Thursday, January 31, 2019

Give Me Something I Can Feel by B. Love


Give Me Something I Can Feel by B. Love
Image result for three and a half star rating
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Charlie White is probably the most bubbly, charismatic, and friendly person one could ever meet. After getting a second chance at life via a new heart, Charlie vowed to make the most out of life – no matter what cards she has been given. 

Knight Carver is probably the most angry, guarded, and anti-social person one could ever meet. After losing his mother because of diabetes complications, Knight vowed to never lose another person he loved – he detached himself from the rest of his family completely. 

When Knight returns to Memphis during the NBA off season, his 16-year-old pregnant sister needs all the help she can get. Charlie’s bedside service for expecting mothers is just the help Knight and Harlem both need. 

Although he fights it, Charlie’s personality and beautiful smile immediately melt Knight’s stone heart. He refuses to let her or anyone else know that, though. It doesn’t matter how attracted to her he is, or how drawn to her he finds himself, Knight has no plans of loving someone only to have them ripped from his hands like his mother was. 

Because of their meeting, one of their hearts will be changed forever. Charlie has the chance to use her love to give Knight something he hasn’t felt in years, or allow the stress of his pessimistic attitude to damage the heart she waited anxiously for. That’s what love does, you know? It fills you with empowering strength, or makes you devastatingly weak. 

What will be the outcome for these two? 

In this book, it was less about the story and more about the meaning.
The underlying love of God and love of love and the love of one’s self makes this novel stand out.

Of course, I loved Charlie and Knight, who wouldn’t? But it’s what was weaved throughout the story that endeared the story to my heart.

Knight lost his Mom at a young age. It caused him to lose his faith, his ability to love, and it had him running from the only family he had left.

 Charlie is all sunshine and bubbles but life hasn’t always been good to her. Heart problems almost took Charlie out but by the grace of God and through a random stranger's kindness—she has a second chance at life.

With a budding business, and a heart of gold—Charlie through a teenage pregnancy captures the heart of Knight—the anti-social, gentle not-so-gentle giant—and what we’re left with is a love that will touch even the hardest heart of readers.

I liked this story—B. Love has written some decent stories, and this is no different. 

A slow-building but obvious romance, a spunky soon-to-be teen mom, and a couple dead set against love made this story enjoyable to read. 

Love that takes effort and is not easy makes for the best kind of romance novels. I’d take a hard slow build over a quick satisfactory insta-love novel any day. 

The conflict comes very close to the end of the novel—though the characters give us some push back, you don’t have to deal with a lot of useless or ongoing arguing—which is a plus in my book.

Though this is not my favorite of Love’s, it was worth reading and I feel invested enough to read Harlem’s story—which comes after this, so that’s a win.

Short version: Slow-build romance. Two bleeding hearts meet, a pregnant teen eggs the two on, familial issues lead to conflict, love brings a resolution, and a baby brings the happy ending.

Recommended for romance lovers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Thief by B. Love: The Thief Comes Only to Steal Kill and Destroy


Thief by B. Love
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Thief: A person who steals another person's property, especially by stealth and without using force or violence. 
Luca Kareem and Riana Santee made an exchange a little over eight years ago - a heart for a heart. 
Riana had no problem relinquishing her heart to Luca, but Luca preferred spreading his love and his body thinly to almost every attractive woman he came in contact with. After a year of warring for a place in his heart, Riana finally gives up, but when Luca leaves her, he takes her heart with him. 
Riana Santee and Herbert Jacks made an exchange a little under seven years ago - a life for a life. 
Herbert had no problem-saving Riana's life, knowing that one day, she'd be able to return the favor in the most lethal way. She'd become a heartless, emotionally detached hit-woman, stealing the hearts of men on her path just for fun. It's when Riana chooses to leave her life of crime that Herbert decides to cash in on that last lethal favor. 
When Luca and Riana's paths cross again, Riana has the opportunity to not only reclaim her heart but stop Luca's as well. There's just one problem; the Luca of now is not the Luca from back then. This Luca has the ability to not only return Riana's heart but make her love him twice as deeply with it as well. Will Riana finally receive her revenge, or will she end up losing more than she ever thought was possible because of her love for Luca Kareem? 
Rating Breakdown:
Characters:Image result for three and a half star rating
Writing:Image result for three and a half star rating
Romance Factor:Image result for four star rating
Steam Factor:Image result for three  star rating

I’ve grown somewhat used to or expectant of these emotional tales from Love. 
I love her overall penchant for emotionally charged reads that bring to the forefront, faith, 
love (relationship, friendship or paternal) and self-love.

