Best Friends Don’t Kiss by Max Monroe

Best Friends Don’t Kiss, an all new friend zoned bestfriend rom com from New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe available now!

My Take:

(ARC Review) This is a fun friends-to-lovers holiday themed book with typical Max Monroe humor and tons of Billionaire cameos from previous books.

It is pretty slow burn and the pacing was a little odd to me. The first half of the book was her dating other men, we were very far into the book before either realized they had feelings for the other. If there were more longing or unrequited love, maybe a spark from a brush of the hand, the slow burn wouldn’t have been a problem but it felt off as is because the feelings came very quickly and late into the story.

The second half had all the action, steam and holiday events and I loved it once the pace picked up! Overall I did like it since it’s funny throughout and the second half was lovely.


Goal: Find a boyfriend, get married, buy a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and pop out 2.5 kids.

Deadline: Sixty days.

That’s possible, right?

HAHAHA. *Faints*

I’m kidding. Well, kind of. I mean, I’m not going to attempt a shotgun wedding or try to get knocked up by some guy I met on the internet, but there is no doubt that, this year, home for the holidaystakes on a whole new, terrifying meaning. 

I have to travel from New York City—my home and safe haven for the last fifteen years—to my tiny hometown in Vermont for Christmas, my baby sister’s wedding, and my high school reunion.

Talk about a trifecta of single-doom

Throw in Callie Camden—aka my high school class’s version of Regina George—and it’s a recipe for certified disaster.

Especially since my mouth ran away from me when she asked me if I’d be bringing someone to our reunion, and I told her to put me down for two. 

Gah. Now I can’t go alone.

But the online dating world is a cesspool of bad manners, speedy hookups, and outright weirdos.

Handsome, single, successful—that’s what I’m looking for.

And it just so happens that my best friend Luke London fits all of the criteria.

The only problem is best friends don’t kiss

But maybe it doesn’t count if it’s pretend?

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Excerpt

Ava

I only get two steps toward my door when my phone starts ringing from inside my purse. I dig it back out again to find an unknown number with a Vermont area code flashing on the screen.

   I know I should let it roll to voice mail, but Aunt Poppy called me from jail one time, and I never heard the end of how I wasted her one phone call by not answering.

   Reluctantly, I hit the green button and put it to my ear.

   “Ava! It’s Callie!”

   Damn Aunt Poppy and her fascination with streaking!

   “Oh, uh…hi, Callie…”

   “Sorry to bother you, but I had one more question to ask, and since I now have your number, I figured I’d just call you really quick!”

   Greattt. “Sure thing,” I say with saccharine sweetness.

   “Since I have to finalize the head count for the venue by tomorrow, I need to know if I should just put you down as a single,” she begins. “Pretty sure your mom told me you weren’t married or engaged or dating anyone, but I just want to double-check that you’re still single. Honestly, I think you’re one of only ten people from our high school that isn’t married yet!” she exclaims through an amused giggle.

   I put my phone on speaker, drop it down on my entry table, and give it the double finger with as much gusto as I can manage.

   Obviously unaware of my display, she continues. “So crazy that most of us have reached the age where we’re married, and some with kids now. Which, by the way, I can’t believe your baby sister Kate is getting married before you. Soon, you’re going to be the only single Lucie left!”

   My tongue is tied by an imaginary angry fist, but it doesn’t matter. One of the only positive qualities Callie possesses is the ability to carry on an entire conversation herself.

   “By the way, you’re the best for helping me plan the reunion!”

   “That’s me.” The best people-pleasing lunatic in NYC who really should look into finding a good therapist to help me work through all of this before I have to head home to Vermont to watch my baby sister get married in the same week I get to attend a fifteen-year high school reunion I somehow got roped into helping plan. With the Regina George of my high school class. In less than two short months from now.

   Okay. So, I don’t need to find a therapist; I need to find Jesus. I just hope he lives in Manhattan.

   “So…one or two?” Callie asks, pulling me from the deep recesses of my thoughts.

   “One or two?”

   She giggles again. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. “How many people should I put you down for, silly?”

   This is a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street; it has to be. A new Halloween movie or something. Michael Myers himself must be right outside my freaking door. That’s the only way the universe would be cruel enough to add Callie’s interest into the swirling, boiling pot my family already has roasting over the Ava’s Relationship Status fire.

