My May 2024 Reading List: What to Read & What to Skip

In today’s episode of the She Reads Romance Books Podcast, I’m sharing my May 2024 reading list. I’m discussing each romance book that I read this past month and sharing what I really thought of them.

I’ll tell you which romance book I highly recommend you read and which romance book I think you should just skip. This month is full of new and recent releases so tune in to see what I think you should add to your TBR list.

Episode 57: My May 2024 Reading List: What to Read & What to Skip

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Show Notes:

Hey readers!

May has already come and gone…not sure how that happened but it was a great month in life and reading and now we are heading into summer. The school year wrapped up for us and my family. Thank god. It’s nice to have a bit of a reprieve getting up so early and getting the kids out of bed, making sure lunches are made, etc.

I’m still getting up for work but it’s different and I’m ready to have the time to go to the pool or take some day trips with the kids while they still want to or while I can still drag them with me more like it.

I’ll be doing a few podcast interviews here and there and of course meeting up with the She Reads Romance Books Book Club over the course of the next two or three months so I’m excited for those things otherwise we are kind of taking summer as it comes this year.

But back to romance books…today I’m sharing with you the books that I read this past month and what I really thought about them. Did I like them, did I not, do I recommend them? I’m sharing all my thoughts.

I read quite a few new releases but one or two older titles to help you figure out where you should spend your time and money or more importantly where you shouldn’t so let’s dive in.

The first book that I read this past month was one I was anxiously waiting to drop in my Kindle library and that was Teach Me by Neve Wilder which released on May 1.

Teach Me is one of the most anticipated romance books of 2024. See all the new romance books to read in 2024 in the epic list on She Reads Romance Books.

This was one of my most anticipated romance books of 2024 because I am such a fan of her Extracurricular series which consists of some pretty hot MM romance books all set in college.

The first three books have to do with roommates falling for one another and a lot of bi awakening happening but this one is a bit different as it’s a college student unintentionally falling for his new professor.

Cam is one of the heroes. He is a student who fell into drugs his sophomore year so he’s been working really hard to get on solid footing again despite his parents constantly hounding him about his sobriety and their disapproval that he’s into guys.

He’s kept his head down working as a waiter and busting it in class but he’s also missing human contact as his only experimentation with guys was when he was high on drugs those early years in college.

One night he goes to a club and has this really hot meet-up with an anonymous guy who he later discovers is his new professor after putting two and two together. From there they try to put an end to their hook ups to protect the professor’s job but their connection is just too great.

This is a short read in Kindle Unlimited and worth a read if you have a KU subscription and like age gap, teacher student romances. I was surprised that it is probably the least steamy romance in the series.

I was expecting some pretty hot scenes but the most scandalous or hot part of this book is how they first meet up which I won’t divulge because I don’t want to spoil it. It’s an interesting hook but after that it was just a typical teacher student romance. Not that that’s bad but it wasn’t unique or out of the ordinary. I gave it 3 stars.

The next book I read was The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren.

The Paradise Problem is one of the new romance book releases coming May 2024. See all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books.

This is a marriage of convenience romance where Anna Green, a struggling artist, discovers she’s still married to Liam Weston, a professor and son of a billionaire, who she married in college for access to subsidized family housing.

Liam or West as he’s called reaches out to Anna three years later and tells her they are still married and asks if she’d go to this private island in Singapore for his sister’s wedding and pretend to be his wife so that he can eventually inherit his 100 million dollar inheritance.

I’m such a big fan of Christina Lauren so it’s pretty much a no-brainer that I will read whatever new release they come out with next which is why this book made my list of most anticipated new romance book releases of 2024.

While this book showcases their amazing writing chops, I gave it a 3 star rating only because I felt like it could have been more. Maybe I shouldn’t dock stars for that reason but let me explain.

It’s always fun to read a summer romance that whisks you away to an exotic location and that is exactly what this one does. I’ve never been to Singapore but I wouldn’t mind spending a week at a private island in a bungalow by the beach. Sounds amazing and a place to be for the rich and famous. But at the same time the setting of this book could have been any private island on any beach as they didn’t pull in much culture at all. That’s not a big deal but a missed opportunity perhaps?

I also love that Christina Lauren’s books are always so unique. Whenever I pick up their books I know I’m in for a unique storyline with new, interesting characters to meet. This book explores the toxicity of money and power and how it can corrupt a family. It’s also about a narcissistic which Liam’s father clearly is and who is portrayed as such.

