The Lovable Douchebag

This review will be a bit different. Rather than focusing on one specific book, I want to look at one specific trope. This trope typically is a hero-centric* trope found in new adult, sports romances. It runs along the same lines of an alpha-male hero. This trope defines the hero, how he acts, and his character. I call this trope: the lovable douchebag.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines douchebag as, “an obnoxious, offensive, or disgusting person.” And that’s what these heroes are.

These heroes are typically young college aged men who is a star player on a sports team. They’ve worked hard at what sport they play and are unapologetic for their talent. They are undeniably confident, bordering on arrogant. Every other word out of their mouth is a swear word, which they use in the most colorful of ways. They talk about sex almost as much as they swear. They love sex and love women, but their relationship status is more, “love ’em and leave ’em” than long term commitment.

On the outside, the lovable douchebag is all douchebag. That is, until the heroine gets to know the hero. Underneath that bravado and braggadocios nature they’re hiding past hurts and insecurities. And this is what makes the douchebag more human. More understandable. More lovable. The more these aches and pains are explored, the more approachable this hero becomes. His actions and douchebaggery are a bit more understandable and becomes a starting point for a change in character. It is at this point, when he is vulnerable with the heroine, I start going all swoony.

Even though this hero says he has no time for relationships, that he’s a one-night only type of guy, that he’s not built for commitment, he realizes he can and will be all those things for this girl. She isn’t a girl who is dumbstruck by his talent, status, or charm. While there might be some friction between these two at first, a friendship quickly forms. They realize that this person is someone with whom they can be completely vulnerable with, no judgments, just acceptance. And before he knows it he’s head-over-heels stupid in love with her. And he doesn’t know what to do. He’s a little bit like this:


I’ve actually really come to like this trope. Like the alpha-male, the lovable douchebag turns out to be a very caring and, dare I say, sweet guy, willing to go to the mats for his girl. Once the couple gets over their “you’re a douchebag” and “I don’t do relationships” mantras, the two love-birds are in each other’s pockets. They become best friends and lovers, a safe place for each other.

There are a few series that highlight the lovable douchebag trope the best. These are How To Date A Douchebag by Sara Ney, The Off Campus s_eries by Elle Kennedy, and _The Harris Brothers by Amy Daws. Each book in these series is a delight. I’ve reread these books multiple times and will probably keep coming back to them. They’re humorous and give me a big ol’ case of heart eyes.

Sara Ney’s How To Date A Douchebag series follows a group of guys on the wrestling team at Iowa State University. They’re big, strong, and a little bit full of themselves. They know they have skills, both on and off the mats. What they weren’t expecting was for any girl to knock them off their feet. Books in this series are The Studying Hours, The Failing Hours, and The Learning Hours. So far, my favorite is The Studying Hours.

The Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy is another university-centered story, this time focusing on four members of the hockey team all living together, you guessed it, off campus. The banter between the roommates is so entertaining. One aspect of these books I enjoyed was the support of the couples by the roommates. They didn’t really give each other flak for being in a relationship and welcomed the girls into the “family” with open arms. There are four books in this complete series: The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, and The Goal. My favorite of the series: The Deal.

And last but not least, Amy Daws’ Harris Brothers. Set in the U.K., this series is about the legendary soccer family, the Harris’. Not only are these stories fun, but the family is wonderful as well. They’re a loud, large family in each other’s business all the time. The women of these stories are just as vibrant as the family. There are three books in the series so far: Challenge, Endurance, and Keeper. My favorite of the trio: Endurance.

In each of these series, none of the guys are ready for the girl that come into their life. They’re knocked off their feet by these women. There is a varying degree of douchebaggery to each guy, some more douchey than others. But that’s what makes each of these series fun. Watching these guys fall and fall hard in love. These books can all be read as stand-alone novels, but will have character cameos from other books. Find these stories and swoon away. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

*I say this trope is typically hero-centric because Sarah Ney decides to flip this in her third book, How To Date a Douchebag: The Learning Hours. Rather than the douchebag male lead, that role falls to the female lead. Though 90% of my description for the lovable douchebag still is applicable to her.


Review: Spotless by Camilla Monk

If a handsome, gentleman professional killer with OCD broke into your home looking for a diamond your mother stole, what would you do? If you’re Island Chaptal, you mistake him for your roommate’s boyfriend, berate him for organizing your tax forms, only to realize your mistake, and arm yourself with a pink vegetable knife. This is the start of Camilla Monk’s book Spotless.

Every once in a while, when I dig through the millions of books on Amazon, I stumble across one that is a hidden treasure. Author Camilla Monk and her Spotless series is one such treasure.

