Contemporary, Contemporary (Teen)

Indulging My Romantic Side – Reviews of Romance ARCs

Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Romance isn’t my go-to genre. But when it came to these books, they are more to my taste. Whilst I’m not a fan of raunchy stories, I am partial to cute romance here and there. So here is my review of a few romance novels:

The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor: Cute Cute Cute!

Rep: disability, LGBTQIA+ side characters

The Code for Love and Heartbreak book cover

The Code for Love and Heartbreak

by Jillian Cantor

Published September 6, 2020 by Inkyard Press
ISBN: 1335090592

Data from Goodreads

Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)

Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

This was such a cute story! It was such a nice modernisation of Jane Austen’s Emma, and it was easy to read. I liked the pacing and the writing style made this a quick read for me. The concept of this story is so relevant in this day and age – there are so many dating apps that use algorithms to “match” people so I can definitely relate to that idea here. The MC was very well developed and loveable, despite her flaws. If you are looking for a nice lighthearted YA read, then definitely give this a shot!

The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada: Wrong On All Counts

Rep: Asian, Black

The Wrong Mr. Darcy book cover

The Wrong Mr. Darcy

by Evelyn Lozada

Published August 25th 2020by St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 125062214X

Data from Goodreads

Hara Isari has big ambitions and they won’t be sidetracked by her mother’s insisting that she settle down soon. She dreams of leaving her small-town newspaper behind, as well as her felon father, and building a career as a sports writer, so when she is chosen to exclusively interview a basketball superstar, she jumps at the chance. It’s time to show the bigwigs what she’s truly made of.

At the same time, she meets a rookie on the rise, Derek Darcy. Darcy is incredibly handsome, obnoxiously proud, and has a major chip on his shoulder. Hara can’t think of a man more arrogant and infuriating. However, fate keeps bringing them together—from locker rooms to elegant parties, to the storm of the century—and what begins as a clash might just be more complicated than Hara anticipated. When she begins to see Darcy in a new light, Hara is not quite sure if she should drop the ball or play the love game.

Where do I even begin with this novel? I was hoping for a cute retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but this was just terrible. The writing is extremely choppy and the pacing was all over the place, making it difficult for readers to follow along. The MC is a confusing character, both in identity and personality; the author tried to do too much with her and nothing worked. This novel has a sports angle to it, but any sports fan (and non-fan) would be disappointed by the inaccurate representation here. I wish I could say one good thing about this novel … but I can’t. Do yourself a favour, and skip this novel.

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao: Slightly Disappointing

Rep: Asian

Rent A Boyfriend book cover

Rent A Boyfriend

by Gloria Chao

Published November 10th 2020by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 1534462457

Data from Goodreads

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

I was so eager to read this novel because of its quirkiness and relatability! My own experiences with my family allowed me to sympathize with the struggles of both main characters. I liked both of their personalities and motivations individually. However, the actual romantic connection between them fell short for me. The pacing was also problematic, with choppy scenes and a writing style that was just over-the-top. This story had a lot of potential, but it just didn’t hit the mark.

You Have A Match by Emma Lord: A Found Family Story


You Have A Match book cover

You Have A Match

by Emma Lord

Published January 12th 2021by Wednesday Books
ISBN: 1250237300

Data from Goodreads

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie … although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

My favorite thing about this YA contemporary is that it is all about found families. Yes, there is romance, but this novel focuses more on identity and bonds between family and friends. It was a really sweet story and it got me emotional at times. That being said, I wasn’t a major fan of the MC; she got herself into problematic situations for absolutely no reason other than furthering the plot. I was more drawn to other characters in the story and would have loved to read from their perspectives. Since I enjoyed this novel, I’m giving it 3/5 stars!

Smash It! by Francina Simone: Skip It!

Smash It! book cover

Smash It!

by Francina Simone

Published September 22nd 2020by Inkyard Press
ISBN: 1335146504

Data from Goodreads

Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does…

After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts–why, God, why?–she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list–a F*ck-It list.

1. Be bold–do the thing that scares me.

2. Learn to take a compliment.

3. Stand out instead of back.

She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv’s heart is interested in three different guys–and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she’s not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?

In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?”

A lot, apparently.


Initially, I was going to be reviewing this novel as I usually do, by pointing out its positives and negatives. I had actually liked this book because it had a lot going for it. However, the author has chosen to make some racist remarks towards Hawaiian people and made an extremely insensitive joke regarding the Palestinian genocide. The author has also not rectified this in print copies of this book. I am completely against any of the remarks made by this author in her book, and will not be giving any star ratings or promoting this book. However enticing this story may seem, its racist comment mean I can only encourage readers to skip it for better options.

Well, there you have it! 5 different romance novels, in one month! Hopefully, some of them have caught your eye – if any have, let me know!

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