I thought this was the best part of the book honestly – how money corrupts family. And yet, there wasn’t much depth to this plotline from what you learn at the beginning. You know they have to put on a front that they are married to get his inheritance and that’s pretty much it until the last chapter or two.

As for the marriage of convenience story, I was kind of expecting at least some build up to their chemistry or tension from when they are first married (which I thought we’d get given the book summary) but it just glossed over this time period completely and they only spend 9 or 10 days in Singapore for them to fall madly in love. Guess I could buy it but not really.

So, while I liked the premise of this book and other qualities, I didn’t rate it higher because it was hard not to compare it to other new releases of this year that blew me away. You can read my full book review of The Paradise Problem because I compare this book with my feelings toward Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez. And why I rated that book 5 stars but this one only 3. All of this is to say, am I glad I read it? Yes. Do I recommend it? If you’re a Christina Lauren fan, yes, but I just expected more.

The next book that I read was Swift and Saddled by Lyla Sage which is a sweet cowboy romance, and book two in the rebel Blue ranch series.

Swift and Saddled is one of the most anticipated new romance book releases coming March 2024.

I actually stopped reading the first book in the series as I wasn’t jiving with it but I enjoyed this one and look forward to continuing the series.

Ada Hart is hired on for a renovation at Rebel Blue ranch in hopes of making a real name for herself with her design business. The night before she’s to get started she ends up in a dive bar looking for food and connects with a handsome stranger who she ends up making out with pretty hot and heavy in the hallway until they are interrupted.

The next morning, she comes face to face with the stranger, who is Weston Ryder, her new boss and owner of the property she’s working on. This sets up a fun, forced proximity romance where the sweet cowboy pursues the city girl that he can’t get enough of.

I thought Weston was a sweet hero who had some good mental health rep as he isn’t shy about disclosing his depression – not that it really made an appearance in the story but was just a characterization point for him.

I liked that he didn’t force Ada into anything or make her meet his timetable. He just supported her whole heartedly and it was the best. I think I rated this book a three too because it was an overall good read but not one that I’ve really thought about since.

I’ve been in a Julie Anne Long kind of mood lately and I really like her audiobooks so I decided to do a reread or listen to one of my favorite historical romance novels of all time next and that is What I Did for a Duke, and I fell in love with it all over again.

What I Did for a Duke is one of the best romance novels of all time.

I loved the initial setup of the story where Moncrieffe, the Duke of Falconbridge, catches Ian Eversee in bed with his fiancé. The rest of the book he holds the prospect of enacting some form of revenge over Ian’s head, keeping the man on edge and unsettled and I loved that powerplay so much.

Alex’s initial plan at revenge is to attend a house party the Eversee house and seduce Ian’s younger sister Genevieve but after meeting Genevieve his plans soon change.

I loved the love triangle aspect to this story. Poor Genevieve is distraught when her friend and crush Harry tells her that he’s going to propose to her friend. She’s heartbroken and that’s how Alex comes to find and meet her and the two end up having these amazing run-ins and conversations during his stay that let them be real with one another and obviously spark an attraction.

The way they used art as innuendo and the way they identified with Venus and Mars were these perfect inside connections that lit this beautiful slow burn between the two. Their clandestine meetings at night where Alex showed Genevieve what it meant to feel pleasure were hot and definitely not something Harry would ever live up to.

How they both ended up professing their love (and Moncrieffe’s sacrifice) was just epic.

This reread just reaffirmed that whenever you are presented with a choice between the Harrys and the Alexes of the world- always choose Alex.

I totally jumped on the bandwagon with my next book since I got a copy through my local library and that is How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang.

How to End a Love Story is one of the new romance book releases coming January 2024. See all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books.

And I say bandwagon because this was May’s book selection for the Reese Book Club so it’s getting a lot of attention. Here’s what it is about in case you’re not familiar as it recently just released:

Helen Zhang hasn’t seen Grant Shepard once in the thirteen years since the tragic accident that bound their lives together forever.

Now a bestselling author, Helen pours everything into her career. She’s even scored a coveted spot in the writers’ room of the TV adaptation of her popular young adult novels, and if she can hide her imposter syndrome and overcome her writer’s block, surely the rest of her life will fall into place too. LA is the fresh start she needs. After all, no one knows her there. Except…

Grant has done everything in his power to move on from the past, including building a life across the country. And while the panic attacks have never quite gone away, he’s well liked around town as a screenwriter. He knows he shouldn’t have taken the job on Helen’s show, but it will open doors to developing his own projects that he just can’t pass up.

