Tag: Rowena Says

Standalone Series Books: Yes, That’s a Thing

Posted November 6, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 5 Comments

Holly: Lately, Rowena and I have been increasingly frustrated with the number of authors who label their books as standalones when they are, in fact, part of a series.

The Chase by Elle Kennedy is the first book in the Briar U series, which is a spinoff of the Off-Campus series. Yet the description says, “A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy!”

The blurb for Part-Time Lover by Lauren Blakely says, “From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blakely comes a sexy new standalone romance…”, yet it features characters we met in Wanderlust (Part-Time Lovers series).

Rowena: It seems to me that this is a new development, at least in romance because I don’t ever remember going through this before. Books in a series could be read as standalone but they were linked by something. Some of those series were linked together by characters, some were linked by the world that they were set in, and sometimes they had a story arc that went through multiple books, but that last one wasn’t necessary or even the case for every series. I can’t agree with what Holly says above enough. It is possible for a book to read as a standalone but still be part of a series.

She also mentions that there are some readers that prefer to read standalones and that’s fine, you should be able to love and want what you want. We prefer to know that characters we meet and love in one book, also show up in their own books…because then it’s not a standalone, it’s part of a series and should be labeled as such.

I just finished reading Sleepover by Serena Bell and though the book is listed as a standalone, I just know that the hero’s brother Brooks is going to get his own book because the ending led the reader to believe as much. The ending also announces the engagement of a couple from another book that was released back in June of this year. So this book is definitely part of a series and is linked together by the characters but if you were a new reader of this author (like me), you wouldn’t know that. “Sleepover is a standalone novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a satisfying happily ever after. This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.” Yet, it follows Do Over and Head Over Heels.

She’s not the only author that is guilty of this. She’s just the latest one that I’ve read and my frustration continues to grow and grow and grow. Holly hears about this frustration every time so we figured it was time to write this post.

Here are some examples of series with books that can be read as standalones but are linked together under the series umbrella.

The 21 Wall Street Series by Lauren Layne

This series follows three friends who work together on Wall Street. You don’t have to read the first book to get the second book, or the third book. The only thing that links these books together are the heroes in each book are friends. That’s it.

FBI/US Attorney Series by Julie James

Here’s another series that doesn’t need to be read in order. Each book can be read as a standalone and the series follows a different couple in the same world.

Colorado Mountain Series by Kristen Ashley

The same deal applies here with this series. They don’t really need to be read in order but there are recurring characters in each of these books. Some characters show up in all of the books, some show up in only a few but the common link in these books are the characters. The point is, the books can be read as standalones, but they’re connected in some way.

I’m not sure if this is a publisher thing or an author thing but whoever is in charge of making these decisions, please change this back. If books are linked in any way, readers should know that. I’m not sure when books being part of a series became a bad thing but I promise, I don’t see it as such.

The more you know and all of that…

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Books Rowena Would Hate If She Read Them Now

Posted October 10, 2018 by Rowena in Discussions | 7 Comments

This month, Holly, Casee and I are sharing the books we liked back in the day that we would probably hate if we read them now. You know, the books that used to make our hearts race and then sigh happily but because we’re older, we’re different and our tastes have changed, we know that if we were to try reading these books now, our reading experience would not be the same.

When I first started reading romances, I was young and I loved historical romances. They were my main love and I loved re-reading Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught and Linda Howard over and over again. These days, my most read genre is contemporary. I am drawn to the more modern romances because I connect more with them. I still love historicals but I don’t read nearly as many of them as I used.

I’m also a different reader now. I used to have such patience with characters and storylines. I used to never DNF books. I read every book that I picked up from beginning to end but becoming a book blogger has changed that for me. I don’t have the time or the patience to continue a book that I just do not care for. Life is too short to waste time on books that I’m not invested in.

These changes in myself led me to this list. Check it out.

Virgin River

Virgin River by Robyn Carr
Released on March 20, 2007
Publisher: Mira Books
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 386
My Review: Virgin River

“Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against the backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.” When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans…and a former marine cements them into place.