Riana was just a girl on a path to love with a man not quite ready to give it to her. So, instead
of being led to a life of children, love and new beginning she’s left without all of that and 
a heart set on destroying men in her wake—thus creating the Femme Fatale.

Luca gave Riana his heart. He might have hurt her in the process, but she would always 
have his heart, even if he wasn’t ready to fully give himself up.

Their powerful and sometimes toxic love turned them into people they hardly
recognized and what the reader gets, as a result, is a tale of love that is dangerous, 
even deadly—one that the ending is not expected.

I liked this story, though I’m going, to be honest, I hate the word Pooh as a term of 
endearment. Give me the basics, baby, sweetheart even honey. But, Luca referring to
 Riana as his Pooh often and for me, it took some of the “punch” the lines could have had.
That’s a personal thing, if you don’t mind the off-brand nicknames then go forth 
and prosper(read).

Outside of that, I liked the emotional tug and the second chance at love this book displayed.
Secondary characters seemed insignificant in the grand scheme of the story. I can hardly
 remember them, that is outside of the sweet little girl that takes to Riana because she 
reminds her of a fairy.

Emotional, quick-moving and to the point, Thief is B. Love’s usual caliber of a novel,
 one that desires to stir up the emotions and get you excited for love and happy endings.

I loved the quotes and lyrics at the beginning of each section,  they served to further each 
chapters depth and to make the small interlude a nice place to prep for what lies ahead.

This was closer to my faves from her (Will U Still Want Me and In Due Time in terms of
characters and emotion. 

Recommended to readers that love their romance with a contemporary hood flair.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Say You'll Never Leave by Chelsea Maria:Abusive Types Are Not My Jam


Say You'll Never Leave
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If I tell you how I feel, will you keep bringing out the best in me? - Sade 


He gave me love. The sweetest taboo my lips ever tasted. He opened my eyes to see that if I gave him the sweetest part of me, he would keep on loving me. So I gave until the wells of my water ran dry. Now I'm empty and he's ready to replenish. The echo of my beating heart reminds me that he left us because he was afraid. Unwilling to change my name from Worthy to Secret, I said goodbye. 


She said I Do and eloped her soul to me when she moaned my name. Time and time again, I gave her an open door. A chance to run and not be chained to me. But in the end, it was me who snuck out through the back door and cowardly walked away without so much as a goodbye. 


We promised each other forever. I won't allow him to hurt me again. 


I need her to trust me with her heart again. The quiet storm called "Us" is brewing, and it never felt so hot. 
Rating Breakdown:
Characters:Image result for two and a half stars rating
Writing:Image result for three  star rating
Romance Factor:Image result for two star rating
Steam Factor:Image result for two and a half stars rating

I judge books by their characters, not by their covers--and these characters, these characters I'm not so sure about.

Samiyah is dragged back to her hometown by her best friend-- the problem is she goes back kicking and screaming, and ready to go. She vowed never to return, not after the love of her life kept her a secret and broke her heart. But, she's back--but she's only back for herself, that man, he can stay far away from her.

Gavin made a mistake, a mistake that cost him the love of his life. He vowed that if he ever saw her again, he'd never let her go, everyone else's opinions be damned.

NOW, I am here for the man going back and getting the woman he never should have let go, but if it means dealing with a "do as I say," temperamental kind of man--I'm going to have to give it a hard no.

Gavin was giving me abusive, controlling man vibes. If any man at any time gets angry enough to put his hands around a woman's throat, whether she's an enemy or not, red flags go off, like an SOS in the sky. Blink twice for help. Run for your life. Abort mission.