Grant’s exactly as Helen remembers him—charming, funny, popular, and lovable in ways that she’s never been. And Helen’s exactly as Grant remembers too—brilliant, beautiful, closed off. But working together is messy, and electrifying, and Helen’s parents, who have never forgiven Grant, have no idea he’s in the picture at all.

When secrets come to light, they must reckon with the fact that theirs was never meant to be any kind of love story. And yet… the key to making peace with their past—and themselves—might just lie in holding on to each other in the present.

What to say about this book….I went back and forth from 3 to 4 stars for this one. Probably because when I went back to write a review or my thoughts on it I was a bit blank and had to really think back on it and that’s always an indication of something to me.

I am glad that I read it but had I not been in the right headspace for it I’m not sure I would have enjoyed reading it given the subject matter.

I applaud Kuang for writing a romance with an underlying theme of suicide but I don’t think this book will appeal to everyone. Though I have no frame of reference for it I think Yulin approached this hard subject matter well, though I think Grant’s struggle was dismissed for a majority of the book. What came of his panic attacks?

The forbidden aspect of these two falling for each other was a bit taboo – her falling for the guy who was driving the car that killed her sister – and it did keep me turning the pages.

I’ll admit the third person POV got a bit confusing at times because I wasn’t sure in whose head I was at certain times or the shifts happened abruptly.

Helen was an interesting character. I actually loved how we came to know her true feelings about her sister’s act and that Yulin wasn’t afraid to have her be mad at her sister. But her turnaround with Grant seemed a bit off – all of a sudden she was all about getting it on with him which just felt like a bit strange to me given her characterization from the beginning.

I also understood that they needed space at times once they got together but it felt forced and maybe a bit controlling from Helen but I guess that was the point because Grant admitted that he would take whatever he could get from her.

I did enjoy the screenwriting aspect since that is the world Yulin comes from. It was cool “being in the room” as it were and seeing Grant actually thrive somewhere.

Overall I think this is a solid debut novel. An interesting choice of subject matter for a debut so I wouldn’t call this a romcom and readers should definitely take note of the trigger warnings because it’s heavy and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea nor a light read for summer.

But, I’m glad I read it and look forward to checking out more from this author.

My next read was another book I had been anxiously waiting for and that is Truth or Wolf by Anne Walsh which is Walsh’s paranormal reimagining of the first book in Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series, Truth or Beard.

Truth or Wolf is one of the new romance book releases coming May 2024. See all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books.

It is a werewolf, small-town romance between the heroine Alice and hero Ford.

When hardworking citizen scientist Alice Aymes reluctantly returns to Green Valley to restart her stalled life, she plans to save up the money she needs to escape to Nashville and open her pet shop.

She does not intend to inadvertently kiss Ford Boone, thinking he was his twin brother and her secret crush Atticus boone because Alice hates Ford, and he’s always hated her right back. But the two are drawn to each other and Ford asks to court her so why not have a relationship until she flees for nashville?

I think I started my review of Neanderthal Seeks Duchess by Laney Hatcher which is the first historical reimagining of her Knitting in the City series, the same way in saying that Penny Reid is a genius. But if Penny is a genius then Anne Marsh is amazing.

When Penny asked if readers would be interested in her Pennyverse worlds turning paranormal I gave a big hell YES! Marsh has taken up that mantle and is reimaging Reid’s popular Winston Brothers series, starting with Truth or Wolf, and if this book is setting the tone of what’s to come then I’m so on board and excited.

All the parts of the Winston Brothers series that I loved (the bearded brothers, the small town shenanigans, and the epic love stories) are expertly woven into this romance where the bearded brothers just happen to be werewolves.

As the first book in the series there is some world-building to establish but it didn’t overpower Alice and Ford’s central love story. I actually wish we got a bit more of Ford as a werewolf since that is the big change of this series and one of my knocks on the books so I’m hoping that we get more of the boys in their wolf form in the subsequent books.

Otherwise, I felt like this book was a reimagining that stuck pretty close to the original story with just a different spin. I enjoyed that aspect though I think I was able to accept Alice and Ford’s instalove because I already envisioned them as a couple having read Truth or Wolf. It might be hard to get with the program as a new reader as there isn’t a lot of history shared (it’s just assumed) to build on that connection but I just went with it.

