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Artemis Gordon

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  1. January is coming to an end already. And then it’s time for the worst month of the year! At least for New England. There’s just something about the winter in February that just…sucks. In continuing with my theme of giving things I can look forward to each month, February will be finishing my tattoo! I’ll be getting the color and shading done and I’m so stoked to see what the artist has planned. Then in March (fingers crossed), I’m going to Germany to visit my brother. I haven’t seen him in three-ish years. If any of the European Bitchery has suggestions, I’ll be there for two weeks and will have plenty of time to bop around to other places. Enough about me, let’s get into it! … I love listening to stuff when I go to sleep. Normally, it’s Twitch streams, but I do love a sleep-focused podcast. (Shoutout to Sleep with Me). I recently discovered this one: Sleepy Bookshelf, which has a lovely narrator read classics to you as you fall asleep. They’re on Anne of Green Gables now. … Look at this adorable interaction between author Kate DiCamillo and a young reader: … Don’t forget to share what cool or interesting things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way! View the full article
  2. The Highland Fling The Highland Fling by Meghan Quinn is $1.99 at Amazon! This is a contemporary romance with a grumpy Scottish hero. I’ve always been curious about Quinn’s contemporary romances. Would you recommend them? In this steamy tale by USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn, an American searching for her purpose escapes to a Scottish town but finds more questions than answers when she meets a brooding yet handsome handyman. Freshly fired from her third job in a row, Bonnie St. James has lost her way. So when she and her best friend stumble upon a “help wanted” post to run a coffee shop in the Scottish Highlands, they apply on a whim. Who knows? Maybe traveling to a new place is just what she needs to figure out her next move. When the friends arrive in the tiny idyllic town of Corsekelly, they instantly fall for the gorgeous Highland landscape and friendly townspeople. But Bonnie finds a less-than-warm welcome in Rowan MacGregor, the rugged local handyman. Busy wrestling his own demons, Rowan’s in no mood to deal with the quirky American—even if she is a bonny lass. As Bonnie and Rowan’s paths inevitably cross, insults—and sparks—fly. Can the pair build on their similarities to help each other find purpose and direction…and maybe romance too? Or will their passionate tempers fling them apart? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Migrations RECOMMENDED: Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy is $2.99! I’ve mentioned this one a couple times in a Hide Your Wallet and Get Rec’d post. This is climate fiction (fiction where a climate crisis is central to the story) and it’s just a bittersweet, character-driven book. For readers of Station Eleven and Flight Behavior, a debut novel set on the brink of catastrophe, as a young woman chases the world’s last birds – and her own final chance for redemption. A dark past. An impossible journey. The will to survive. Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she so loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his salty, eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish. As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that the beguiling scientist in their midst is not who she seems. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of letters to her husband, and dead set on following the terns at any cost, Franny is full of dark secrets. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from. Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Migrations is a shatteringly beautiful ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened. But at its heart, it is about the lengths we will go, to the very edges of the world, for the people we love. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Simple Wild The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker is $1.99! I feel like Tucker is one of those authors that I’ve heard a lot of or has a large fan base, yet I know nothing about it. The covers give me young, white Christian Instagram vibes, if you know what I mean. City girl Calla Fletcher attempts to reconnect with her estranged father, and unwittingly finds herself torn between her desire to return to the bustle of Toronto and a budding relationship with a rugged Alaskan pilot in this masterful new romance from acclaimed author K.A. Tucker. Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born. She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild. Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Ladies of the Secret Circus The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is $2.99! This is a stand alone novel that seems to have two different timelines: 1920s Paris and early 2000s Virginia. There are also some magical elements. Paris, 1925: To enter the Secret Circus is to enter a world of wonder-a world where women tame magnificent beasts, carousels take you back in time, and trapeze artists float across the sky. But each daring feat has a cost. Bound to her family’s strange and magical circus, it’s the only world Cecile Cabot knows-until she meets a charismatic young painter and embarks on a passionate love affair that could cost her everything. Virginia, 2005: Lara Barnes is on top of the world-until her fiancé disappears on their wedding day. Desperate, her search for answers unexpectedly leads to her great-grandmother’s journals and sweeps her into the story of a dark circus and a generational curse that has been claiming payment from the women in her family for generations. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  3. There was no Bachelor last week due to sportsball, but the weirdness is back tonight and Pudding and I are ready. Well, I am anyway. Pudding is currently having an intense meeting with her stuffed animals, possibly warning them that they better be here for the right reasons. Last week Cassidy revealed she had someone she was hooking up with before she went on the show and that she went on the show to make him jealous, all of which Sierra relayed to Clayton. Clayton asks Jesse if it’s possible to rescind Cassidy’s rose. THERE ARE NO RULES HERE CLAYTON. Then Jesse says, “There are no rules.” I TOLD YOU SO. Clayton asks to talk to Cassidy. She denies seeing someone prior to the show and she says, “Clayton, I have not spoken to any guy that I have any interest in a relationship with for a very long time.” Girl, you were on camera admitting that you were seeing someone. Do these people not realize they’re being recorded? Come on, people Then when he confronts her again, she’s like, well, yeah I had this guy I was friends with but he doesn’t want a relationship and he’s cool with me being on the show, and Clayton stands up and storms out. Cassidy starts to cry and says, “I can’t believe this is happening. I didn’t do anything!” So then they sit down again and Cassidy apologizes if the situation “confuses” him and says they have a genuine connection and then, in the worst most awkward moment, leans over and kisses him while he’s trying to talk and is not receptive to it. Clayton says he has “too many concerns.” Cassidy asks if she’s sending her home, then melts down in tears. “I haven’t even packed my stuff. I didn’t think I was going home tonight,” she complains. Clayton walks her out and says, “This is not at all what I expected to do tonight and it hurts.” In the limo of tears Cassidy sobs, “Why does this keep happening?” How many reality dating shows have you been eliminated from? Then it’s FINALLY time for the Dreaded Rose Ceremony. Ency, Kate and Tessa go home. Then it’s time for the first group date. The women follow Clayton into a dark auditorium where Kaitlin Bristowe is waiting. She says that she’s going to help Clayton get to know the women better. She’s going to read a statement out loud and if it resonates with the women they need to stand up. This sounds like some corporate icebreaker shit, and I’m recoiling already. The phrases are like “Stand up if there are parts of yourself you aren’t proud of.” Then it’s time for sharing and it’s all incredibly cringey. I’m just going to shotgun a Whiteclaw during this part. Click for me really soon Clayton opens up about having issues with his body image growing up and how he would diet and lose weight. All of the women talk about body image issues as well, some of them severe enough that I would classify them as dysmorphia, which makes me think about them coming on this show for some kind of validation, and how all the women have the same body type, and then I just went on a depressive spiral. The date rose goes to Eliza. Then it’s time for a one-on-one date with Sarah. Former Bachelorette Becca Kufrin is there for some reason. They’re doing an extreme scavenger hunt all around downtown LA in their underwear, supposedly to push them out of their comfort zones. Didn’t we just have a long conversation about negative body image being a struggle for everyone? This show is fucked up. Back at the McMansion the ladies are lounging by the pool and Elizabeth cooks up some garlic butter shrimp for everyone. Shanae takes half the shrimp and the other women get annoyed. Okay, but Elizabeth made like 15 shrimp for 15 women so maybe plan better? So then Shanae makes more shrimp which seems like a normal and nice thing to do, and no one will eat it. These people are making me So Tired. During the dinner they aren’t allowed to eat, Sarah talks about being mixed race and adopted by a White family. She says she felt shame about being adopted because she felt unwanted by her birth parents. She gets the date rose and they dance awkwardly in front of a string quartet. The next day it’s a group date on the beach with Baywatch’s Nicole Eggert. The women have