Publication date: July 2020
Kindle Unlimited: Yes
Y'all said you wanted romances with sweet, heartwarming Hallmark plots and Outlander/Bridgerton sex scenes, right? Well...here you go:
I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of heartwarming romances. I'm talking about low-angst, super sweet romances that DO NOT feature alphaholes, bullies, or reverse harems. (No offense to reverse harem reads or readers. It's just not my jam.) But the problem I find with the super heartwarming reads is a lack of sex. The Hearts Of Stone series fulfills my need for sweet romance, but also offers dirty, hot sex scenes that almost make you feel like an intruder while reading them because they're so intimate. That's a rare find in Romancelandia, y'all.
Plot overview: There are 6 short novellas in this series. Each book features a different Stone brother finding his happily ever after. There's a different popular trope for every book.
Trope bingo: As I said, each book features a different trope, but in this series you'll find: boss/employee romance, billionaire romance, one night stand, secret baby, friends to lovers, virgin hero, accidental pregnancy, second chance romance, and small town enemies to lovers.
While each novella is very different in terms of tropes, there are a few things that are universal to all books:
The characters all have a very natural, fun, flirty banter. I'm a connoisseur of banter in romance novels, and what you'll find in this series is top notch. No stilted dialogue here. (I loathe stilted dialogue)
Nice guy heroes
The heroes are all insanely good looking, fit, and smart (as is law in Romancelandia), but they are also nice guys who treat the heroines with nothing but respect. That's something that I can't stress enough. There are so many alphaholes in romance that I usually have to specially go out looking for nice guy heroes, and I'm always surprised when I find them. Sure, even I will admit that there are some fuckable alphaholes out there. But the men in this series are fuckable AND the type of guys you'd want to marry. (No one would really want to married to an alphahole. That'd be EXHAUSTING.)
The heroines in this series are never TSTL (too stupid to live). They're hardworking, successful, and independent. I'm glad, too. The heroes are so awesome that they definitely deserve heroines like these.
Now, I will warn you that if you are an instalove hater, you might take issue with a few of these novellas. I never used to tolerate instalove, but here's why I've changed my mind about it lately, and why I'm willing to cut this series some slack:
1. They're novellas. The short nature of the stories doesn't allow for the characters to get to know each other over the course of years and years just to satisfy the "but real love doesn't happen that fast" crowd.
2. Things are awful in the world right now. What better escapism can we find than sweet, safe stories about people who meet their soul mates and know instantly that they're in love?
3. I'm past the point in my life where I care that something I'm reading isn't "realistic". Since when is realism is the bar that we judge fiction against? I mean, I like to read sci fi and zombie novels occasionally, and no one ever bleats about how unrealistic those books are. So to pick on romance because some element seems "unrealistic" is shitty. And misogynistic, too, frankly, since most romance is written by women and the audience is predominantly female.
4. It's OK to enjoy fantasy. And the idea of meeting someone and instantly knowing that you belong with them is a fantasy.
*steps down off instalove soapbox*
Now, I did take a half point off the total rating because of the one book that had the secret baby trope. I loathe that trope with the fire of a thousand suns. But even I, an intense hater of secret baby romance, can admit that the author did a good job with this one. I normally feel like there's no reason for a mother to keep a baby secret from the father (unless the father is a dangerous, abusive asshole or something). But in this case, I was able to grudgingly understand the mother's motives, so I let it slide. (Except for that half point, which speaks to my overall displeasure with the trope in general. What can I say? I'm petty like that.)
All that said, if you're looking for a warm, sweet comfort read that also happens to include hot, dirty sex, this series is well worth your time.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
No rehab needed. This one is clean and sober.