At no point is this attractive, and whether or not the anger is directed at me or someone else, it is a RED FLAG. Granted, Gavin is fictional, but because of his abusive and controlling ways, I found it hard not only to like his character but to connect with the romance that involved him. I can't romanticize abusive patriarchal men who in an effort to get what they want from a woman forget the importance of respecting her, and her decisions--which is what I felt Gavin did. He stalked her, it was innocent--but still questionable. He forced his way into her spaces which I normally find kind of endearing but for some reason when Gavin did it, it felt like a father coming into the space of a child---if that makes sense at all.

I had no qualms with the way it was written, or the pacing, or any of the general things that make a book a book, but Gavin was not it for me.

Samiyah, she was okay. I admired her spirit, and I loved that she was a budding entrepreneur out here getting coins in these streets, but her flip-floppy ways did at some points make me want to shake her up.

The love they had was difficult, it was at times hard to understand, and even love but it does end happily, so there's that.

Emotionally there was a lot of trepidation about what could go wrong, and it kept the characters apart, though most of the hesitation came from Samiyah--and for some readers, hard-headedness is their least favorite, and she was definitely that. I didn't mind it too much, though again like I said I could have shaken her up some of the time.

All in all, it's a decent read but with a semi-abusive man at the helm, I could've said no to this one.

Recommended to readers who like head-strong men, and second chance romance.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Love and Loopholes By Railyn Stone: A Contractual Romance With A Slow Burn


Love And Loopholes by Railyn Stone
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Business brought them together. Love could tear them to pieces.

A knight in shining armor can’t come fast enough for Kirby Allen. Broke and on her own, she longs for the chance to live a better life. Without a stable place to live and no money to her name, she has to do something and fast.

Familial pride and a sense of tradition fuel Channing Lucas’ desire to run his father’s company. There is just one thing standing in his way. 

His eccentric mother and her ultimatum. Get married or lose his family’s business forever. 

After a predetermined ‘chance meeting’ in a Las Vegas casino, Channing and Kirby decide they can both get what they want and enter into a business deal. What starts as a marriage of convenience, evolves into complications neither expected. And the strangers find themselves fighting not only to maintain their deal, but struggling to hold on to their hearts.
Rating Breakdown:
Characters:Image result for five star rating
Writing:Image result for four star rating
Romance Factor:Image result for four star rating
Steam Factor:Image result for three  star rating

Talk about slow burn. Love and Loopholes did not give you sweet quick and fast. No insta-love is to be found where. What you get is a slow burn style romance that went on for pages before you got that sweet first kiss—and in this case, it couldn’t happen soon enough.

Kirby is having a rough go of things. Her job doesn’t pay enough—not to mention enough hours to supplement her lack of pay. On top of it all, she has no place to go except for her friend Gina’s which is almost the same as being homeless.

Channing has all he’s ever wanted except the reins to his dead father’s business. His eclectic mother agrees to give him her share and the entirety of the business if he does one thing—marry a total stranger, by midnight that night.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, this is where Kirby literally steps in. A chance meeting at a casino puts the two together, legally, wed, and bound by a contract.

Kirby and Channing were a charming couple. I’m always a fan of the enemies to lovers trope. It’s my absolute favorite. I don’t know what it is I love about difficult men in books but I adore a hard-shelled man which Channing was to his core. I love the brooding and the adversity to love. I guess it’s because I know that he’s secretly eager to love and whatever woman he’s with will rock him to his core. I love watching that happen.

I was worried at beginning of the book because it started moving fairly quickly and that always concerns me. But, once you get to the core of the story (the contract) things slowed down and gave us that delicious slow burn we all (most of us) love. 

I’m glad this author approached me for review because her writing is solid, her story had smooth and believable progression, and it had the kind of romance I crave and root for. 

Not to mention the sexy times though few were passionate and stayed away from doing too much. It was not overwhelming and fit the timing and the story well.

It was honestly done well. I don’t have any complaints. A decent story where the billionaire gets the girl and they both get the love they thought they didn’t deserve.

Recommended for billionaire trope lovers.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Wonder by Christina C. Jones: Alice in Wonderland Gets The Black Magic Treatment

Wonder by Christina C. Jones
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It all came down to me. 