In her own words, The Spotless Series are books “with the hitman and the virgin – April and Islet, or something like that. They’re written by Camilla Monk, a virtually unknown author who somehow tricked a bunch of people into publishing books about ostriches and killer platypuses.”

And that’s probably the most succinct, yet incorrect description of these books ever.

Spotless is indeed a story about a hitman and a virgin. To be more accurate, this is an action packed, espionage love story between a hitman and a, well, she is a virgin, but she’s also a brilliant IT engineer. The virgin is Island Chaptal, nerdy IT engineer with a love of random Wikipedia facts and romance novels. The hitman is March (last name redacted), a South African, gentleman professional killer with OCD and a love of ostriches.

In many ways, these books remind me of the TV series, Chuck, but gender-bent. Instead of the nerdy male IT genius-turned-spy, that role falls to Island. Instead of the super competent, female super-spy, that is March. There are other parallels I could draw from book to TV show, but I think it’d be more fun for you to find out (plus, spoilers).

In Spotless, March is searching for the priceless diamond Island’s late mother stole. The clues lead him right to Island’s very messy door. Together they dodge bullets and right hooks, traveling from New York to Paris to Tokyo, following clue’s Island’s mother left behind. And while they’re getting closer to the diamond, they’re getting closer to each other. The most dangerous part of this adventure might be falling in love.

I fell in love with Spotless because of the nerdy heroine, quirky humor, and all around fun story. I stayed for the series because of the nerdy heroine, quirky humor, and ever-increasing fun, slightly cliffhanger story line. And, gosh-dang-it, will Island EVER lose her virginity? A couple can only handle so much coitus-interruptus. I’m getting ahead of myself…and the first book.

I absolutely loved the characters. Island and March are unique people, with fascinating backgrounds. Island’s compassionate, guileless personality is the perfect yin to March’s controlling, gentlemanly yang personality. I have a soft spot in my heart for nerdy heroines and Island is such a wonderful example of this trope. I found myself giggling with excitement over the various nerd-references Monk included. And March, despite his profession, is a gentleman. He’s not a Bond-like-Casanova. Rather, he lives by a strict moral code and has a deep devotion to the few trustworthy people in his life. Not only that, but the supporting characters are equally as compelling. Monk provides an amazing cast to tell these stories and tie the plot together.

While I love this book, there are some moments in which I need to suspend my disbelief more than usual. There are some things that are so quirky and unrealistic that I need to just laugh it off and move on. For one thing, the big elephant in the room: the fact the story borders on a Stockholm syndrome romance. And two: the story takes place over the course of roughly five days, in which these two fall in love.

These stories are so much fun. Even while they’re running away from adversaries or running into danger, Monk brings her own brand of humor and quirk. There is a lightheartedness to these book that most espionage romance books lack (for reasons, I get it). But that just makes this series even better.

If you’re looking for a fun, action-packed romance story, I highly recommend grabbing Spotless. After which you should immediately start reading Beating RubyCrystal Whisperer, Butterfly in Amber, and Apache Strike Force. The series as a whole is absolutely wonderful. Plus, to really complete the story, get your HEA, and save the world, you need to read the whole series.

If you don’t have time to read these books with the holiday season coming up, you can find the series on audible. The narrator, Amy McFadden does an outstanding job bringing the stories and characters to life! I could listen to this on repeat, no problem.

Fantastic Quotes

~My knees buckled when I opened my underwear drawer-neatly folded and sorted by fricking color. March. I made damn sure I messed my stuff back into complete chaos while I fished for a bra and a pair of panties. This was a question of honor.

~Perhaps I should mention that there was another important thing I had learned from my encounter with March: the toxicity factor of a gangster is a real number that can be expressed as: (w/f) – g, where f would be how gentle he sounds on a scale of one to ten, w the umber of wrinkles on his shirt, and g the number of black leather gloves. The lower the score, the higher the toxicity factor, -1.9 being the worst possible scenario. A quick mental calculation told me that while March had scored a remarkable -1.25, Creepy-hat was dangerously close to…-1.86.

~“I’m sorry for being a little tense, Island. I suppose I’m not used to having guests in the front seat. My clients usually ride in the trunk, you know.”

~Coming straight from Ukraine, the AZ504 was some huge high-tech bazooka with a digital aim, complete with real-time detection of your targets, and cool app that posted a status updated on your Twitter account, saying “BOOM!” every time you fired it.

~“Of course. Kalahari and I will have a frank discussion, and payback is on its way, but I know her. I know she meant well, and I suppose it won’t be the end of the world.” He smiled. “Payback?” “Do you know how long she’s bee waiting for that crocodile bag Ilan ordered for her from Hermès?” I shook my head in response. “Seven months. Do you know when it will be completed and delivered?” I shook my head again. “Never. Some ‘asshat,’ as you would put it, had his PA inform the boutique that the order was canceled.”


