Hard Sell (Jade Harbour Capital #1) by Hudson Lin

One night wasn’t enough.
Danny Yip walks into every boardroom with a plan. His plan for struggling tech company WesTec is to acquire it, shut it down, and squeeze the last remaining revenue out of it for his Jade Harbour Capital portfolio. But he didn’t expect his best friend’s younger brother—the hottest one-night stand he ever had—to be there.
Tobin Lok has always thought the world of Danny. He’s funny, warm, attractive—and totally out of Tobin’s league. Now, pitted against Danny at work, Tobin might finally get a chance to prove he’s more than just Wei’s little brother.
It takes a lot to get under Danny’s skin, but Tobin is all grown up in a way Danny can’t ignore. Now, with a promising patent on the line and the stakes higher than ever, all he can think about is getting Tobin back into his bed—and into his life for good.
If only explaining their relationship to Wei could be so easy

An surprisingly sweet couple, but what I’ve come to expect from an offering from Carina Adores. 😉

Before I started Hard Sell, I wasn’t expecting Danny to be the character that I sympathized with most. I loved both Danny and Tobin, but Danny really tugged at my heartstrings. It may have been because his personality away from his job seemed to be polar opposite of the man he was on the job. That clash was beginning to weigh on him even before he ran into Tobin again.

Tobin had a lot to prove, mainly to himself. He was tired of being considered the baby of the family that everyone had to look out for. Danny didn’t see him that way at all. And that was a problem – at least Danny thought it was. What Danny wanted most in his life was a family and as much as he wanted Tobin in his life, he couldn’t risk losing the closest thing he had to a family in the process.

I loved Danny and Tobin’s story, even through the tears. ❤ I loved the family interactions, even the tense ones. I adored the scenes with Danny and Wei’s kids. All of this together made Tobin and Danny’s hard won HEA even sweeter.

The Hate Project (The Love Study #2) by Kris Ripper

This arrangement is either exactly what they need–or a total disaster
Oscar is a grouch.
That’s a well-established fact among his tight-knit friend group, and they love him anyway.
Jack is an ass.
Jack, who’s always ready with a sly insult, who can’t have a conversation without arguing, and who Oscar may or may not have hooked up with on a strict no-commitment, one-time-only basis. Even if it was extremely hot.
Together, they’re a bickering, combative mess.
When Oscar is fired (answering phones is not for the anxiety-ridden), he somehow ends up working for Jack. Maybe while cleaning out Jack’s grandmother’s house they can stop fighting long enough to turn a one-night stand into a frenemies-with-benefits situation.
The house is an archaeological dig of love and dysfunction, and while Oscar thought he was prepared, he wasn’t. It’s impossible to delve so deeply into someone’s past without coming to understand them at least a little, but Oscar has boundaries for a reason—even if sometimes Jack makes him want to break them all down.
After all, hating Jack is less of a risk than loving him…

Although I haven’t picked up all of the Carina Adores offerings, I’m loving what I’ve read so far. Which brings me to the fact that I somehow missed the first book in Kris Ripper’s The Love Study series. I need to rectify that because I really need to get to know Oscar and Jack’s friends – because as friends go, this crew is amazing!

In the beginning, the short description of Oscar and Jack is pretty accurate. “Jack is an a**” and “Oscar is a grouch” – but that’s only on the surface. There’s so much more to both of these guys. The fact that they seem to bring out the worst in each other doesn’t help. They’ve both put up emotional walls that they are desperately afraid to let down.

I loved watching these two get closer and pick away at those walls. It broke my heart when the inevitable happened and those walls came up stronger than they were before. Since The Hate Project was told entirely from Oscar’s POV it would have been easy to sympathize with him, but my heart surprisingly went out to Jack more than once. And although the story was Jack and Oscar’s, their friends were a driving force in The Hate Project. They may have loved Oscar, but they didn’t coddle him. They called him out when he was wrong, but were there for him regardless.