The one who followed the rules never went looking for trouble – I kept to myself. I just wanted to take care of my family. To not constantly look over my shoulder, worried about the things that went bump in the night. 

I just wanted to survive. 

But that wasn’t meant to be. 

As luck – or fate, or something – would have it, the trouble found me. 

I followed a rabbit through the wreckage of a half-ruined world to get back what was mine and wound up at the end of it. 

In Wonderland. 

But there’s nothing magical about it. 
Rating Breakdown:
Characters:Image result for five star rating
Writing:Image result for five star rating
Romance Factor:Image result for four star rating
Steam Factor:Image result for three  star rating

I’m out of my seat clapping like that Drake meme like I just watched my favorite player make a killer play. 
I’m a proud mother.

Aly, (which is a clever play on Alice, btw) lives in a dystopian-esque world where the poor are poor, and the rich keep getting richer. 

All she has is her grandmother—who lives in a “nursing home,” of sorts and her younger sister, Nadia whom she’d give her life for. In Wonder, she gets to prove that when her sister goes missing, in the dangerous part of town—and no way to get back without endangering her own life and her sister’s.

What sets off from that point is the thing that brings the ‘Alice and Wonderland,’ inspiration to helm.

Maddox is a soldier, kind of. His job is to do the bidding of his, “Queen,” Ches, whose rule is questionable but deserves all of his loyalty. He never signed up to save a girl from the other side of town—but he couldn’t rightfully leave her to die. This single decision sets off a rabbit in the hole series of events, that changes all of their lives.

Alice in Wonderland has always been this wacky tale to me. I’d never fully grasped the story or its characters, but it’s always fascinated me. I’ve read a number of re-tellings, all of which I loved.

But, of course, I never imagined the characters as anything other than a blonde girl in a cutesy blue dress, and a rabbit with a pocket watch, running around talking about being late.

I also envision the Queen and her red and black, Queen of heart, minions.

But to imagine this tale as this dystopian-esque, contemporary-ish, fantasy with black men and women at the forefront never crossed my mind. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means though. 

Non-black people always like to make it seem like Blacks are doing too much when we advocate for “Black” versions of things, but it’s not so much about the whitewashing, at least it isn’t for me, but more so about being seen. Allowing our children, our teens and the adults even to see black people in positions of grandeur, power, status, happiness. We want black vampires, superheroes. We want the Black James Bond’s and even the Alice in Wonderlands. We deserve stories where the black characters are not always impoverished and stricken with grief.

I can’t say that was the intention here but it brings to the forefront the importance and presence of such stories.

Jones took an old but classic and made it current and her own while maintaining the elements of this intriguing and delirious tale.

Weaved throughout the story ever so cleverly written, the twins, the play on names, the introduction of the two black Queens, the world in which the sisters stumbled—it was all so well done. I won’t get into detail for fear of spoilers—but you definitely get the Alice in Wonderland inflections without it feel repetitive or like a direct carbon copy.

This is a story of delusions of power and wealth. It’s a story of not staying down and fighting for what you believe in. It’s a story in which love and wisdom prevail. It’s a story of the depth of black intelligence and sustainability. 

It starts off slow—but takes off in a sprint fairly quickly. The characters are solid, and you’ll care about them. You’ll be amazed by this world, and you’ll be wondered by wonder, pulled in by a story that is so outside of this author’s norm.

I’m proud of this story. I’m in love with it, and I’m proud of this author.

I hope that this is the beginning of many out of the box reads from Jones, because for a first time shot, she hit it right out of the park.

Highly recommended.

Some of my favorite quotes: (They’re strictly romance centered, because I am a sap—but this book is not heavy on the romance, so don’t go looking for a contemp’ romance, this book is more than that.)

“Trust me, Alyson –what I’m about to do to you doesn’t have shit to do with pity.”

“Doesn’t matter where I am –if I say I’ve got your back, I’ve got it. Okay?”

I reached for her hand, pulling her close enough to tuck under my arm. “Do you think I don’t consider your feelings an emergency?” “Mad…” “I’m serious,” I insisted. “If we’re apart, and you need –or want –to talk, I consider it a priority because I consider you a priority.”'

