5 star, adult

Review: Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

Series: The STEMinist novellas #2

Nothing like a little rivalry between scientists to take love to the next level.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Logically, Sadie knows that civil engineers are supposed to build bridges. However, as a woman of STEM she also understands that variables can change, and when you are stuck for hours in a tiny New York elevator with the man who broke your heart, you earn the right to burn that brawny, blond bridge to the ground. Erik can apologize all he wants, but to quote her rebel leader—she’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

Not even the most sophisticated of Sadie’s superstitious rituals could have predicted such a disastrous reunion. But while she refuses to acknowledge the siren call of Erik’s steely forearms or the way his voice softens when he offers her his sweater, Sadie can’t help but wonder if there might be more layers to her cold-hearted nemesis than meet the eye. Maybe, possibly, even burned bridges can still be crossed….

For the fact that this is a novella, Stuck With You packs on the chemistry and heat right from the start, once again showing that it isn’t about the length of a novel but the talent of the author to draw us into a story and the lives of its characters.

As always, I’m super invested in these women in STEM stories. Definitely would love to see more romance books featuring such smart and independent protagonists.

Sadie was a firecracker with her oddly specific superstitious rituals for good luck before interviews and her love for engineering in a workforce still dominated by men. I adored her voice, and the narrator on the audiobook did a superb job creating that excitement I vividly picture at Sadie’s passion for what she does. Which brings us to her love-hate relationship with Erik. She brings the passion so that also transfers to things (or PEOPLE) she passionately dislikes.

I liked the format of the story going back and forth between present day wherein she’s trapped in the elevator with the last person she wants to see, and the past explaining how she and Erik met. It keeps us guessing what went down between them when it seemed they really clicked initially. This made the pace go really well and never drag the story too long – if novellas can feel long.

Erik epitomized the kind of male love interests that people love. Stoic, strong, a bit brooding (or maybe because he didn’t speak all that much), and clearly misunderstood. Something clearly wasn’t adding up the more we learned of the past between Erik and Sadie.

And while it’s great to love characters individually, I will have to say that Erik and Sadie together just had sparks flying. Whew, how was that elevator not starting to move again when it could be fueled by their tension and electricity?? Their dynamic rivaled Ali Hazelwood’s debut duo from The Love Hypothesis. Perhaps it’s the grumpy-sunshine character combo but anyhow, this made the story. The angst is real, the miscommunication is probably in there somewhere and not too difficult to figure out near the end, and you just know how they make up for such communication breakdown is gonna be awesome.

And by awesome I mean chemically reactive!

If you haven’t hopped onto the Ali Hazelwood train, I would recommend you do. You can start anywhere with this novella series without ruining the other stories, but I definitely liked Sadie’s story the most so far.

Overall Recommendation:

Stuck With You is the classic forced proximity story that draws together two people with an extreme love-hate relationship. What do you get when you put 2 engineers together in an unmoving elevator late on a Friday evening? A combustive story detailing the mishaps of their initial meeting/attempts at romance and perhaps some steamy ways of making up for what happened. Sadie and Erik’s story may contain those common romance tropes but they’re what make the story so attractive. What makes the rest of it so good is the compelling storytelling all credited to Ali’s amazing writing. Definitely worth the pick up for such a short book.

4 star, adult

Review: Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood

Series: The STEMinist Novellas #1

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new steamy, STEMinist novella….

A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

To listen to Sadie and Hannah’s stories, look for the novellas Stuck with You and Below Zero, coming soon, available first on audio!

Ali Hazelwood does it again with her first novella following 3 STEM ladies who are the best of friends. I had the distinct pleasure of listening to the audiobook ‘cause I couldn’t wait for the print to come out (it’s totally the only reason I’m still on Audible).

Immediately we meet Mara at the very beginning and we know feelings are there between her and Liam, or at least on her side. I’m such a sucker for the unrequited feels angst and Mara was steeping in it!

But what made the pacing excellent especially for this short format story was this little taste of the present time at the beginning and then the rewind to the first moments Mara and Liam meet. For all you enemies to lovers fans, it’s definitely chaotic at the beginning.

They’re complete opposites in every way. He loves gaming and she’s a HUGE fan of The Bachelor franchise. She tries to save the environment and he’s working for the enemy company that corrupts it. What could go wrong living together? Doesn’t that just sound like an amazing setup for a love story?

Their relationship is less hate and does quickly turn into potentially something more. I do blame the quick turn of it due to the novel length but I do love some slow burn romance. I think it’s the only reason this isn’t a 5-star rating.

If you’re a fan of Ali’s writing already, this continues to show she’s a great writer with ingenious ways of incorporating women in STEM careers at the forefront. I absolutely adore that about her writing! But if you’re new to Ali’s work, this is a great introduction to a fiery romance and amazing protagonists who aren’t afraid to stand their ground in fields dominated by men. The audiobook was narrated so well and is worth listening to if you can’t wait for the print format to publish!

Overall Recommendation:

Under One Roof shows me just how excellent an author Ali Hazelwood is. Mara is a wonderful protagonist who is both relatable as a woman striving to make her voice heard and falling for the guy who has nothing in common with her, but also personally relatable to me because of her profession in STEM. The romance was fast paced but understandably moves quickly because it’s a novella. If you love forced close proximity, enemies to lovers with a dash of unrequited love angst, this is the story for you!

3.5 star, NA

Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: Blood and Ash #3

She’s been the victim and the survivor…

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.

The enemy and the warrior…

Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.

A lover and heartmate…

But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.

And now she will become Queen.

After the absolute bore-fest that was book 2, I’m actually happy to say book 3, The Crown of Gilded Bones, did better at holding my attention. Maybe being a glutton for punishment isn’t so bad? Sometimes?

The story starts off where the cliffhanger ending left us. We finally (finally!) get to know more details about who or what Poppy is. She’s got that *special* main character thing going for her since Day One when she was simply called the Maiden. Clearly that doesn’t mean anything like she was taught to think it represented, but it seems Atlantis’s enemies may know that she’s special in some way too.

The world building is also picking up. Atlantia has so much to offer and we’re finally HERE (after two super long books but whatever). And it doesn’t disappoint. We get to meet the different citizens that make up this kingdom, learn more about the lore of the gods and what happened while they were still awake. The action is there from the start and it doesn’t lag too much because the enemy kingdoms are finally feeling like they’re near the tipping edge towards war.

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