to wear the iconic red swimsuit and Eggert puts them through lifeguard training. Clayton has quite the farmer’s tan going on. They have to practice the slow-mo beach run, and then Shanae follows it up by making out with Clayton. Gabby wins the group date and Shanae is mad about it. During the cocktail party Shanae tells Clayton that Elizabeth is bullying her. She says, “It’s hard because sometimes I don’t want to be here because it’s like am I going to be yelled at or victimized?” She cries and they make out. Then she tells the camera that “I’ve got him” and “I was good. Holy shit was I good” and “I didn’t mean to cry, but I cried.” Clayton brings the bullying allegations up to Elizabeth. She tells him if he talks to anyone else, they’ll confirm she’s not a bully. She starts to cry. WHY IS EVERYONE CRYING ALL THE TIME. Then Lindsey W comes back from her conversation with Clayton in tears because Shanae accused her of bullying too. Me again Then Shanae and the other women yell over each other for awhile. why? Clayton gives the date rose to Gabby. Then Clayton says he’ll address the bullying allegations tomorrow during the rose ceremony. And that’s it. Are you watching? View the full article
  4. B- The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu November 2, 2021 · Avon Contemporary RomanceNew AdultRomance Content warningThis is very much a story about the ways your family can hurt you while having the very best intentions in the world. If this is also your story, you might find it hard going. I certainly did. The Donut Trap is a New Adult romance with strong coming of age themes. Jasmine’s parents sacrificed and suffered so that their children would have better lives, but at times, Jasmine feels like she and her brother are the sacrifices. They feel bowed down under a weight of expectation and obligation, and the result is that they both resort to hiding important parts of their lives from their parents. A year or so after finishing college, Jasmine is back living at home with her parents, working from 6am to 10pm in her parents’ donut shop, while hunting for a ‘real’ job, and maybe even a boyfriend – though both more in theory than in practice. Working such long hours, there really is hardly room in her life for anything else… but her hours also form a handy excuse to avoid thinking about difficult things, or socialising with her friends from school and college, who are moving on with their lives and careers in a way that Jasmine feels she is not. And then Alex, the boy she had a crush on in college, turns up at the donut shop. And he is just as handsome as ever, as well as being charming and clearly very interested in getting to know her better… The Donut Trap does a first-rate job of depicting difficult family dynamics, particularly in the context of the immigrant experience. Indeed, it did this so well that I was almost unable to keep reading it. The weight of pressure and obligation and shame, the feeling of being trapped in a cycle with no way out, and also just the grueling amount of work Jasmine does in the shop were so intense that I found myself getting really stressed and anxious just reading about it (it didn’t help that the story was first person and from Jasmine’s viewpoint – the reader is really immersed in her troubles). How can you possibly complain about your own little stresses and anxieties when your parents literally fled the country they were born to escape the Khmer Rouge? Jasmine is caught in a trap where she can neither live up to her family’s expectations, nor escape them, nor even express her feelings about them honestly. One thing that really bothered me was that her best friend, Linh, kept on telling her that she should just talk to her parents, they only wanted what was best for her, and while this was maybe technically true, there is no ‘just’ about it. What Jasmine’s parents thought was best for her seemed to have been decided without any consultation with Jasmine as to what she actually wanted. Much of the book was a masterclass in what happens if you love someone but fail to listen to them. Or when one generation thinks of love as being about pushing their children to be as good as they can be, as a matter of survival, while the other experiences this as never being good enough to deserve love. It is very emotionally destructive. Basically, this was a brilliant piece of emotionally truthful writing and I found it an absolute horror to read. I will add that the family situation does have a happy and satisfactory resolution, but it takes a long time to get there. I realise that I have dived straight into the family dynamics of this book without mentioning the romance, but this is because it seemed to me that they were the emotional core of the story. The romance with Alex, while sweet, felt distinctly secondary. But let’s talk about it anyway because this is a romance novel blog, and also, it was definitely the more enjoyable half of the book! With the story being told from Jasmine’s point of view, we never