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New Year, New We by Katrina Jackson ARC Review: Can I Have a Glass or Water or Somethin'?


New Year, New We (The Spies Who Loved Her) Interlude by Katrina Jackson
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Kierra has been in the honeymoon period with Monica and Lane for a few months. But as the year comes to a close she is confronted with questions she can't answer alone, because she's not an island anymore. Is this temporary? Do they love her as much as she loves them? Is there room for one more? In this New Year's interlude, check in on this polyamorous triad as they make their way carefully from lust to love. With still a lot of lust. 

New Year, New We is an interlude in The Spies Who Loved Her series. These erotic romantic suspense stories are about sexy secret agents and the civilians who bring them to their knees.
New Year's Eve is a night of figurative and orgasmic fireworks for Monica, Lane, and Kierra—as per their usual.
Kierra, Monica, and Lane have found a nice groove in their new spot. At least two of them have. Kierra has all she’s ever wanted. A good job, a high-paying promotion on the horizon and all the orgasms from two of her favorite people she could ever want.

But she’s beginning to wonder if this all, too good to be true? Do Monica and Lane really love her, or will these now constant sexcapades tire them of her? 

Kierra, we, sure enough, hope not. 

My faves are back and are up to full-on shenanigans. 

A mission that calls for them to be just as they are allows for them to explore sides of themselves and emotions they didn’t realize they had.

While this book is almost full on erotica (okay, Kat, heard you!) it does allow for the reader to see a more in-depth emotional side to the characters. Lane has always come off as the more caring of the three while Monica is the hard shell.

In New Year, New We, we see Monica as a woman with feelings, even if they are deeply attached to Kierra’s. We also get to see Kierra as less confident than she normally is which humanizes and softens her image in a good way. Don’t trip, she’s still the same sassy sexy kitten she’s been in books one and two.

I liked the way this story explored the depths of their relationship and what it really is outside of the sex though of course, it’s hot enough to singe your fingers. 

The spy stuff is exciting as usual, it’s actually allowed me to enjoy this type of story more. Though it acts as a catalyst for the true stars of the story, it’s just as exciting as the characters whom I hope I’ve convinced you to love by now.

Not to mention we’re introduced to two new characters and I can say with each new book I get more excited for where this series is going.

Kat brought her usual game—sarcastic but effective humor and sass. Sex that will make you blush, and a story that is both not lacking in emotion or excitement. It’s always a win-with with Jackson and as long as she keeps writing, I’ll keep supporting.

As always highly recommended. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Break Up Plan By Tia Kelly: Breakup Plan, Bih Where?


The Break Up Plan by Tia Kelly
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Image result for three star rating
A man without a plan is a shell without purpose.
Which is why when I sat down nine years ago and put pen to paper, mapping out a ten-year plan, I meant business. Everything that could set me up for a lifetime of joy had to go down on the list, and every day, I worked my ass off to fulfill it.
Open my own sports agency. Check.
Earn first million by my thirtieth birthday. I did that a week before I turned twenty-six.
Negotiate the most lucrative contract in Major League history. Did that, too. Then went and broke my own record. (Thanks, big bro!)
I could go on, but this isn’t about bragging. It’s me admitting that in the midst of drafting something that helps shape and mold much of my success, I still made a costly mistake.
One day I realized all those entries with corresponding checkmarks are pointless if I don’t factor into the equation the most important goal of all. Avery.
Perhaps way back then I wasn’t ready to see how much my best friend of fifteen years deserved that number one spot in my life. Maybe I was blind, since the whole “settle down and get married” scenario wasn’t my thing. But now that I’m aware of the role I need her to fill in my life, there’s no such thing as letting go until I can convince her to be mine.
Her being about to marry someone else does make winning her heart a little bit dicey. But if there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I always play to win. And losing Avery is nonnegotiable.

Rating Breakdown:

Characters: Image result for three star rating
Romance: Image result for 2.5 star rating
Story: Image result for 2.5 star rating
Writing: Image result for three and a half star rating
The “break up plan,” part of this book is as elusive to me as it was before I started reading the book as it is now that I’ve finished it. The synopsis and that little enticing paragraph on the front gave me an impression of something I never got.