I felt like this ended on a bit of a happily for now as the main issue of their courtship was finally discussed and a solution found but not acted upon. But given that I’d say that If you loved Reid’s Winston Brothers series, I think this is a new way to enjoy it again in just a different light which is exciting. I look forward to reading book two!

My next book I was also able to snag at the library so I bumped it up my list and that is This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune.

This Summer Will Be Different is one of the new romance book releases coming May 2024. See all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books.

This book is on my must-read summer romance book list and absolutely deserves to be because it’s the perfect summer beach read. I’ve mentioned it in that episode but the quick synopsis is that Lucy, the heroine, travels to Prince Edward Island one summer to spend time with her best friend Bridget only Bridget missed her flight so Lucy arrives before her and has this instant connection with a local who she has a one-night stand with.

Only in the morning she realizes that Felix, Mr. one night stand, is Bridget’s younger brother – the brother she was sworn to not fall in love with. Lucy ends up returning to PEI with Bridget many summers after until the current summer when Bridget disappears to PEI just a week before her wedding and Lucy follows her there running into Felix yet again.

So Carley Fortune’s books have been popular summer romance books for the past two years and I get it now. I honestly didn’t finish her first book because I wasn’t in a cheating romance kind of mood and I haven’t yet read Meet Me at the Lake because I’m not in the mood for that topic either but I am now sold.

This Summer Will Be Different also made my list of most anticipated romance books of 2024 simply for the fact that the setting was Prince Edward Island because if you didn’t hear me say it in that episode or my summer romance episode I’m a bit obsessed with the island and it’s on my bucket list to go there.

But this book surpassed my expectations and is a fantastic, sweet and swoony best friend’s brother romance that is the perfect beach read for the summer.

I joked in my review that Canada should be sending Fortune ALL the gifts because their tourism rates are going to skyrocket with people clamoring to Prince Edward Island after reading this book.

I was looking at Airbnb’s and places to stay on PEI before I even finished it thinking…can I swing a trip this summer or do I have to wait until next year because it’s definitely moved up the list after reading this book.

Fortune makes you feel like you’re a native on the island from the oyster-sucking contests, to the beach walks, the lighthouse tours and of course the Anne of Green Gables sites.

But while I loved the brilliant setting of this story, I also truly loved the friendship between Bridge and Bee. I myself have a best friend who I consider more like a sister and to come to understand the bond between these two was so wonderful.

Fortune completely hooks you from the beginning with Bridget’s sudden escape to PEI before her wedding and I found myself constantly guessing the reason behind it and needing to read on to finally get to that point when the impetus is revealed.

Of course I also loved the central, forbidden love story between Felix and Lucy. Their first meet cute was HOT (though very closed door) and it set the stage to understanding their instant chemistry that would ignite each summer or time they found themselves together again on the island.

Again, I found myself just wanting to speed read to get to the point where I could understand why are they not trying to make this work for real? It gave me similar angsty but in a good-way vibes as reading People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry- just trying to get to that moment when you understood all that was holding each character back.

From the setting to the story pacing to the characters and overall story arc I thought this book was a wonderful read and definitely a must-read book of the summer. It’s claimed a spot on my list of best romance books of 2024 and one I highly recommend.

Now the next book I read this month, or I should say attempted to read, was Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan.

Lies and Weddings is one of the new romance book releases coming May 2024. See all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books.

Now this review pains me to even mention because this book was on my most anticipated new romance books of 2024 list AND my most anticipated books for summer 2024 because I thought the set up and setting of this book was magnificent.

This was my first Kevin Kwan romance and I was eager to dive in but I stopped reading at about 30% through it. By this point I should be invested in the main characters and have an idea of where the love story is going but unfortunately I don’t feel either.

The only character that I feel like I’ve come to know is the mother and she’s awful. She’s meant to be awful, I understand, but I don’t care about either main character.

Rufus, the hero, has been mostly absent and there is no connection between him and Eden, the heroine, at all at this point. To me the whole point of the story so far is the sister’s wedding which is fine but you have to set a foundation for the romance and it’s just not there at all.

I would probably continue reading it if I didn’t find the writing very hard to follow. While I think the setting is unique and a huge part of the story, the description is just too much at times and drowns out the storyline. Plus, he has all these asterisks with all these “extra” bits of info that I found distracting and not entertaining.