Melinda Monroe may have come to Virgin River looking for an escape, but instead, she finds her home.

I used to love small town romances but aside from a series or two that I’m mostly reading for the authors themselves and not the small towns, I don’t read them very often. I gave up the Virgin River series after a handful of books in the beginning and what I remember not caring about is all of the cheesy nosiness of everyone in town. If I read this book now, I’d want to rip my hair out. So it just figures that Netflix announces that they’re bringing the Virgin River stories to life in a short series, right? Ehh.

Only His by Susan Mallery
Released on September 11, 2011
Publisher: HQN
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 344
My Review: Only His

Wedding bells are ringing in Fool’s Gold, but not for Nevada Hendrix. Her triplet sisters are engaged, and even her mother has a more active love life than she does. Determined to make a fresh start, she applies for her dream job, only to discover that her new boss is her first love. Maybe she could overlook the fact that they’ve seen each other naked, but she’ll never forget the way he broke her heart.

Tucker Janack agrees to Nevada’s “business only” ground rules. After all, love is a trap that the construction millionaire has avoided his whole life. But when great business partners turn out to be so much more, every rule gets broken. Will either of them be willing to try again…or will their past get in the way?

This book is one of the triplets books from the Fool’s Gold series by Susan Mallery and I don’t remember much about the romance itself but I don’t think I’ll ever forget how cheesy everything else was in the book. All of the happy couples doting on each other, the pregnancies and just over the top happiness. You’d think it would be a good thing but if I were to read this book again, I’d hate it. I’d probably throw up. All of that cheesy happiness would grate on my nerves so I’ll probably never read this again.

The Best of Someone Else’s Life by Kerry Reichs
Released on October 13, 2009
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 431
My Review: The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life

Despite being cursed with a boy’s name, Kevin “Vi” Connelly is seriously female and a committed romantic. The affliction hit at the tender age of six when she was handed a basket of flower petals and ensnared by the “marry-tale.” The thrill, the attention, the big white dress—it’s the Best Day of Your Life, and it’s seriously addictive. But at twenty-seven, with a closetful of pricey bridesmaid dresses she’ll never wear again, a trunkful of embarrassing memories, and an empty bank account from paying for it all, the illusion of matrimony as the Answer to Everything begins to fray. As her friends’ choices don’t provide answers, and her family confuses her more, Vi faces off against her eminently untrustworthy boyfriend and the veracity of the BDOYL.

Eleven weddings in eighteen months would send any sane woman either over the edge or scurrying for the altar. But as reality separates from illusion, Vi learns that letting go of someone else’s story to write your own may be harder than buying the myth, but just might help her make the right choices for herself.

I remember enjoying this book back when I read it but reading through my review, I don’t think I’d stomach reading it again now. I do remember being confused because there were so many characters introduced and it was a bit of a bother to keep them all straight in my head. I don’t think that would slide so smoothly with me now and I just have no interest in this kind of book anymore.

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
Released on January 1, 1991
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 538
My Review: Whitney, My Love

Under the dark, languorous eyes of Clayton Westmoreland, the Duke of Claymore, Whitney Stone grew from a saucy hoyden into a ravishingly sensual woman. Fresh from her triumphs in Paris society, she returned to England to win the heart of Paul, her childhood love … only to be bargained away by her bankrupt father to the handsome, arrogant duke.

Outraged, she defies her new lord. But even as his smoldering passion seduces her into a gathering storm of desire, Whitney cannot, will not, relinquish her dream of perfect love.

As much as I love Judith McNaught’s older stuff, I don’t think that this particular book would go over well for me if I were to read it now. Between that scene and Whitney’s personality, I just don’t think it would work for me. This was almost one of my least favorite McNaught books and if I were to read this one again, I know that it would shoot straight to the top of my I HATE THESE BOOKS list so I don’t think I’d let myself go there again. Nope. Just, nope.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Released on July 18, 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 513
My Review: Twilight

Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger. Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

Oh man, I used to love the hell out of this book. When I first read it, I was obsessed. Then it became a movie and I loved that too but if I were to read the books now (for the first time), I think that I’d hate it. I would probably think that Edward was on the same page as Christian and is a psychopathic stalker who needed to relax and Bella would drive me absolutely bat shit crazy if I were to read about her now. I don’t have a lot of patience for uninteresting characters and Bella just isn’t interesting to me anymore so I would probably either hate this book or DNF it, one of those.