   Just like that, it hits me. I cannot go to this reunion and attend my baby sister’s wedding alone in the same damn week. I just…can’t.

   I completely break under the fucking pressure of it all, and the words blurt from my lips before I can stop them. “Two.”

   “Two?”

   “Uh…yeah… I’ll be bringing my…boyfriend.”

   You’ll be…what? You don’t have a boyfriend, Looney Tunes!

   “Your boyfriend? Oh, how exciting! Your mom didn’t tell me you were seeing someone!”

   “It’s…uh…fairly new.”

   Yeah, it sure is. It hasn’t even fucking started yet…

   Thinking better of my answer, I add to it quickly before Callie can undercut it. “But serious. Really serious, actually. We’ve just been keeping it private so we can enjoy the perfectness by ourselves for a while.”

   Dear God, Ava.

   “That’s so awesome! What’s his name?”

   Yeah, Ava! Tell your old archnemesis all about your imaginary boyfriend!

   Panic sets in when I realize there is absolutely no way I can talk myself out of this conversation. So, I do what anyone in my situation would do—avoid it.

   Three bangs of my fist to my own freaking door, I end the call in a rush, “Oh shoot, Callie! I have to go. My boyfriend just got here, and we’re already late for a big, fancy Halloween party in SoHo. Talk soon! Bye!” Click.

   It’s official. I’m pathetic.

   I might as well be Debra Messing’s character in The Wedding Date.

   Sure, my sister didn’t have an affair with my ex while I was still dating him, but she is my baby sister whose impending nuptials will make me the oldest and last single Lucie sister. And now, because I let Callie fucking Camden get the best of me with her backhanded bullshit, I told the snooty biotch that I have a boyfriend and I’d help plan the reunion.

   Oy vey.

   Call me crazy, but I highly doubt I can find a hot, Dermot-Mulroney-looking escort in under sixty days.

   You know, you could just be an adult about this and tell Callie how you really feel—that you don’t have a boyfriend and you don’t want to help plan that stupid reunion with someone who was a total bitch to you in high school…

   That would certainly be the easy way out, wouldn’t it?

   Too bad my damn pride is making that feel like an impossible option.

   On a heavy sigh, I drop my phone back in my purse, sling my bag over my shoulder, snag the stupid invitation off the counter, head straight out of my apartment, and stride right across the hall, barging through my best friend’s unlocked front door.

   I swear, one of the best things Luke and I ever did was rent apartments in the same building—and on the same floor—from his rich uncle Gary. It makes freak-out moments like this a heck of a lot easier to handle.

   My go-go boots pound across the hardwood floors as I make a beeline past Luke—who is standing in his living room—dump my purse, and head straight for the kitchen.

   “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where’s the fire?” he says on a laugh. “Please tell me you haven’t gone old-school and brought a hot plate into your apartment.”

   “Funny ha-ha, Luke,” I retort but keep it moving to the fridge. “The fire is my life. Everything is shit, I need a drink, and I’m pretty sure we’re already late to the party!”

About Max Monroe

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

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

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Love in Deed by L.B. Dunbar- Blog Tour!

My Take: I really enjoyed the storytelling in this book. L.B. Dunbar really takes you to a magical place, and I adore that they deal with a slightly older cast of characters. Everyone could use a good mature romance in their life- I’m in my 30s but I’ve really gotten to the point where I struggle to read books about young people since its hard to relate anymore. I liked the subplots with Jedd’s siblings at lot.

My problem lies more in the characterization of Beverly. I’m not saying she hasn’t had her struggles and she doesn’t deserve to be bitter, but every other line out of her mouth was her snapping. Literally the word snap, snaps, snapped was used so repeatedly. She said such horrible things to her daughter and Jedd it was hard to understand why anyone would want to be near her, especially why Jedd decided to pursue her. She redeemed herself by the end but I just really couldn’t understand why Jedd stuck around like that. Jedd seems like an absolute stud though! 3.5 stars 


BLURB: Sometimes it takes an outsider to force us to see who we are. The real struggle is accepting what we learn. For Beverly Townsen, nothing could be closer to the truth. Virtually a shut-in, Beverly has pulled back from Green Valley’s community, preferring the isolation of her farmhouse and her daily routine of viewing home improvement television shows. When the opportunity arises for her own home improvement and a personal re-assessment, she’s not so excited about the reality of real life versus DIY programs.