As I said, this is one series that I’m definitely going to back track. The Love Study isn’t part of Carina Adores, but after meeting these characters and reading the description, I already know it’s the beginning that I shouldn’t have missed out on. 😉

Best Laid Plans (Garnet Run #2) by Roan Parrish

A man who’s been moving his whole life finally finds a reason to stay put.
Charlie Matheson has spent his life taking care of things. When his parents died two days before his eighteenth birthday, he took care of his younger brother, even though that meant putting his own dreams on hold. He took care of his father’s hardware store, building it into something known several towns over. He took care of the cat he found in the woods…so now he has a cat.
When a stranger with epic tattoos and a glare to match starts coming into Matheson’s Hardware, buying things seemingly at random and lugging them off in a car so beat-up Charlie feels bad for it, his instinct is to help. When the man comes in for the fifth time in a week, Charlie can’t resist intervening.
Rye Janssen has spent his life breaking things. Promises. His parents’ hearts. Leases. He isn’t used to people wanting to put things back together—not the crumbling house he just inherited, not his future and certainly not him. But the longer he stays in Garnet Run, the more he can see himself belonging there. And the more time he spends with Charlie, the more he can see himself falling asleep in Charlie’s arms…and waking up in them.
Is this what it feels like to have a home—and someone to share it with?

Charlie was introduced in the first Garnet Run book, Better than People. His inability to keep from helping and hovering over his brother after his accident gave readers a glimpse into his protective personality. Getting into his head in Best Laid Plans helped to understand where that protective instinct came from.

Then there was Rye… beautifully broken Rye… *sigh* I knew exactly how Charlie felt about wanting to help him, even though he put up a huge wall of independence and defiance. Charlie was a force to be reckoned with and before long, Rye didn’t want to resist.

Things weren’t perfect though and at times Charlie’s protective streak was a bit much. I loved where the story went though and how both Rye and Charlie brought out the best in each other and helped mend a lifetime of pain. Charlie wasn’t quite as “unbroken” as he pretended to be and those are my favorite kind of characters.

The Beautiful Things Shoppe (Seasons of New Hope #2) by Philip William Stover

Moving to eclectic New Hope, Pennsylvania, and running The Beautiful Things Shoppe is a dream come true for elegant and reserved fine arts dealer Prescott J. Henderson. He never agreed to share the space with Danny Roman, an easygoing extrovert who collects retro toys and colorful knickknacks.
And yet here they are, trapped together in the quaint shop as they scramble to open in time for New Hope’s charming Winter Festival.
Danny has spent years leading with his heart instead of his head. The Beautiful Things Shoppe is his chance to ground himself and build something permanent and joyful. The last thing he needs is an uptight snob who doesn’t appreciate his whimsy occupying half his shop.
It’s only when two of New Hope’s historic landmarks—each as different as Danny and Prescott—are threatened that a tentative alliance forms. And with it, the first blush of romance. Suddenly, running The Beautiful Things Shoppe together doesn’t seem so bad…until Danny’s secret threatens to ruin it all.

Talk about a prickly pair. On paper, Prescott and Danny should be named the least likely couple. Yet, the previous owner of The Beautiful Things Shoppe, saw something in both of them that they couldn’t see in each other. Regardless, they started butting heads from the moment they met. It didn’t help that their mentor didn’t clue them in. He probably knew that one or the other, or even both of them would refuse if he had mentioned that they were meant to run the antique shop together. It definitely wasn’t a match made in heaven… at least in the beginning.

Prescott and Danny each had something to prove and their stubborness overruled their frustration because neither one of them could afford to back down. They slowly come to an uneasy alliance and find out that sharing space isn’t all bad, especially when they find a common goal. Danny has more than one secret he’s keeping from Prescott and it all most blows everything. Sometimes it takes a village, and it turns out that New Hope is aptly named. 😉

Just like Tack and Vince from The Hidaway Inn, Prescott and Danny took a while to win me over, but once they did I couldn’t get enough of this unlikely couple. FYI – Tack and Vince are part of the supporting cast in The Beautiful Things Shoppe and it was fun to check in on them. I’m not sure if readers will be treated to more quality time in New Hope, but I hope there’s more to come.