The Kissing Game
"I bet you a kiss you can't resist me."Game on.Rena Jackson is ready. She's worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she's almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena's also a diehard romantic, and she's had her eye on bar regular Axel Heller for a while. He's got that tall-dark-and-handsome thing going big time. Problem is, he's got that buttoned-up Germanic ice man thing going as well. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Rena's about ready to give up on Axel and find her own Mr. Right.At six foot six, Axel knows he intimidates most people. He's been crushing on the gorgeous waitress for months. But the muscled mechanic is no romantic, and his heart is buried so deep, he has no idea how to show Rena what he feels. He knows he's way out of his depth and she's slipping away. So, he makes one crazy, desperate play...

The Kissing Game Details

TitleThe Kissing Game
Author
ReleaseFeb 4th, 2020
PublisherSourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN-139781492696988
Rating
GenreRomance, Contemporary, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Adult

The Kissing Game Review

  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    I literally danced, screamed and somersaulted (at least five times) with the positive energy to get an Arc Copy of romance story. But as soon as I gave a second glimpse to the blurb and read loudly about the definition of our hero: tall-dark-handsome with pale skin and blonde hair German, I rubbed my eyes several times and I thought maybe I over exaggerated my wine oclock time but no it is still 5 p.m and I was still nursing my sixth cup of coffee (Yes! Sooner I was about to tear my clothes and I literally danced, screamed and somersaulted (at least five times) with the positive energy to get an Arc Copy of romance story. But as soon as I gave a second glimpse to the blurb and read loudly about the definition of our hero: tall-dark-handsome with pale skin and blonde hair German, I rubbed my eyes several times and I thought maybe I over exaggerated my wine o’clock time but no it is still 5 p.m and I was still nursing my sixth cup of coffee (Yes! Sooner I was about to tear my clothes and turn into Hulk, jumping around the room with extra caffeine loading) and yes, words were real. I was not hallucinating.I skipped the blurb and started my reading my brain started to send me the messages:SORRY THE HEROINE YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH CANNOT BE FOUND AT THIS MOMENT!POOR YOU, THE LOVE STORY AND CHEMISTRY YOU YEARN FOR CANNOT BE FOUND IN THIS BOOK, TOO!SORRY, THE BOOK BOYFRIEND YOU DREAMED OF AND FOUND LATELY at “The worst best man” (Yes, I’m talking about Max) CANNOT BE FOUND, TOO.I truly love diversity stories and see the emotionally reserved people’s changing when they hopelessly fall in love. I also like sweet and sexy dialogues and of course I adore undeniable chemistry of the characters. But sorry, I couldn’t relate with any of them and I couldn’t find anything to love this book.I rounded my 2.5 stars. It was dull and tasteless reading but not so horrible and dissatisfying one like I had when I read the last book of L.J. Shen. So let’s round up the stars to 3 and finish this review.Special thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for sharing this ARC COPY in exchange my honest review.
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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 20%: Unfortunately, this was a DNF for me. I really didn't like either of the characters and I found the writing to be extremely cringey and unrealistic. This was just very much not for me.
  • Vernie♡
    January 1, 1970
    I can't BELIEVE this book synopsis called this dude "tall dark and handsome" with pale skin and blonde hair. Where is this dark you speak of? Where is it??
  • Sonali
    January 1, 1970
    This book tries to jump on the diversity bandwagon and fails in every sense. Its a textbook case of white people trying to write POC and flailing. This book needed a sensitivity reader. This book tries to jump on the “diversity” bandwagon and fails in every sense. It’s a textbook case of white people trying to write POC and flailing. This book needed a sensitivity reader.