Have you read any of the books listed on this list? Do you think they’d stand the test of time if you were to read them now? Are there any books that you loved before but would probably hate if you read them now? Share in the comments!

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The Romance Readers Book Tag

Posted September 20, 2018 by Rowena in Miscellaneous | 10 Comments

I’ve been seeing this book tag around blogs and BookTube. It looked like fun so I wanted to give it a try. The tag originated from Not Just Romance Novels and Naya Reads and Smiles.

Here are the questions…

  1. What age did you start to read romance novels? I started reading romance novels when I was 18 years old and pregnant with my daughter Brenna. I named my kid after one of my favorite heroines from my books at the time, Lady Brenna from The Wedding by Julie Garwood.

  2. If you could pick one hero to meet from your favorite romance novels who would it be and why? Man, this is a hard one because there are so many heroes that I love. I think I’d want to meet Jordan Townsende, the Duke of Hawthorne from Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught because he was the very first romance hero that I fell in love with so I’ve loved him the longest.

  3. Who are your favorite romance authors and why? My favorite romance authors now include Lauren Layne, Julie James, Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy and my favorite old school romance authors include Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, Linda Howard and Nora Roberts. The difference between the two are the favorites now are the authors that I will always read now but the old school ones are the ones that I rarely read their new stuff but I will always read their older releases over and over again.

  4. What is a favorite romance novel to re-read? Probably The Wedding by Julie Garwood, Something Wonderful and Double Standards by Judith McNaught, Seaswept by Nora Roberts and Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard.

  5. What book would you recommend to a non-romance reader? Ooh, got you guys covered on this since we did a Romance Starter Kits post a while ago but I would still recommend these books now.

  6. Which is your favorite, contemporary, suspense, or historical and why? I read contemporary romance the most. I enjoy all kinds of romance but contemporary is home for me and that is what you’ll find me reading most of the time.

Now what about you guys? Please share your answers in the comments!

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2018 Releases Rowena Should Have Read by Now

Posted August 28, 2018 by Rowena in Discussions | 4 Comments

Lauren over at Bookmark Lit wrote up a post a few weeks ago, listing all of the books that came out already that she’s surprised she hasn’t read yet and it got me thinking that there are quite a few books that I was looking forward to and just haven’t gotten around to.

There are books by authors that I LOVE, books that I’ve been pretty anxious to read since before they were even released, books that I pre-ordered months and months before they came out and for one reason or another, these books have gone unread. Gah, I need to get my act in order.

Anyway, here’s my list.

Getting Schooled by Emma Chase
Released on June 26, 2018
Publisher: Self Published, Emma Chase
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 300

Garrett Daniels has this whole life thing figured out.

The cocky, charismatic former high school star quarterback is an idolized football coach and “cool” teacher in the hometown where he’s not just a golden boy — he’s platinum. He has good friends, a great house on the lake, and the best damn sidekick a man could ask for: Snoopy, the albino beagle.

Then…Callie Carpenter comes home.

And knocks him right on his tight end zone.

Back to school…

Callie has a pretty sweet life herself…on the other side of the country. But circumstances — that she’d prefer to never speak of again — have brought her back home, helping out her parents and substitute teaching at her old high school.

Now she’s facing bickering, raging hormones, constant gossip, awkward weirdness, and drama galore…and that’s just the teachers.

Just like old times…

When Garrett offers to show his former high school sweetheart the secrets of his winning teacher ways, Callie jumps at the chance – and then has to stop herself from jumping him.

Good friends are all they can ever be.

Or…these teachers just might end up getting schooled — hard —by love.

