Short Take Reviews: Heidi's Guide to Four Letter Words and Top Secret

Tara Sivec & Andi Arndt
Publication date: September 3, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook, 6 hrs 15 min
Source: Audible (provided for review)

Nothing good ever comes from drinking a box of wine alone. So when I decided to entertain my drunken self by setting up some hand-me-down podcasting equipment and reading the steamy parts from romance novels, I never thought anyone would actually listen. The fact that I admitted my huge crush on my sexy next door neighbor made the whole thing even more mortifying. But sometimes life surprises you, and that’s how my podcast, Heidi’s Discount Erotica, was born.

Now I, Heidi Larsen, a sweet former kindergarten teacher in Waconia, Minnesota, lead a scandalous double life reading erotic novels to the listening world. And with each episode, I find myself embracing my new alter ego more and more. Now I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin and do things I never would have dreamed of - like kissing my neighbor.

Look out, Waconia, because Heidi’s on the loose! She’s in your ears, in your hearts, and down your pants...wait, that didn’t sound as good as it did in my head. Well, you get the picture, don’tcha know!

M Y   T H O U G H T S

I have mixed feelings about Heidi's Guide. For the first half of the book I found Heidi (and several other characters) super annoying and downright prissy. Their reactions to anything even remotely risque were so over the top that it was hard to take seriously. (Yes, I know this is a rom-com, with a big focus on the comedy aspect.) But the way they were so completely shocked and offended by romance books that (gasp!) contained sex scenes and dared to include (double gasp!) "dirty words was ridiculous. Was this supposed to be 2019 or 1919? Also, the (over) involvement of Heidi's mother in her life, and Heidi's need to please her mother, bugged me as well. This is supposed to be a mature, self-supporting, independent woman but she often came across as sheltered and juvenile.

The second half of the book was a big improvement. Heidi started making changes and becoming more confident. Her podcasts were a fun part of the story and I enjoyed seeing her loosen up and push her boundaries.  Another highlight was Brent, the sexy next door neighbor. He was 100% of the too-good-to-be-true variety but I didn't care. He was super sweet, patient, and obviously smitten with Heidi. But the true shining star for me was Andi Arndt. She's always been one of my favorite narrators but here she proved just how good she is. She had the ability to take a character that I really wasn't all that wild about and make me find sweet and funny and endearing. Andi brought Heidi to life and infused so much emotion into her narration... big gold star for that! While this type of silly/zany humor really isn't my thing, this was still a fun, light read that was made even better by top-notch narration.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Audible. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
Publication date: May 7, 2019
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Format: Trade Paperback, 272 pgs
Source: Purchased
4.25 STARS
LobsterShorts, 21. Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21. Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries...

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.
LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing...?

M Y   T H O U G H T S

Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy. Actually that should be more like: SARINA BOWEN & ELLE KENNEDY!! These two authors are wonderful apart and sheer magic together. They have an ability to create characters that I never fail to love. That held true for Keaton and Luke - two characters that could not have been more different but I cared for them both and pulled so hard for them. Starting off as fraternity brothers and enemies, their backgrounds were worlds apart but both had private struggles. When they connected on a hook-up app, without knowing one another's true identity, there was a connection and chemistry that took them both by surprise. And when they did learn who the other was? That's when the sparks really flew!

I’m just a guy, standing on a beach in nothing but his favorite pair of lobster shorts, waiting for the right man to love me.
My heart hurt for both of these guys at times. For Keaton - and the pressure he felt from his father. For Luke - because his family kept trying to drag him back down no matter how hard he fought to make his life better. Top Secret was filled with Bowen/Kennedy's signature humor and snarky banter in perfect balance with the more emotional aspect. I adored the dual POV and the ending gave me all the happy feels I was hoping for.



  1. I really like the sounds of Top Secret! Keaton and Luke sound like characters that I would just adore! I am glad to hear that Heidi's Guide to Four Letter Words got better in the second half. There is such a huge waiting list for it at my library. I will have to check for Top Secret now too. Great reviews! I hope you have a good weekend.

    1. I hope you'll love Top Secret if/when you try it! I just adored Keaton and Luke and I flew through their story. I didn't want to stop reading. :)

  2. Heidi's Guide sounds like a fun read, although I think I would also be rolling my eyes at the overly prudish characters at the beginning!

    1. Prudish is a perfect word for them, Angela! It just felt so over the top. I was constantly thinking, "Really?? You're shocked and offended by that??"

  3. Sivec is hit or miss for me. She's in that group of authors, who do the raunchy humor. like Hunting. I really have to be in the mood for it.

    1. I have one or two by Sivec on my Kindle but I think they're both (supposedly) pretty angsty and emotional. I've never read anything by Hunting but I'm not sure she's one for me.

  4. I really enjoyed Top Secret. It was laugh out loud funny but also pretty emotional too.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. Yes, perfect blend of humor and emotional. I love it when an author can strike that perfect (for me) balance.