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  • Lee
    January 1, 1970
    And the award for the most falsely advertised novel of the year goes to... The Kissing Game! The cover says chick lit and implies diversity so, I'll tackle those two things first.This is not chick lit. If you want a better idea of the type of romance the book is, check out Hartes other title covers. They all suit. This book doesnt say its part of Body Shop Bad Boy or Power Up! series (oh dear) but, apparently, the same characters appear and theyre all the series are connected somewhere along the And the award for the most falsely advertised novel of the year goes to... The Kissing Game! The cover says chick lit and implies diversity so, I'll tackle those two things first.This is not chick lit. If you want a better idea of the type of ‘romance’ the book is, check out Harte’s other title covers. They all suit. This book doesn’t say it’s part of Body Shop Bad Boy or Power Up! series (oh dear) but, apparently, the same characters appear and they’re all the series are connected somewhere along the line. The characters do ramble on about the fact the heroine reads lots of romance books. This apparently makes her intelligent and a true romantic (huh?). However, there’s no cute pop culture references throughout (or even any mention of what books are the heroine's favourites), so it’s hardly an exciting plot point or characterisation which might get the book included on a chick lit tag. In fact it seemed irrelevant and more something for the hero to say, ‘omg that makes her even hotter’ about. So, why did the publisher/author opt for this cover this time around? Sales, I assume. Which, I assume, might be the same reason Harte decided to also play the diversity card with her heroine. Yes, the heroine is introduced as a POC (in passing really) but any racism or topical issues which might have been included because of her heritage certainly weren't evident by the time I tossed the book onto my DNF pile. Meanwhile the hero is German and we know this because Harte throws in an annoying amount of basic German words to demonstrate this (*rolls eyes*). The blurb was also false advertising. It promises an original sweet and sassy romantic idea and even erroneously calls the hero ‘tall dark and handsome’. When the publisher can’t even get that smallest detail right, we know we're off to a bad start. Yes, yes, I suppose there’s nothing technically wrong with this type of book. If characters being attracted physically to each other but barely saying two words to each other and therefore, having nothing in common personality-wise is your thing, go for it. (In fact, until I stopped reading, most of the conversations the two leads had were with other people who must have been characters from previous books, meaning I got to read how those characters found their respective partners physically attractive too. *yawn*) For me though, there’s nothing interesting about two people having thinky thoughts about how hot someone of the opposite sex is for chapters on end.There was definitely no real plot conflict by the time I gave up. Oh, the hero is apparently quiet and not very romantic (case in point was that he asks her out for coffee for their first date instead of a full-on romantic dinner... w.t.f.) and probably doesn't want a serious relationship (I couldn't quite work out how the heroine came to this conclusion) but none of these things does a conflict make.Even the label of hot romance was falsely advertised. I hadn’t gotten to any sex scenes yet but I reckon I probably dodged a bullet because the leads had zero chemistry. Truly, for someone with such a large back catalogue of romance books, Harte’s attempt at sexual chemistry and her descriptions of kissing (which I did get to) fell flat and weren’t very good overall. The final moment of false advertising is the book's price. Okay, okay… If (big if) you had some free time, this book might be okay (but I have a zillion things to read, so I’m opting out). I’m sure (considering how many books Harte seems to sell) some people will think this type of romance is right up their alley. But, given the interchangeable characters and basic plot and overly coarse tone, I think a couple of bucks would be more realistic a price to pay and not the RRP of around $16.1 out of 5 DNF
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  • Stacee
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 36%I got sucked in by that adorable cover and the synopsis promising a fun sounding, banter filled story. Sadly it didnt come close to delivering. I didnt care for either of the characters. Rena and Axel both waiver so much and often to the extreme. She will be enjoying a conversation with him and then immediately think about how she wants kids and decides hes not The One. This was on the first date. Hes prone to saying random words in German and storming off. Together theres absolutely DNF at 36%I got sucked in by that adorable cover and the synopsis promising a fun sounding, banter filled story. Sadly it didn’t come close to delivering. I didn’t care for either of the characters. Rena and Axel both waiver so much and often to the extreme. She will be enjoying a conversation with him and then immediately think about how she wants kids and decides he’s not The One. This was on the first date. He’s prone to saying random words in German and storming off. Together there’s absolutely no chemistry. Oh, and he’s often referenced as “tall, dark, and handsome” when it’s stated that he’s blond with fair skin. Plot wise, it was a hot mess. There are loads and loads and loads of characters and I found out from other reviews that this book is a companion to another series....which is why it made sense that it immediately felt like I was dropped into the middle of the story. Tons of push and pull and an obsession with Valentine’s Day made this a struggle to keep reading.I did get to 36% and then skipped around, skimming for anything that would interest me. I found some violence, hate slang words, and talks of domestic violence. I didn’t read any of the racism and hate crime scenes, but I’ve seen other reviews mention it. Overall, it was a cute cover, but the story definitely didn’t match. **Huge thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for providing the arc free of charge**
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  • Mindy Lou's Book Review
    January 1, 1970
    I've been following along with these families and friends for a while now. I'm the kind of reader who loves when characters constantly show up in book after book, so I can easily say that I really enjoyed seeing everyone again. I've gotten to know both Rena and Axel as side characters. I'm always amazed how different a side character from a previous book can be once they become a main character. Axel was a very good surprise. I adored him in this book. You get a lot of Axel's pov. The way he I've been following along with these families and friends for a while now. I'm the kind of reader who loves when characters constantly show up in book after book, so I can easily say that I really enjoyed seeing everyone again. I've gotten to know both Rena and Axel as side characters. I'm always amazed how different a side character from a previous book can be once they become a main character. Axel was a very good surprise. I adored him in this book. You get a lot of Axel's pov. The way he feels about Rena was something that just melted me into a puddle. The fact that he is this big, Viking-like guy who doesn't talk that much and can come off a bit scary, could show that shy, crush-like personality just slayed me. I loved him.The problem with me loving Axel so much, is that I really wanted to knock Rena in the head. A lot. All I can say is if I had this Viking God courting me, I would die a happy woman. Despite wanting to shake Rena a few times, I did truly enjoy this book and seeing all my favorite side characters again.