Jedd Flemming understands physical pain and personal loss, but it’s never stopped him from bucking forward in life. A former military man and rodeo star, his life as a nomad comes to an end with false accusations and a family matter back in the Valley. It’s been a long journey to find his way home and once there, there’s nothing he wants more than to reclaim what he’s lost…and maybe the elusive female reclusive who holds a sliver of his past.

With an unprecedented proposition, Beverly finds a stranger living in her barn, raising horses on borrowed pastures, and plowing his way into her vacant heart. Old hurts linger, but sometimes love in deed is louder than words.

‘Love in Deed’ is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #6 in the Green Valley Library series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

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Excerpt

“Momma,” she whispers, and I turn at the soft question in her voice. Her eyes scan my face. Does she fear she’ll look like me one day? Those bright eyes will dim, and lines will form in the corners. Will they be rivers formed from tears, or will she eventually find laughter? Does she wonder if her lips will match mine, permanently curled downward? Can my girl still smile? Will her hair go gray too young as mine did? Will the stress of her life turn her into someone lonely and lost?

I blink back the tears fighting for release. I won’t cry. Nothing left to cry over. It’s all gone.

“Do you fancy him?” my daughter asks, and I choke on the question.

“What…? I…of course not. Don’t be silly. I’m sure he’d be more interested in the likes of you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hannah asks, brows rising in surprise.

“I’m sure I don’t need to explain the birds and the bees to you. Men like him only want young things and only want one thing from those young things. I don’t think he should stay here,” I sneer, recognizing the pulse at my neck and the thump of my heart. My daughter is a pretty girl, and this older man could be attracted to her for all the wrong reasons. Young girls go for older men to solve their daddy issues. 

 “He’s sleeping in the barn,” Hannah counters, her voice deepening in displeasure. Ticking off points on her fingers, she continues, “We don’t need to feed him. He’ll rebuild at his expense or hire what he can’t do himself. The back field will be plowed and prepped for spring planting.”

I snort in response, but my eyes return to Jedd’s movement. Into the barn. Out in the yard. My observation traces down his perspiring spine to the waist of his pants where his shirt has untucked. My fingers curl on the armrest of the rocker as my eyes outline the fine globes accentuated by those smooth pants. My mouth goes dry. 

What is it about this man? Why am I suddenly lusting after him?

I can’t. That’s the bottom line. I can’t anything him. Under fifteen percent and tight pants and a perfect backside is still a man with empty words.

My eyes fall blindly on the reality television program. The only man a girl can count on is the fictional kind. I force my attention away from the barn, but my eyes seem to have a will of their own. 

“We can’t have a stranger living in our barn,” I huff. Jedd stops, turning in his tracks with a pile of lumber on his shoulder as if he heard me, which is impossible on two counts: the panes of glass and his lack of hearing. Still, he stills, and his eyes narrow on the house as if he knows I’m watching him, I’m talking about him, and I don’t agree with this arrangement.

“Too late. He’s moving in.” Hannah definitively nods, dismissing my opinion as Jedd swings back around. She leans down to kiss my cheek and then exits my room, but I remain transfixed.

Suddenly, reality is more fascinating than television.

My eyes continue the cat and mouse game of watching Jedd disappear and then reappear. I don’t know how much time transpires, but eventually, the bed of his truck is empty. Still, I hold my breath as if the barn is a giant octopus, swallowing him whole. I fear he might disappear forever like Howard did, which is the silliest thought I’ve had in a decade. I don’t need Jedd. We don’t need Jedd. There will be no attachment to him. 

But then, Jedd appears at the open barn door and gives a single wave toward the house, and I smile in spite of myself.

About L.B. Dunbar

L.B. Dunbar has an overactive imagination. To her benefit, such creativity has led to over thirty romance novels, including those offering a second chance at love over 40. Her signature works include the #sexysilverfoxes collection of mature males and feisty vixens ready for romance in their prime years. She’s also written stories of small-town romance (Heart Collection), rockstar mayhem (The Legendary Rock Stars Series), and a twist on intrigue and redemption (Redemption Island Duet). She’s had several alter egos including elda lore, a writer of romantic magical realism through mythological retellings (Modern Descendants). In another life, she wanted to be an anthropologist and journalist. Instead, she was a middle school language arts teacher. The greatest story in her life is with the one and only, and their four grown children. Learn more about L.B. Dunbar by joining her reader group on Facebook (Loving L.B.) or subscribing to her newsletter (Love Notes).