I have adored most of the books that I read by Emma Chase and I was very much looking forward to this one because of the second chance trope that it’s working but I got it the day that it came out and haven’t touched it yet. I’m hopeful that I’ll get it read in August but I’m still surprised that I haven’t jumped all over this one yet.

Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan
Released on March 22, 2018
Publisher: Self Published, Kennedy Ryan
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 300

Think you know what it’s like being a baller’s girl?

You don’t.

My fairy tale is upside down.

A happily never after.

I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud.

I was a fool, and his love – fool’s gold.

Now there’s a new player in the game, August West.

One of the NBA’s brightest stars.

Fine. Forbidden.

He wants me. I want him.

But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won’t let me go.

This probably surprises me the most since I’ve been wanting to read a basketball romance for a long time now but I only knew of one and it was a novella so it wasn’t even a full-length story. Then this book hit the blogosphere and the early reviews and even later reviews have all been wonderful. I was super excited, the book hit my kindle because of course I pre-ordered it and then I completely forgot all about it.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Released on
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432

Father of the Bride meets Sixteen Candles in the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Matson.

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I love reading books featured around weddings and I have really loved a lot of Morgan Matson books so I was super excited to read this book (I even bought it and YA books are more expensive than romance books so you know I was excited for this one) so why I haven’t I read this yet? I have no clue. I’m hoping to read this book before the year is up though. Fingers crossed.

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
Released on May 29, 2018
Publisher: Scholastic, Point
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

Here’s another book that I was pretty anxious to read since there were so many good reviews of the book from my trusted book friends so the minute it came out, I couldn’t one click to purchase this book fast enough, fast forward almost three months and it’s still sitting on my kindle, waiting to be read. Hopefully soon, my pet!

Hot Dad by Whitley Cox
Released on June 29, 2018
Publisher: Self Published, Whitley Cox
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 297

A single dad, firefighter, steamy rom-com.


Since the moment I laid eyes on her I’ve wanted her.

But I wasn’t ready.

The kids were my world and my wounds were still raw.

For six months, I watched her from afar. Dreamed of her, lusted after her, fantasized…

But all that’s about to change. I’m finally ready to take the plunge and start dating again. And now that I know she’s single, I’m going to do this right and win Harper. I want her mind, I want her body, I want her heart.

And when she gives me all access, no limits, I know she’s the one for me.


He’s the one we all call Hot Dad at playgroup. The one who makes my knees weak and my pulse race every time he walks through the door. We all watch him, and dream of him asking us out.

But my kid is my world, and I’m a frumpy mom with a hole in the bum of her yoga pants. What could he ever see in me? So when Sam calls out of the blue, I’m stunned.

Now if only the kids can stop cock-blocking us, and his psycho ex would go away.

He’s turned out to be the alpha of my dreams and I’m willing and eager to be his forever.

Holly and I have a thing for single Dad romances and when this came across our radar, we wanted it badly. We couldn’t get a hold of an eARC of the book so we put this on our wishlists, pre-ordered our copies and then it came in and has been sitting on my kindle ever since. I still really want to read it so I’m going to make a point in the coming weeks to knock this one off on my TBR pile. Wish me luck.

Are there any books that came out this year that you were so excited to read and you just haven’t gotten around to reading them? Comment below and share your books!

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Retro-Post: Personal Libraries- To Go All Digital, or Not…That is the Question.

Posted November 15, 2017 by Rowena in Discussions | 33 Comments

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: I love how we evolve as readers and book lovers. I know my reading tastes and habits have changed over the years, and I’m sure all of yours have, too. I used to hoard all print books. Whether I loved the book or hated it, I kept the print copy on my shelf. Now, I’ve culled down my print library to mainly favorites and full collections. I know Rowena has purged most of her print library in favor of expanding her digital one. I still have a lot of print books, but I’m buying/keeping fewer and fewer.

This post was originally posted on April 23, 2013


Rowena: When you’re a reader, you dream about having a library that rivals the library that the Beast presents to Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. You want to buy shelves to line the walls of your home and fill them with all of your favorite books. Then once you start building your library, you get a little thrill every time you pass by.