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  • Bibliomedico
    January 1, 1970
    I have read this book as a standalone ( Without reading any of Marie Hart previous books ) , Maybe that's the reason , I actually didn't enjoy this story at all , I was super confused most of the time.There weren't many character explanation, even for the main characters .If you haven't read the previous books in the series , personally , I don't recommend reading this one alone .Axel and Rena love story was OK , not fascinating , didn't enjoy their scenes that much .For Me , The best thing I have read this book as a standalone ( Without reading any of Marie Hart previous books ) , Maybe that's the reason , I actually didn't enjoy this story at all , I was super confused most of the time.There weren't many character explanation, even for the main characters .If you haven't read the previous books in the series , personally , I don't recommend reading this one alone .Axel and Rena love story was OK , not fascinating , didn't enjoy their scenes that much .For Me , The best thing about this novel was the writing style of Marie Hart . I couldn't connect with this book at all .
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  • Annie (Under the Covers Book Blog)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars If you have read Marie Hartes McCauley Brothers and Body Shop Bad Boys series, then you know that this book is a long time coming. Readers have been begging for Rena to get a book and now that she finally got one, I couldnt be happier.I had some high expectations with this book because I was such a big fan of the original McCauley Brothers series. I really felt like Harte was able to capture a lot of the same elements of that series, but also give Rena her own story that was unique 3.5 stars If you have read Marie Harte’s McCauley Brothers and Body Shop Bad Boys series, then you know that this book is a long time coming. Readers have been begging for Rena to get a book and now that she finally got one, I couldn’t be happier.I had some high expectations with this book because I was such a big fan of the original McCauley Brothers series. I really felt like Harte was able to capture a lot of the same elements of that series, but also give Rena her own story that was unique to her.The hero, Axel, turned out to be a little different than what I expected him to be. He was alpha but also quite gentle at the same time. And in terms of the level of heat compared to the other series, this one seemed a bit more toned down.There is also something else that I wanted to note. The cover is very different from what we normally see from this author. I guess that the publisher was going for the trend that’s quite popular right now, but I do definitely prefer her original covers. I think it matches the book a bit better. However, I can totally understand that they wanted to give Rena a special cover because of how unique she was.Nevertheless, it was fun to read this book. I would suggest starting with the McCauley Brothers series if you plan on reading this one, just so you can experience Rena’s story from all angles before you finally read from her POV Read my alternate review at Fresh Fiction
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  • Amber Medley
    January 1, 1970
    This really wasn't it for me. I didn't like the set up or way they went into this relationship. I really couldn't get with the writing. The diversity seemed forced, inauthentic, and clearly written by someone that isn't actually ... aware of the represented communities. I found this utterly forgettable which is unfortunate
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  • Dísir
    January 1, 1970
    'The Kissing Game' just didn't work out for me at all, made all the more so disappointing because of a lively blurb and a promising plot of two pining individuals who just couldn't quite get their game up. But it was precisely this that got the ball rolling too slowly, with German phrases tucked neatly into every conversation Axel had with people and we're talking a hell lot of supporting cast members, their names and their relations and their quirks to grace the pages from the very start. It 'The Kissing Game' just didn't work out for me at all, made all the more so disappointing because of a lively blurb and a promising plot of two pining individuals who just couldn't quite get their game up. But it was precisely this that got the ball rolling too slowly, with German phrases tucked neatly into every conversation Axel had with people and we're talking a hell lot of supporting cast members, their names and their relations and their quirks to grace the pages from the very start. It was a lot to take in, certainly, and got overwhelming quickly, more so because I couldn't keep up with anything and used up all of my tinted glasses just trying to see the chemistry between Rena and Axel without really understanding the context or their (lack of) past history. This was strangely hard to read for me; maybe 'The Kissing Game' is probably better left for others who would appreciate Marie Harte's style in this one. *ARC by the publisher via Netgalley