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Holidate by Monica Murphy- Blog Tour

My Take: (ARC REVIEW) This is a super lighthearted sweet story that would fit right in on the Hallmark channel. It reads almost more like YA than contemporary romance, even though the characters are in their 20s due to the lack of heat or action and Candice’s simplistic naivety. She’s never made out in a car, lives with her parents, and doesn’t like swearing. She bounce and claps her hands when excited. Though it doesn’t have a lot of depth or passion, it is a fun easy breezy read that’s perfect for Christmas. 3.5/5 stars

Blurb:

Candice Gaines loves Christmas. Not only does she bask in the twinkling lights, sing Christmas carols and go crazy with the decorations, she’s also in the giving spirit, donating much of her time and wealth to various charities in the local area.

Charlie Sullivan despises Christmas. Though it keeps his family afloat, considering they own Sullivan Family Christmas Tree Farm, the main provider for Christmas trees on the Monterey peninsula. He’d much rather work among the trees versus have to deal with people.

But Charlie’s parents are taking on more philanthropic projects—and as their oldest child, they want him to be their official public representative. He just has to play nice and convince everyone he’s not a total holiday hater.

When Charlie’s mom asks Candice to accompany him to a variety of holiday parties and events, she reluctantly agrees. She thinks Charlie is a big ol’ Grinch, but is determined to change his mindset and help him spread Christmas cheer. Charlie finds Candice too chatty, too sweet, too much. Do people like her really exist?

Why yes, yes they do. The more time they spend together—along with a few kisses under the mistletoe—the more they start to like each other. Hopefully Charlie can convince Candice he doesn’t have a heart that’s two sizes too small before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.


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Excerpt:

I go chasing after Charlie, thankful he hasn’t hopped back on that ATV and torn out of here. He’s headed straight for the giant red building, and I follow behind, having to pick up my step since one of his long strides equals about three of mine. He’s just so stinkin’ tall.

And handsome.

And gruff.

And he smells good. Have I mentioned that? He smells like a pine tree, of course, and his scent is mouth-wateringly delicious.

Ugh. I hate myself sometimes.

He pushes open the door of the building almost violently, sending it swinging wide, and I sneak in behind him, causing him to turn and practically snarl at me when he realizes I’m standing in front of him.

But I forget all about his snarl when I see how enchanting this room is. It’s not an office, but an actual store, filled to the brim with holiday decorations and knickknacks for sale. Candles are burning—I can smell cinnamon and spice wafting in the air. The scent of the real pine trees laden with ornaments standing in the room also lingers, and I breathe deep, closing my eyes for a moment so I can take it all in.

When I open my eyes, it’s to find Charlie standing there, his hands on his hips, his brow lowered. “Are you okay? That head injury still flaring up and giving you trouble?”

I roll my eyes. “No, you idiot. I’m enjoying the festive atmosphere.”

Oh, that was mean. I shouldn’t have said that.

But I don’t think he even noticed.

I slowly turn in a circle, pure delight flowing through my veins. I don’t know what to look at first, it’s all so beautiful. And there are layers upon layers of decorations. On the walls, cluttering shelves and tabletops, overflowing giant baskets. And of course there are the trees. They almost sag with their bounty of sparkling ornaments and twinkling lights. It would probably take me hours to explore it all, and I’m dying to start my exploration right at this very moment. “This store is so adorable!”

“My sister Victoria runs it.” He glances over at the counter where the register sits, but no one’s there. “I don’t know where she’s at, though. Maybe you could talk to her about—whatever it is you want to talk about.”

No way is he pushing this agenda onto his sister. Isabel wants Charlie to do this, and no one else.

“We’ve wasted the past five minutes with you huffing and puffing and refusing to speak to me.” I reach into my large bag and pull the folder out I wanted to show him. “Give me ten minutes. That’s all I need to talk about what we’re going to do over the next few weeks.”

He grimaces. Sighs. Tugs the cap off his head, all that gorgeous hair spilling across his forehead, and my fingers literally itch at the chance to push it out of his eyes.

But I restrain myself.

Barely.


Meet Monica:

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and HarperCollins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

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