I’m sure the best part of the book is to come or at least I hope it is and I do think if you love descriptive writing and cool locations and opulence you might like it but I don’t think his style of writing is for me so it went into my DNF pile. Bummmmerrrrr.

The last two books I read this month were rereads of two books for book club. The first was Nine Month Contract by Amy Daws which was our May 2024 pick.

Nine Month Contract by Amy Daws is the May 2024 selection for the She Reads Romance Books Book Club.

I loved it even more the second go around. I also reread The Air He Breathes by Brittany Cherry which if you have not yet heard is our June 2024 book club selection.

The Air He Breathes by Brittainy Cherry is the She Reads Romance Books Book Club selection for June 2024.

I’m so excited to talk about this book and with Brittany in June. I read it to get our discussion guide ready for the start of June and I’m sure I’ll reread it again at the end of the month just before our meeting so everything is super fresh.

It is available to read in Kindle Unlimited if you have a subscription but it’s also now available as a paperback in bookstores so you may be able to find it at your local indie bookstore or Barnes and Noble.

It’s a change up from the romcom Nine Month Contract so have some tissues next to you while reading it but it kicks off Cherry’s Elements series which is fabulous. You can join the Book Club and discuss this book with us and with Cherry.

The Air He Breathes is also going to have to count for my May Romance Book Reading Challenge selection which was to read either a romantic suspense book or a book by an author of color.

I didn’t get to fit in a romantic suspense and Cherry’s latest release, The Problem with Players, which I had planned to read for the challenge didn’t release until mid-month and I didn’t get a chance to dive into it yet but I am going to hopefully this month!

The Problem with Players is one of the new romance book releases coming May 2024. See all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books.

So that’s my month of reading folks! I’d love to also hear what YOU are reading. If you are not yet a member of my Facebook group, the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge then jump on in as we like to talk about the books we are reading and loving each week as well as the book boyfriends we are falling for.

As for what I’m going to be reading this month…for the Romance Book Reading Challenge in June the prompt is to read one Sports Romance or to simply Choose a Book by its Cover. That’s definitely an easy prompt but as for sports romance…hmmm. I have to think one that one for a bit.

For choose a book by its cover…I’m finally diving into my advanced copy of Ali Hazelwood’s Not in Love.

Not in Love is one of the most anticipated June 2024 new romance book releases. Check out all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books!

I absolutely love this cover from the image and the colors used. It’s beautiful and I cannot wait to dive into the story especially since she’s calling it an erotic romance so I’ve super intrigued. I’ll report back on this in my June 2024 reading list episode.

I’m also going to read Curvy Girl Summer by Danielle Allen.

Curvy Girl Summer is one of the most anticipated June 2024 new romance book releases. Check out all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books!

You can catch my podcast episode with Danielle about this book and her writing which is out now so don’t miss it! Lastly, I’m going to try to read The Graham Effect by Elle Kennedy. It’s in Kindle Unlimited and Karen in Book Club totally convinced me that I need to get on this series so I’m doing it Karen! Thank you for the push and recommendation.

The Graham Effect is one of the new romance book releases coming October 2023. See all that's new in romance on She Reads Romance Books.

I hope your TBR list is overflowing my friends and that you have a fantastic reading month ahead. Thanks so much for tuning in and happy reading…because life is better with a love story!

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Check out She Reads Romance Books entire May 2024 reading list to see which romance books she recommends you read and which romance books you should just skip.
Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

Why Trust She Reads Romance Books?

Leslie is the founder, writer, and producer of She Reads Romance Books (and the She Reads Romance Books Podcast), an online book community focused on romance books and the readers who love them because life is better with a love story.

Leslie reads 150 romance books a year and has been called a "book expert" by CNN. Reading romance is her passion and she cultivates her book lists with the best books worth reading in the genre. Leslie graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College where she honed her writing skills and also holds two Master's degrees. Join her community in the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge.

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2 thoughts on “My May 2024 Reading List: What to Read & What to Skip”

  1. Leslie, I would really LOVE if you would sell the journal in ebook. I love your blog and podcast and want to have it, but the import taxes to Brazil are more expensive than the journal itself. If you had The ebook I would be happy to buy it and support your awesome work.

    Reply
    • Hi Vitoria! Shoot me an email as I can send you a link for the printable version!

      Reply

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