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  • Yels
    January 1, 1970
    TW: Rape (briefly mentioned), sexual harassment, and racism. Sometimes clown energy catches up to me and I read books without checking out GR ratings. I wish I had known about this book before being lead astray by the cute cover. My main issue with this book (and there are plenty) is that it was deemed appropriate to include white supremacists as the main issue involving a Black woman and a German man!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT????? Rena is Black and has to deal with a white supremacist coming into her TW: Rape (briefly mentioned), sexual harassment, and racism. Sometimes clown energy catches up to me and I read books without checking out GR ratings. I wish I had known about this book before being lead astray by the cute cover. My main issue with this book (and there are plenty) is that it was deemed appropriate to include white supremacists as the main issue involving a Black woman and a German man!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT????? Rena is Black and has to deal with a white supremacist coming into her shop and on top of that, she has to give him a haircut. Her shop is pretty much burned down because the leader of the white supremacist group wants her for himself in a physical way and I just can't. Who approved this nonsense?? Axel on the other hand is a German dude who is asked to join the supremacist group and my inner history nerd is screaming. No one and I mean NO ONE thought this would be a bad idea? If that's not bad enough, Axel is constantly getting into physical fights throughout the book. In his POV, he states that he does not look for the fights and while this is true, there was one baffling turn of events. Axel is haunted by the fact that he hit his mom once. Yes, he was young and he didn't mean to hit her but she ended up in the hospital from a broken cheek. WHAT?? This is the romance lead? An aggressive guy who obviously needs help? (He goes to therapy at the end so yay?). Towards the end, Axel and a group of other guys capture one of the white supremacists and Axel asks Rena what she wants him to do with the captured guy. Making him disappear was floated as one of the options and suddenly it became a mafia book?? The romance between the two of them was meh at best. It ran hot and cold within the same sentence and the whiplash alone was exhausting. They had zero chemistry and if I read one more time that Axel, the 6'6" German with light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes, is "tall, dark, and handsome" I will start screaming.
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  • Ivy Deluca
    January 1, 1970
    Unfortunately, this is a tale of a blurb gone wrong. I'm all for the nerdylove vibes. I'm all for awkward hero crushing on heroine. But the book that I actually read? Did not match this at all. Between the physical descriptions being off (way off) and a story that centers on racism yet advertised as a rom-com, and doing it all poorly, it just fell flat. I had heard that the blurb didn't match the book, but in the interest of due diligence and looking into it myself, I did read to about 30% or Unfortunately, this is a tale of a blurb gone wrong. I'm all for the nerdylove vibes. I'm all for awkward hero crushing on heroine. But the book that I actually read? Did not match this at all. Between the physical descriptions being off (way off) and a story that centers on racism yet advertised as a rom-com, and doing it all poorly, it just fell flat. I had heard that the blurb didn't match the book, but in the interest of due diligence and looking into it myself, I did read to about 30% or so. I had to give up, so I'm not really rating this, just marking it as DNF. While I'm a proponent of all authors writing diverse characters, if you're going to do it, take care, do it well or just don't. Sadly, this is a case of just don't. Also, it's clearly a story that's part of an ongoing series, and the amount of secondary characters bouncing around and getting page-time just put me off beyond the main narrative issues. It's a no, no, nope.