Island Chaptal—nerdy IT engineer by day, romance novel junkie by night—just walked into her messy New York apartment to find Mr. Right waiting for her. No, wait…Mr. Clean.

A gentleman professional killer with a bad case of OCD and zero tolerance for unsorted laundry, March isn’t there to kill her…yet. He wants the diamond her late mother stole for a sinister criminal organization. Island agrees to help him find it, facing the kind of adversaries who dismember first and ask questions later. Good thing she’s got March to show her the ropes. And the guns. And the knives.

The buttoned-up Island is soon having a blast racing from Paris to Tokyo following the clues in her mother’s will, and for the first time, she’s ready to get close to someone. But falling for a hit man may be the very definition of loving dangerously.…

Spotless marks the beginning of Island and March’s ongoing adventures.

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Review: Kissing Tolstoy by Penny Reid

If you’re at all familiar with Penny Reid and her newsletters, you’d have been privy to the knowledge that each month, she’s been publishing a chapter to her short story Nobody Looks Good In Leather Pants (NLGILP). It’s been exciting, to say the least, to eagerly await news from The Evil Overlord ™, scroll down, and get the latest chapter in this story.

Well friends, this week NLGILP was released in full book format, retitled as Kissing Tolstoy. And it. Was. Fabulous!

Kissing Tolstoy is the first book in the Overlord’s new Professor series. If you’ve been reading the newsletter chapters and have picked up the book copy, you’ll notice there are a few more additions. Specifically a few chapters from Luca’s POV! SQUEE! Also, if you grab a copy of the book, Reid includes the first chapter of the next book in the series, Nobody Looks Good Naked (working title). Which…I think she’s going to release the next book the same way she released this one…via newsletter, one chapter per month, driving her readers insane since we can’t binge through another of her books (this is why she’s evil).

This book is about Anna I. Harris and Luca Kroft. Student and professor, respectively. After fleeing from an awkward blind date of mistaken identity (and the only man who looks good in leather pants), Anna forgets and moves on. That is until she walks into her Russian Lit class only to discover the ridiculously hot blind date is her professor. And suddenly the summer course looks a lot harder than she thought it’d be.

Anna is dismayed and horrified to learn whom her new professor is. But the longer she’s in his class, the more she’s drawn to his intelligence, charisma, and patience. And it’s absolutely unfair how good he looks in leather pants and bowties (but not at the same time). Luca is enraptured by her passion and humor, much to his initial dismay. Anna is convinced that she is not Luca’s “type of nice [girl]”, and he’s convinced she is. This book was filled with awkward moments, intense debates about Russian literature, and lots and lots of pining. So much pining.

Now, let’s also not forget the sexual tension because…wow! You could cut it with a knife. You know that scene in the new Pride and Prejudice movie where Elizabeth and Darcy are dancing, arguing (as per usual), and with a swell of music and spin, everything else has faded from notice. Elizabeth and Darcy are too wrapped up in their sexual tension to notice anyone else in the room.

That is Luca and Anna. But in a classroom setting. There were strange, high-pitched noises emitting from my mouth during these parts. Equal part squee and OMG!

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about this book since it is dealing with a student/professor relationship. I get a little apprehensive about books where there is such an imbalance in power dynamic. However, I think Kissing Tolstoy did a fairly good job addressing that issue. It didn’t make me want to scream at Luca that he’s risking his career by pursuing Anna.

Anna and Luca are a fun new addition to the Reid Universe. They challenge each other, make each other laugh, and both are nerds for Russian lit. It was filled with witty one-liners that I’ve come to expect from Reid. No matter if Reid gives her readers a short story or a full-length book, she is able to spin wonderful stories that have me yearning for more. Kissing Tolstoy is no exception.

Fantastical Quotes

And he’s still not my kind of nice. How do you know? Just look at his forearms!

Yes, I felt shabby and small, but that’s okay. I was shabby and small. There’s nothing wrong with being shabby and small. Hobbits are shabby and small and look how badass they are. Plus, second breakfast for the win.

“I want to know you, Anna. Let me know you.”

You straddle that bike, professor. You straddle it so hard.

It was very likely I would trade sexual favors for Luca reading to me in Russian. And I’d enjoy every minute of it.

If Russian literature and tragic novels had taught me one thing it was this: disappointment and heartache might be around the next corner. But adventure, love, joy, and happiness -the living of a rich, meaningful life-was now.

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Review: Captive Rebel by Erin McDermott

I was contacted by the author to write an honest review.