What I expected to be a tale of a man dead set on snatching the woman that was meant to be his from the arms of a man that didn’t deserve her was actually a disconnected story that lacked the depth and emotion I expected it to have. 

When I think friends to lovers or friends to enemies stories, I expect intense emotions. Shifts in relationships should be dramatic, at least in my lowly opinion.

There was some “fight” in the story but something was missing from it that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Something was missing in the story that I can’t specifically name—though I could pinpoint some areas where things remained unsolved or unexplained which is problematic for a story where the characters have known each other for so long. 

I was wholly pulled in from page one. I could tell right away that Kelly’s writing style is/was the kind that I like. It was straightforward and did not dally. But once I settled into about half of the book things started to get a little muddled. 

Things stopped making sense for me. I couldn’t quite get a handle on my feelings for Avery and Drew’s relationship professional or otherwise. It started with the loosely declared breakup plan—which was more of a passerby, “You’ve got something there idea,” as opposed to an actual plan which would have been something to see. 

I would have been completely enthused by a Dwayne Wayne Whitley style “baby please,” wedding crash moment, but what I got was a relationship that benefited from a breakup that I saw coming from a mile away.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not a half bad book, it just lacked a certain something. Like when you’re making something and you go in for the taste test (All good cooks taste test their food) and you feel like something is missing but you can’t figure out if it’s pepper or salt. That’s what this was like. All the makings of a good book just lacking something to take it over the edge. It felt incomplete and that’s unfortunate.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Cuffing Season by Danielle Allen


Cuffing Season by Danielle Allen
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I wasn’t looking for a man. 
I was looking for a mentor. 

When renowned photographer Luca Romano returned home to teach a Photo Storytelling workshop, Hamilton University was buzzing. But a campus wide email warned us not to approach Luca if we weren’t selected to participate—and I wasn’t selected. 

I wasn’t looking to break the rules. 
I was looking to break into the industry. 

I knew getting photographed by Luca Romano would catapult my career. I hoped he’d call, but I had no expectations. I wanted to converse with him, pick his brain, expand my portfolio. That’s all. 

Listen… I wasn’t looking to be his muse. 
But I wasn’t going to tell him no. 

** Cuffing Season is a standalone spin-off of Sweatpants Season **

Coming off the high of Sweatpants Season, my expectations for Cuffing Season were high, unfortunately, they were not met.

Serena is a talented, fashion-designer with an eye for beauty. She works hard and she doesn’t waste a lot of her time dating. A chance encounter allows her to meet and sit with Luca Romano, the hot photographer with even hotter talent. Rumors swirl and threaten everything Serena’s worked for, and what we're left with, as a result, is a novel oppressed by a message bigger than the story, and a couple whose connection wasn't strong enough to carry them for a full novel.

I’m all about women, girl power, and smashing double standards—but this novel beat me over the head with its message of policing women’s bodies, and women being allowed to exert sexuality without being seen as a slut, so hard I walked away no more knowledgeable, a little bit overwhelmed and with a figurative black eye. 

Don’t get me wrong it’s well-written. Talent is not in question but this book focuses more on the outcome of slut-shaming and would’ve been a better ally in the fight by allowing the characters to do more than gently combat it.

Serena tried, but we're then tossed into her relationship with Luca and the focus switches there, while the rest gets lost, at least for a little while. The author makes good on swinging the story back around and ending it in a victorious sort of way. One that should leave you feeling accomplished but instead left me feeling like more could have been done. But I digress.

The romance here was satisfactory-ish but juvenile. There was a lot of playful back and forth but not much depth could be found.

I wanted to root for this story and its characters but I couldn't fall for Luca or get to know Serena in a way I would have liked. 

Not to mention if I have to hear, “Honestly? Always,” again, I might have a knee jerk reaction to punch someone in the throat.

I like Danielle’s work but this was a bit of a let down in comparison to Sweatpants Season--not to compare the two—but it’s what led me to try this book.

I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you’re really interested in hearing Serena and Luca’s story, or if you’re ready to settle in for what felt like a book long rant on women’s sexual inequality.