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  • Clare
    January 1, 1970
    "I bet you a kiss you cant resist me. I really adored the start of this! It was super cute, but the second half kinda let me down. I was expecting more to the actual kissing game, but it was such a tiny part of the book. Our heroine, Rena is a romance lover and is dreaming of her happily ever after, so she pushes Axel away because she doesn't think he's serious about her. Axel is this big, scary german guy who is not great at comminicating and has been crushing on Rena for nearly a year, so he "I bet you a kiss you can’t resist me.” I really adored the start of this! It was super cute, but the second half kinda let me down. I was expecting more to the actual kissing game, but it was such a tiny part of the book. Our heroine, Rena is a romance lover and is dreaming of her happily ever after, so she pushes Axel away because she doesn't think he's serious about her. Axel is this big, scary german guy who is not great at comminicating and has been crushing on Rena for nearly a year, so he tries to win her over by the kissing game where he kisses her to prove that she can't resist him. My favourite part was the cute note Axel wrote Rena and all the gifts he sent her, even though his gifts were wierd, the gesture was sweet. The only complaint I have is that for the amount of problems going on in this book, they all seemed to resolve too easily. The author did try to add diversity, with the heroine being a POC, but it just felt really forced and like the racism was only there to create drama, and to show that the hero would beat guys up for the heroine. I would still recommend though if you're after a quick romance read. Breakdown:Hero: 3/5Heroine: 2.5/5Plot: 2/5Enjoyment: 3.5/5POV: Rena and Axel'sStandalone, no epilogueThank you Netgalley for providing an ARC
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  • Steph's Romance Book Talk
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @32% / 1 Stars / 0 Steam Fans DUMPSTER FIRE TRASH!! Why was this book even released! The author did zero research, had zero cultural sensitivity readers, and is living in a bubble of WHITE PRIVILEGE. I took an entire week to think about what I wanted to say in this review, and I am still speechless by how much I hated this book. Rena and Axel have a secret attraction, but they are both fighting getting together because they feel they are two different from each other. Video review available DNF @32% / 1 Stars / 0 Steam Fans DUMPSTER FIRE TRASH!! Why was this book even released! The author did zero research, had zero cultural sensitivity readers, and is living in a bubble of WHITE PRIVILEGE. I took an entire week to think about what I wanted to say in this review, and I am still speechless by how much I hated this book. Rena and Axel have a secret attraction, but they are both fighting getting together because they feel they are two different from each other. Video review available in Week 9 Feb 23 – 29 weekly book reviews. For other video book reviews, check out my YouTube Channel: Steph's Romance Book Talk.
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  • Tiffany PSquared
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever just wanted to write a one-word review? I often wonder if my conscience would allow me to do it. If it did, my review for The Kissing Game would be: meh.I had no preconceived notions going into this cute-covered romance. It's my first by this author, so I had no idea what to expect or what I'd be getting into.Turns out, although the premise was entirely appealing, the actual story was less than it had the potential to be. However, if you are looking for a quick, VDay-themed, Have you ever just wanted to write a one-word review? I often wonder if my conscience would allow me to do it. If it did, my review for The Kissing Game would be: meh.I had no preconceived notions going into this cute-covered romance. It's my first by this author, so I had no idea what to expect or what I'd be getting into.Turns out, although the premise was entirely appealing, the actual story was less than it had the potential to be. However, if you are looking for a quick, VDay-themed, sexy-infused romance - or if you're just really into sexy German men - then don't count this one out.
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  • Chanelle
    January 1, 1970
    the beginning was really good, but thing started going downhill towards the middle, and then the ending was lackluster and axel wasn't as likeable as when we first started. idk, i got tired of him LOL
  • Anniek
    January 1, 1970
    This book is advertized as being a standalone, but I quickly realized it had to be a sequel of sorts, because it referred to a whole cast of characters as if they'd already been introduced. This was very confusing at first and it made it a little difficult to get into the book. As a rule, I try not to read series out of order, so I didn't appreciate this.While there were aspects of this book that I enjoyed, the interactions between the two MCs just filled me with secondhand embarrassment, they This book is advertized as being a standalone, but I quickly realized it had to be a sequel of sorts, because it referred to a whole cast of characters as if they'd already been introduced. This was very confusing at first and it made it a little difficult to get into the book. As a rule, I try not to read series out of order, so I didn't appreciate this.While there were aspects of this book that I enjoyed, the interactions between the two MCs just filled me with secondhand embarrassment, they felt so forced and awkward. Which is the last thing a romance novel should achieve.And if these were my only problems, this book would still have been an okay read. Not a new favourite, but not a terrible book either. But honestly, I had a slew of other problems, some small, some bigger, and the book was a hot mess.