Soon, you fill up the shelf and then you have to buy another shelf. So you do and you fill that shelf up and pretty soon, you’ve got books coming out your ears because they’re everywhere. For a book lover, this is not a bad problem to have but what happens when you run out of space?

Ames and I were emailing back and forth when our personal libraries came up. I told Ames that I was thinking about getting rid of my print TBR pile and going all digital but haven’t actually done it yet because I’m scared.

Scared of what? I don’t really know but taking that first step to getting rid of my personal print library terrifies me.

Ames: I’m right there with you Wena. I recently purged my keeper and tbr shelves and what was left scared me…I’m running out of space! And considering one whole wall in my room is a bookshelf, that’s scary. LOL I decided right then and there that I would make the move to digital. But since then I’ve already come across a few problems. In the purge, I decided to put all my keeper books in storage until I had more space (meaning my own house haha). But lately I’ve been wanting to re-read some favorites and I can’t go digging through all those plastic tubs to look for specific books. So in some cases where the ebook was cheap, I just bought it…I want to make that switch to digital right? Right. But I can’t do that for every book.

And when it comes to new releases, my default thinking is still Chapters or Book Depository…it’s hard to really make that switch to digital. There are just so many factors involved in making that switch, that it does scare me to make that move to 100% digital.

Rowena: You bring up a good point. Purchasing all of your favorite books that you already have in print would get pretty expensive. But let’s be honest, how long have those books been sitting on those shelves? How many print books have you read in the last year? I can tell you that over 95% of the books that I read last year were all eBooks. And no matter how many times I’ve tried to participate in reading challenges to read more from my TBR pile, I fail each and every single year because I’m not reading print books anymore. That makes me sad.

Now, my TBR pile is nowhere near as huge as yours is (I’ve seen that wall of yours and am still so jealous!) but I still have so many books that I just know that I’m probably not going to read. I want to read them but I’m probably not going to so should I keep them? Send them off to better homes? My greed is getting the better of me, I know this but this is still a tough decision for me.

For me, I’m not buying print books at all anymore. I pre-order books right on my Kindle and when they come out, they get delivered straight to my device. Every other book that I get are ebooks for review through Netgalley or Edelweiss so my print book buying days are behind me. And have been behind me for the past year or two. It’s been more than a year since I’ve been to my favorite UBS too.

But I’m curious. How many print books have you read in the past year? How often have you read a book from your TBR bookshelf?

Ames: Because I’m a big nerd, I kept stats of how many books I read and in what format. I read 29 print books from my tbr pile last year. That’s like 85% e-books I read in 2012. And I can’t just keep adding to my tbr pile with print books when I’m mostly an e-book reader now. It just doesn’t make sense. But because I live in Canada, e-books aren’t the cheapest thing exactly either. So I still buy the odd print book from Walmart for example, where paperbacks are way cheaper. And this leads us into a whole other discussion about geographic restrictions. LOL But we’ll keep on topic. Sometimes it’s just cheaper for me to buy the print book. I do read from a variety of e-publishers though, so that’s one good result from looking past the big traditional publishers.

Another thing is keeping formats consistent throughout a series. I used to be bad for that and it’s a hard habit to break. But slowly and surely I’m getting closer and closer to 100% digital. If I’m working at getting digital copies of my keepers, the format issue won’t be a problem since they’ll all be e-books. One day…one day. Haha.

Rowena: So I guess the whole point to this post (there is one, we promise) is to find out how many people are still reading primarily print books. Are there any left? And when you think of the future, do you see yourself moving your personal libraries from print to digital?

Ames: I’m curious to know too, how buying digital has maybe affected your book buying habits. I mean, when it came to buying print books, I was always cheap. That’s still the same with e-books. LOL So I’ll shop around. I always look for good deals. Be it discounts or reward programs. And how many readers are now mostly digital?

Rowena: So, what’s the good word? Tell us about your personal libraries.  Are you going digital or still holding out for…something, like us?


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