Captive Rebel is the story of two warring nations, a spy, a prince, and their growing love for each other. Set in a dystopian society, the Greek gods have played with the fates and fortunes of humankind. In a dying, overpopulated earth, the two gods Zeus and Poseidon, favoring those who are faithful, have aided them in their fight against the unfaithful. These faithful are the Allegiant. With the help from these gods, the unfaithful are decimated, the survivors forced to flee to the hills and forest, aided by the god of the underworld, Hades. These are the Rebels.

The story opens with our protagonist, Rebel spy, Marylyn O’Conner, undercover as a servant girl in the Allegiant palace She, along with two other spies, Ian Ramos and Charles Burket, have discovered that the long-captured Allegiant prince, Ariston, has been rescued and is returning to the palace. Their time is up and they must escape back to Rebel lands. During the escape, Marylyn is captured, by none other than the prince himself.

While under his captive care, Marylyn realizes Price Ariston is not the horrible monster the Rebels have painted him to be. And what starts out as hostile irritation slowly turns into admiration and then love between the Prince and the Spy.

One thing that I enjoyed about this book is that Marylyn wasn’t the typical burdens-of-the-world-thrust-on-her-shoulders, must-save-all-the-things heroine. Her main agenda is to complete this mission and be reunited with her parents (which is part of the story I’ll let you discover for yourself). This easily could have turned into another invincible-savior-heroine, but didn’t. And I appreciated that change of pace. A lot of the YA books I pick up anymore do use that trope and it feels overused. I like that Captive Rebel didn’t follow that formula. Marylyn has been trained to fight, which is evident and well used, but there is no savior complex. She felt a lot more human to me than other YA heroines.

The other part of this story I appreciated was that there was no clear “good guy vs. bad guy.” As the story progressed, I didn’t find myself rooting solely for the Rebels nor did my sympathies switch to the Allegiant. There were clearly “bad guys” in both Rebel and Allegiant camps with neither side absolved of atrocities committed against each other. There are also people on both sides who desire for the war end and to build a peaceful world. The main troupe of characters in this book are fighting towards this common goal, no matter what side they’re on. The idea that “we must work together” worked for this story.

This book was enjoyable, and I found the above mentioned to be refreshing changes from the normal YA heroines – I’m looking at you Katniss Everdeen and Beatrice Prior (not to say that I didn’t like THOSE books, but the similarities between the two are vast). I realize that I’m 30 years old, these books are written for teenagers, and my age is coloring this review, but I wanted a little bit more. This book has a lot of potential. The premise of the story and the world that McDermott has created is interesting.

What do I mean by this? I mentioned the world this story is set in. As I said above, this book is a dystopia society based in Greek religion, torn apart by way, and potentially set in a war-torn United States. However, that’s all we know. And I’m only guessing they’re in the good old U.S. of A. because Marylyn wears a Statue of Liberty necklace. However, there is nothing else mentioned about ANY of this world. I love world building and this world has so much potential that isn’t explored. Maybe it doesn’t need to be, the romance is the key focus in this book, but I would have loved some more exposition about the world this series is built in.

The other part of this story I would have loved to be explored more is the romance. This is kind of an insta-attraction story and I honestly would have loved if Marylyn and Ariston spent a bit more time getting to know each other. McDermott could have given these two history outside of the main plot line (i.e. interactions with each other while both in Rebel territory) to give their romance some more substance. While we saw that Ariston wasn’t out for vengeance, I wanted to get to know his character more. I wanted more from these two lovers, which the pacing of the story didn’t really allow for.

Now, this is a really quick read (it took me about 2 hours to read this book, if that), so the romance that she builds between these two does work, for the most part, given everything that happens in this story. But I wouldn’t have minded one bit if there was more development to the story as a whole. Don’t take these criticisms to mean I didn’t like the book. I found it enjoyable. The writing was well done, and the supporting characters were also enjoyable (I especially liked Orion). Like I said, this book, and the series, has a lot of potential, I just want more.

This has a sweet romance, a capable and intelligent heroine, a compassionate prince, and a larger, multi-series plot. If you want a quick read with hints of Greek mythology, grab this book. I think you’ll enjoy it.


Destined to be enemies, bound by fate…

Prince Ariston rules over the Allegiant – an elite faction favored by the Greek Gods. Separated from his family at a young age, he became a prisoner to the rebellion.

Marylyn O’Conner is a rebel, forced to do the rebellion’s bidding until an unforgiving family debt is paid. A pawn in the war for rebels to gain their freedom, she is obligated to become a spy, or her family will suffer.

Driven by revenge after returning from captivity, Prince Ariston makes it his mission to hunt down rebel spies, capturing Marylyn O’Conner in the process.

Desperate, Marylyn knows she needs to escape her alluring captor, or risk the safety of her family.

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