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  • Bonnie Wells
    January 1, 1970
    the stray cat and dog were the best part of this booki don't even know where to start. first of all, this came with zero indication, until i started it, that this was set in the same world as other books by this author, because it was immediately clear upon the many, many, (so many i could not keep up) family/friends of the main characters we are introduced to that these are characters already met in other books. it didn't make the book unreadable, just the sense of missing out on something and the stray cat and dog were the best part of this booki don't even know where to start. first of all, this came with zero indication, until i started it, that this was set in the same world as other books by this author, because it was immediately clear upon the many, many, (so many i could not keep up) family/friends of the main characters we are introduced to that these are characters already met in other books. it didn't make the book unreadable, just the sense of missing out on something and trouble keeping all the different people straight. i liked the camaraderie, but i was just ready for the book to focus on the main two.and then it did that and i realized i had already read the best part of the book and i did not, in fact, want it to focus on the main two. the characters were one dimensional, the drama was like a really bad lifetime movie, the writing was Not It, and it was all so horridly cheesy. there was no good angst between the characters, their was barely any build up in their romance, the so called "kissing game" was maybe about 5% of the book, and it was just BAD. i don't know why i even finished it quite frankly. i also didn't like how this book took on racism. it took something that is very real and alive and made it into this side "drama" that you can tell was only included to allow the male love interest to beat dudes up and ~fight for his woman. plus the way everything was handled was done almost cartoonishly? that could be said for just about everything in this book, though.basically the first 33% made me think this might be something all right if not what i expected, and the rest just got worse and worse. i had no idea what the time line was through most of it, some parts would contradict others, and over all this was way more like a rough draft than a finished product. don't be fooled by the cute cover and the description. the marketing team is clearly trying to salvage something, but it's complete false advertising.
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  • Crazy for Books (Stephanie)
    January 1, 1970
    After reading the McCauley Brothers and the Donnigans series, I'd been looking forward to Rena and Axel's story. Though it was a little anti climactic, it wasn't terrible. I enjoyed of it what it was, thoug I think it could be better. I definitely understood why Alex did what he did with his family, but still think he was nuts and wasn't thinking about his future children, etc. Though I get why he didn't take it, I think the sacrifice his mother made for him to have it should have been honored. After reading the McCauley Brothers and the Donnigans series, I'd been looking forward to Rena and Axel's story. Though it was a little anti climactic, it wasn't terrible. I enjoyed of it what it was, thoug I think it could be better. I definitely understood why Alex did what he did with his family, but still think he was nuts and wasn't thinking about his future children, etc. Though I get why he didn't take it, I think the sacrifice his mother made for him to have it should have been honored. Just me, but could be because I'm currently self employed with little income coming in. LOL...All that being said, I think the author addressed issues well and with very nice insight and thought. I've read other interracial books which don't address the issues that couples in these perdicaments which don't get addressed. This author did that, and did it well. I do think I should have read at least some of the Body Shop Bad Boys series because I wasn't familiar with Axel's crew that well and I think some of them were in this book. But I got the gist of who they were. Again, I liked it. I just thought it could have had much more oomph. Loved little Collin's relationship with Rena. That was great.
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  • Nour Mazen
    January 1, 1970
    It's been a while since I read a book that portrays family bonds soooo well. I love the fact that this book wasn't just simply a 'romance', and not 100% centered around our two MCs. The secondary characters were amazing, the friendships in here were so enjoyable, the romance itself was so cute.Though my only problem was the whole Valentine's day thing. It was kind of throwing me off a little bit. I just didn't feel it was a necessity in the book and it was just there for the sole purpose of It's been a while since I read a book that portrays family bonds soooo well. I love the fact that this book wasn't just simply a 'romance', and not 100% centered around our two MCs. The secondary characters were amazing, the friendships in here were so enjoyable, the romance itself was so cute.Though my only problem was the whole Valentine's day thing. It was kind of throwing me off a little bit. I just didn't feel it was a necessity in the book and it was just there for the sole purpose of fulfilling Rena's dream of book-inspired love life. I'm not saying it was bad, I just feel like the story could've gone without it. I also would've liked to see more development to Axel and Maksim's bond. Needless to say, I was swooning and fangirling all the way through. (and the touch of German??? I died. Pretty happy because I do understand a bit of German and Axel talking in German WAS JUST WHAT MY HEART DESIRED)*Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange of an honest review
