice.” Through Colton and Skye’s journeys, Reiss suggests that we can treat life in one of three ways: play it safe; fail incredibly and stay down; or fail on some level and get up and try again. Each of these has consequences, and Reiss illustrates it beautifully through Colton and Skye’s falling in love. 

Are Reiss’s style and storytelling flair all over this book? Yep. In fact, as I read this book, I felt like it straddled her Crowne Brothers series and her Hollywood A-List/Star-Crossed/Lead Me Back stories. It’s very LA…and freaking Gene Testarossa is back wreaking havoc. Given I’m a So. California girl, I love Reiss’s characterization of LA for her readers. But her knack for wordsmithing and her infusion of spice and steam are encompassed in this book. 

Please…read Fake Crowne and tell me she’s capturing some of Gen Z in it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not of that generation. I simply need more stories in it so we keep Gen Z readers gobbling books, and they need to find themselves in the books that are served. And I believe CD Reiss has done it with her newest book. 

In love and romance,

Professor A

Sorry for the rambly quality of the review. I just had so many words to say about this book.


✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4.5 ⭐️ Review: Devney Perry’s Jasper Vale, a The Edens romance ✍🏻

Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️

Tropes: fake marriage; marriage of convenience; Vegas wedding; opposites attract; grump/sunshine; wealthy MMC; found family; romantic suspense elements

I’ve been sitting on my review for Devney Perry’s newest book in her The Edens series, Jasper Vale. Trying to find the words to express my adoration for this story isn’t easy because it’s a story that feels a bit like a departure for Perry. Yes, this is a Vegas mistaken wedding turned fake marriage. It’s a common trope, but Perry’s books sparkle, by my estimation, from start to finish. And Jasper Vale reads grittier. In fact, I think it’s one of her $exiest books in that her main characters, Jasper and Eloise, simply can’t help themselves around each other. $ex comes first for this couple out of a pure chemical connection. Jasper is bossy and super-alpha, and it’s titillating and $exy in all the best romancelandia ways. And it feels so different from Perry’s usual fare, at least with recent stories. I loved Jasper and Eloise’s struggles. 

For one, they are opposites. Jasper’s life is one big secret for everyone. It’s not healthy in the least, and it informs how he responds to Eloise’s family in the face of their surprising marriage. This is unlike the other partners of the Edens who fit so seamlessly into the Eden family. And I liked the trepidation and discomfort of his first meeting because he responds to them out of a protectiveness and compassion for Eloise as well as the experiences of his past. Jasper is one of the darkest Perry characters, I believe. 

Eloise is the sunshine to Jasper’s grump. She is his light. Perry puts her through her paces in this story as she must mine for Jasper’s secret gold, surrounded by an almost impenetrable wall. For every step forward, Eloise finds herself taking a step back. This tango both wrings out the heart of the readers and sets up the anticipation of the eventuality of their relationship: pure love. It takes much of Jasper Vale to get to this point with quite a bit of heartache woven into the story. 

So Jasper Vale reads like this: surprise, $ex, silence, separation, $ex, a building of a nugget of vulnerability, confusion, more $ex, silence, $ex, secrets revealed, deeper involvement, $ex, drama, reconciliation, healing, abiding love. Or at least something like this with more $ex added in. 

Perry’s Jasper Vale is a revelation to me. I still think she needs to work on the last 10% of her stories because she deftly develops her plot but the endings always seem rushed, at least until the epilogue and bonus epilogue. Those are always pure gold; however, the falling action and resolution of the inciting incident(s) of her plot points always read underdeveloped to me. Or maybe I want to sit longer with characters like Eloise and Jasper. Bottom line: Devney Perry’s Jasper Vale is MY favorite The Edens romance.

In love and romance,

Professor A


✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 5 ⭐️ Review: Catherine Cowles’s Whispers of You, book 1 of The Lost & Found series ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Tropes: small-town romance; second chance romance; romantic suspense; forced proximity; found family; band of brothers

Have you ever seen that episode of Grey’s Anatomy where the active shooter invades the hospital? The one that incites terror in you as you watch it. I will never forget that episode of television. Catherine Cowles’s Whispers of You has shades of that episode with its compelling, terror-inducing hook, incremental slow-burn second chance journey, and the story twist that you don’t quite see coming. For me, Whispers of You is my favorite Catherine Cowles story of her recent stories. In simple terms, this book is the rib-eye of books to her former porterhouse stories. Whispers of You held me in its thrall and engaged me to the very last page of her bonus epilogue.

Here’s the why:

  1. The hook of this book is terrifying and heartbreaking. Don’t let that dissuade you from reading it. Like I said earlier, it felt inspired by that emotional and anxiety-inducing episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I originally read this book’s beginning in one of last year’s books, and I couldn’t WAIT to read Whispers of You because of it. 
  2. I adore a resilient character. Wren is the embodiment of it. Instead of becoming a victim who lives in the shadow of her trauma, she becomes an advocate, instead. Holt is lucky to earn her heart because, honestly, she is too good for him given his choices. Cowles grants Colt grace for these choices due to his age. But had this been real life, he might not have won over his love. 
  3. The balance, however, of this story is Holt’s capacity to love and cherish Wren. Once he recognizes his former short-sightedness, he’s a delicious male character: all alpha-hero with a protective streak. Cowles deftly balances Wren’s strength and resilience with Holt’s adoration and compassion. So incredibly good!
  4. I didn’t see the depth of Cowles’s revelation coming. Yep. I’m usually attuned to the story, but I gasped at the story’s twist. I love that Cowles doesn’t take it easy on her reader.

Catherine Cowles knows herself as a writer as well as the interests of her fans. Whispers of You was an unputdownable read. It was impossible to walk away from Wren and Holt because their story is just that compelling. Fans of small-town romantic suspense – this story is for you! Oh, and there’s an impressive husky to boot!

In love and romance,

Professor A

new release

✍🏻 Watch out! Jasper Vale will steal your heart. Grab Devney Perry’s next The Edens story, Jasper Vale, today! ✍🏻

 Jasper Vale by Devney Perry is now live! 

Eloise Eden’s pride and joy is her family’s hotel in Quincy, Montana. Her lifelong dream is to own The Eloise Inn. All she has to do is prove to her parents that she’s the epitome of responsible. That her days of being duped and making reckless decisions are history. She’s so close she can taste it.

Until after one weekend in Las Vegas, she comes home married to a stranger.

Jasper must have put her under a spell with those soul-deep eyes because after a single night together, they woke up husband and wife. Her only hope is to keep this marriage a secret until it’s annulled. Then she’ll pretend it never happened.

Except Jasper begs her to stay married. To fake it for three months so she can accompany him to a wedding. Maybe she’s lost her mind to agree. But her brooding husband seems desperate. It’s only three months, right? Then she’ll say goodbye to Jasper Vale, and with any luck, hello to her new hotel.

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Meet Devney

Devney is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in Washington with her husband and two sons. Born and raised in Montana, she loves writing books set in her treasured home state. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her family. Writing one book, let alone many, was not something she ever expected to do. But now that she’s discovered her true passion for writing romance, she has no plans to ever stop.

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