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  • Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Rena Jackson and Axel Heller have been dancing around there attraction for close to a year but during that time Axel lost his beloved mother and Rena has been working to over her own hair salon, but Axel is back and determined to win Rena over. Problem is Rena has decided she wants a man who is in it for the long haul; she wants marriage, babies, and a happily ever after and she doesnt think Axel wants that in his life.Ill admit as one of Ms. Hartes long time readers Ive wanted this story to Rena Jackson and Axel Heller have been dancing around there attraction for close to a year but during that time Axel lost his beloved mother and Rena has been working to over her own hair salon, but Axel is back and determined to win Rena over. Problem is Rena has decided she wants a man who is in it for the long haul; she wants marriage, babies, and a happily ever after and she doesn’t think Axel wants that in his life.I’ll admit as one of Ms. Harte’s long time readers I’ve wanted this story to come to fruition, there was something about the way Axel protected Rena even though they’d never dated that was sweet and it made me wonder about what made him tick knowing he always seemed to be spoiling for a fight. Rena has always been a bit sassy and smart, but in this book she almost came off as entitled in her relationship with Axel. I felt that Axel was doing all the work to make their relationship work and while he seemed to enjoy it even though his choices of woo were a bit off, the relationship seemed a bit one sided. Sure one can argue that Axel was closed off and made it hard for her, but IMHO that shouldn’t have stopped her. That being said as time went on it was evident she cared and worried about him, but I just wanted more for him.There was a bit of a suspense/hate crime angle in this book something that has been brewing for awhile, but it all just felt forced and “off” and I was disappointed that this book that was supposed to be a romance centered around this angle when there were so many other conflicts that could have been tackled such as their family relationships both of which were strained and brought into this already muddled romance.While I was extremely happy to see so many of the characters from Ms. Harte’s other series make an appearance, this also made for a very character full book all of which took time away from showing the main characters grow as the relationship progressed.I was satisfied that Axel and Rena finally got their HEA, however I wanted happier times and less drama.Reviewer’s note and opinion: It really pains me to say, but this book didn’t work for me for several reasons, but I’ll start with the obvious ones. First off I appreciate that publishers have a right to make covers like they want but this cover in NO WAY represents the characters of this story and in NO WAY represents the brand of this author, period. It is a disservice to the author, her brands, and most importantly her readers. The next thing is stating this book as a standalone, it is not. Sure the story is, but if someone picks this book up and hasn’t read Ms. Harte’s series connected to this book, they are going to be a bit lost because there are way too many characters from those series in this book and for someone who has never read them they’re going to be lost with the ins and outs of the friendships, the issues that have been brewing at Ray’s Bar, and even more important the interactions between the hero and heroine in previous books.Review copy provided for a voluntary review.
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  • Thi Winn
    January 1, 1970
    I honestly am having a hard time with my review for this book. While the Kissing Game managed to make me laugh, I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters. They all appeared very one dimensional, and because of that- it essentially fell a bit flat for me. The author also dabbled in POCs and racism. I didn't like how it was written, but I can appreciate the thought the author put in for that. Overall, a super quick steamy romance read.
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  • Mel (Abookishaddiction)
    January 1, 1970
    Didnt get better. This wasnt my favorite and I could have gone without reading it. Didn’t get better. This wasn’t my favorite and I could have gone without reading it.
  • Pelusa Rivera
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the book, however I have a lot of reviews that readers were not happy about the secondary characters, and yes this is written as a standalone however we do have a lot of again the secondary characters were characters of previous book, and since I read those and enjoyed those I liked touching base with them. We have Rena which I remembered here from Donavan's book and was wondering when she would get hers and she finally got. Rena is a romance reader and lover of the genre so she dreams I enjoyed the book, however I have a lot of reviews that readers were not happy about the secondary characters, and yes this is written as a standalone however we do have a lot of again the secondary characters were characters of previous book, and since I read those and enjoyed those I liked touching base with them. We have Rena which I remembered here from Donavan's book and was wondering when she would get hers and she finally got. Rena is a romance reader and lover of the genre so she dreams of her happily ever after, and she finally gets her chance with Axel who has been crushing on her for a while. They are little rough, a little problem with communication but give them a chance..rcvd an ARC at no cost to author..Voluntarily reviewed with my own thoughts and opinions.
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  • Cassidy Steinke
    January 1, 1970
    The writing was so awkward and the characters not likable. I found myself wincing at a lot of the things that came out of Axel's mouth. No thank you.
  • Jasmine
    January 1, 1970
    DNF. Obsessed with Valentines Day?? Mmmm cant relate. DNF. Obsessed with Valentine’s Day?? Mmmm can’t relate.
  • Jinghay (TheSecretNoceur)
    January 1, 1970
    [ I received an arc on Netgalley in return for an honest review.]'The kissing game' is a cute, and fluffy contemporary that follows Rena Jackson and Axel Heller as they navigate their relationship whilst also dealing with issues thrown their way.I really enjoyed seeing Rena and Axel's relationship grow as the book progressed, and I thought they were absolutely perfect for each other. Rena was a really relatable character, and I loved how close she was with her family.The author tries to tackle [ I received an arc on Netgalley in return for an honest review.]'The kissing game' is a cute, and fluffy contemporary that follows Rena Jackson and Axel Heller as they navigate their relationship whilst also dealing with issues thrown their way.I really enjoyed seeing Rena and Axel's relationship grow as the book progressed, and I thought they were absolutely perfect for each other. Rena was a really relatable character, and I loved how close she was with her family.The author tries to tackle many important issues like racism and abuse in this novel, and I felt like they were pretty well done as a whole. However, the sexual tension/references were a little too much for me at times, and I would have preferred if it had been somewhat toned down. There also wasn't much plot to the story which I consider to be really important in a novel. Rating: 3/5
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  • Vanessa (bookscallmyheart)
    January 1, 1970
    If you are looking for an adorable and funny Valentines Day romance, then look no further. {Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the gifted copy}Rena Jackson is a waitress turned hair salon owner that is on the lookout for love. Axel Heller is a rugged German who only has eyes for Rena, but is afraid to make a move. In the weeks leading up to Valentines Day, Rena gives Axel the chance to win her heart. This was a solid rom-com and I loved every minute of it. Honestly, Axel was my If you are looking for an adorable and funny Valentine’s Day romance, then look no further. {Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the gifted copy}Rena Jackson is a waitress turned hair salon owner that is on the lookout for love. Axel Heller is a rugged German who only has eyes for Rena, but is afraid to make a move. In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, Rena gives Axel the chance to win her heart. This was a solid rom-com and I loved every minute of it. Honestly, Axel was my favorite character in the story and was protective, romantic, and absolutely adorable. He might be in the running for my newest book boyfriend. It was the perfect amount of steam, but I wouldn’t say it was over the top! The book had a great balance between some serious topics and funny, witty banter between the characters. My only complaint is that there were so many secondary characters that I had a hard time keeping track of who was who, but I can see the author setting up the book to have other spin-offs books for other characters’ stories.
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  • Sophie (slovenianbookworm)
    January 1, 1970
    I have to admit, I read this book in December, exactly a month ago but wasn't exactly feeling the need to review. So on that note, I must say I don't remember the book that much and apparently I didn't make many notes.Buuuuuut...I do remember two things.One was that the hero was German. I don't know how German turned American do sound but I feel like the portrait of them in this book was very stereotypical. I just felt like the author used ''Ja?'' (Yes?) in every sentence, insinuating this is I have to admit, I read this book in December, exactly a month ago but wasn't exactly feeling the need to review. So on that note, I must say I don't remember the book that much and apparently I didn't make many notes.Buuuuuut...I do remember two things.One was that the hero was German. I don't know how German turned American do sound but I feel like the portrait of them in this book was very stereotypical. I just felt like the author used ''Ja?'' (Yes?) in every sentence, insinuating this is how people from Germany talk. Maybe they do, who knows, I just find it annoying. Like maybe the author wanted to sound the hero German but in turn, she overused this word and make me wish Axel was anything but German. Anytime he said ''Ja?'', I was thinking of some cliché German character.(*I now used the word German six times in the past paragraph, imagine seeing the same word on almost every page.)The second thing was that the heroine's mother had some problems in relationships in the past. One time, after she meets Axel, she was so upset over something and I remember Axel putting her in her lap. I know he is a good guy but this in any context just sound disturbing and wrong. He did it in front of the heroine, by the way and she didn't think much of it. I would understand anyone but the ''mother-in-law''. That... that's just a no-no.After reading some reviews on Goodreads to refresh my memory, I also have to mention Axel's gifts to romance Rena. The thought was cute but some were just so cringe-worthy that I really didn't know where he got them...or why he thought it would be cute. If he looked twice at what he purchased or asked on some advice from his friends I'm sure he would get the right ones since he didn't know how to woo a woman.First read by this author. I expected a lot more from the book but was a little disappointed. Although I'm rating it as 3.5 stars it feels more like 3. It had the potential to be a great book but the author didn't develop some aspects and the result is a mediocre book for me.ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Full post here: https://slovenianbookworm.wordpress.c...
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