get to see quite what Alex is thinking – for the first part of the story, he could almost be a fantasy come to life: the boy she had a secret crush on in college also had a secret crush on her! And now he has reappeared in her life and he still thinks she is cute, even when she is eating Korean Barbecue and wearing grubby work clothes and not flirting because actually she is kind of grumpy at being surprised by her best friend and dragged out for lunch with a cute guy when she isn’t in the mood! And he even speaks Mandarin and knows how to impress her parents! I enjoyed their awkward flirting via text and social media, and the way Alex really thought about what Jasmine might like when planning their first date. I also really liked the fact that the suave and charming Alex is not without his own family dramas, which render him just as awkward and off balance as Jasmine’s do her. And I appreciated that they were both pretty good at using their words when it counted. This is a closed door romance, so the on-page sexual content was limited to kisses, hand-holding, and a lot of appreciation for Alex’s abs, but the story did a good job of making these very sensual. One thing I enjoyed a bit less was the low-key love triangle that developed at one point in the book. I could see why it worked thematically, with the things both Alex and Jasmine told and hid from their families in their romantic relationships, but I really could have done without it. Also, I am contractually obliged to comment on the food porn levels in this book, which were strangely lacking in the early chapters, but picked up nicely when Jasmine started experimenting with new icing flavours about a third of the way into the book. And now I want donuts. (UNRELATED BUT IMPORTANT FACT: My husband just brought donuts home from the bakery! How did he know?) The Donut Trap is hard for me to grade fairly, because it pressed a few too many of my buttons. If you like somewhat angsty coming of age stories that speak to the immigrant experience, I think you will enjoy this. But if you’ve just come out of one of those holiday seasons that makes you feel grateful that Christmas comes but once a year, you might want to wait a few months before you read this story, or maybe skip it entirely. It’s a little too good at what it does. I think the writing is brilliant, but I had a miserable time reading it, and I don’t think I can grade it higher than a B minus when it made me so unhappy. I suspect it is going to be an amazing, affirming book for another reader out there, and I hope they find it! View the full article
  5. Not the Kind of Earl You Marry Not the Kind of Earl You Marry by Kate Pembrooke is $1.99! I mentioned this on a Hide Your Wallet over the summer and it’s the first in a series. Did any of you pick this one up? Fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton series will adore this stunning historical romance debut, where a wary wallflower enters a fake engagement with one of London’s most eligible bachelors. The one woman in London who doesn’t want to marry him is now his fiancée. William Atherton, Earl of Norwood, is as shocked as the rest of London to discover his betrothal via an announcement in the morning paper. Furious at what appears to be a shrewd marriage trap, William tracks down his alleged fiancée before her plans can affect his campaign for a coveted political post. But then William realizes an engagement, however fake, may benefit them both… Miss Charlotte Hurst may be a wallflower, but she’s no shrinking violet. She would never attempt such an underhanded scheme, especially not with a man as haughty or sought-after as Norwood. Yet his suggestion to play along with the betrothal has its merits… and the longer they pretend, the more undeniably real their feelings become. But when the true culprit behind their engagement is revealed, can their newfound happiness survive the scandal? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Tiny Little Thing Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams is $1.99! This is book two in the Schuler Sisters series, but I think it’s find to read on its own. Williams writes mainly historical fiction and her books have popped up on the site a few times. In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November. But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. How to Date a Douchebag: The Studying Hours The Studying Hours by Sara Ney is FREE! Series name aside, I really enjoyed this one back when the Audible Escape package was around. I also recommended it in our Seduction as a Bet Rec League and for Ready Set Go: Double Features. This book reminded me a lot of Kristen Callihan’s The Hookup in terms of vibe. CRUDE. ARROGANT. A**HOLE. No doubt about it, Sebastian ‘Oz’ Osborne is the university’s most celebrated student athlete—and possibly the biggest douchebag. A walking, talking cliché, he has a filthy mouth, a fantastic body, and doesn’t give a sh*t about what you or anyone else thinks. SMART. CLASSY. CONSERVATIVE. Make no mistake, Jameson Clarke may be the university’s most diligent student—but she is no prude. Spending most of her time in the hallowed halls of the library, James is wary of pervs, jocks, and douchebags—and Oz Osborne is all three. She’s smart, sarcastic—and not what he expected. …EVERY DOUCHBAG HAS HIS WEAKNESS. He wants to be friends. He wants to spend time with her. He wants to drive her crazy. He wants… Her. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Start of Something Good The Start of Something Good by Jennifer Probst is $1.99! An enemies to lovers contemporary, this one is the first in a new series. Readers loved the tension and chemistry between the main characters. However, others wanted more obstacles for the couple to overcome. An enriching story of family ties, broken hearts, and second chances from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst. When Ethan Bishop returns to the Hudson Valley, his body and spirit are a little worse for wear. As a former Special Forces paratrooper, he saw his fair share of conflict, and he came home with wounds, inside and out. At his sisters’ B & B and farm, he can keep all his pain at a safe distance. But quiet time isn’t easy when a fiery woman explodes into his life… It’s business—not pleasure—that brings Manhattan PR agent Mia Thrush reluctantly to the farm. Tightly wound and quick tempered, Mia clashes immediately with the brooding Ethan. Everything about him is irritating—from his lean muscles and piercing blue eyes to his scent of sweat and musk. But as the summer unfolds and temperatures rise, Ethan and Mia discover how much they have in common: their guarded histories, an uncontrollable desire, and a passion for the future that could heal two broken hearts. But will their pasts threaten their fragile chance at a brand-new future? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  6. This HaBO comes from Michelle. Content warning for the description below: Its a contemporary romance I read around like 2007 or so, and it was pretty recent. A woman is at this fancy government party in a foreign country, I think. I don’t remember what her job was. She has to go to the bathroom. She’s at the sink washing her hands, and all of a sudden a group of terrorists with big guns come storming into the building to hold all the people hostage. She ends up getting shot, I’m pretty sure. Cut to her like 5 years later or something, she’s moved back to her hometown and has opened up a bakery. It turns out that she had been pregnant when she was shot and she had a miscarriage. She ends up falling in love with a local guy, and in the end everybody lives happily ever after. This sounds kind of bonkers. View the full article
  7. B+ Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon January 11, 2022 · Berkley Romance Show SpoilerTW for depression, ableism, anti-Semitism, microaggressions Weather Girl is a rom-com that manages to stay sweet and funny despite tackling some serious subject matter. I found this book to be charming and relatable, and I especially enjoyed the mature communication between the two leads. Ari Abrams loves being a meteorologist, but hates the constant conflict between her boss (the weather reporter, Torrance Hale), and Torrance’s ex (Seth, the station director). After a particularly awful and grossly unprofessional fight between Torrance and Seth at an office event, Ari discovers that Russell, a sports reporter at the station, shares her frustration. Ari and Russell think that there’s a chance that they can get Torrance and Seth back together, which would make the workplace more positive and allow both Ari and Russ to get the mentorship and promotional opportunities that they deserve. However, the more they work to renew the romance between Torrance and Seth, the closer they get to each other. The actual plot of this book, influenced by The Parent Trap, is cute but predictable. There are a lot of charming and funny scenes as Ari and Russell work their magic, but everything that makes this romance truly special involves character interaction: the layers that Seth and Torrance eventually reveal, the familial relationships, some tense and some warm, between various family members, the maturity with which conflicts and relationships are approached by everyone except (initially) Torrance and Seth, who are locked in a passive aggressive war of hostile office signs. Ari is living with clinical depression. I thought the book did a good job of addressing how this condition has affected Ari throughout her life and how she manages her condition, with the caveat that everyone who lives with clinical depression, including myself, has a different experience. Ari’s mother has the same condition and taught Ari to conceal her depression from everyone to avoid rejection. By including Ari’s mother’s experience along with Ari’s, we get to see different generational experiences with depression and different coping mechanisms, both positive and negative. By the start of the book, Ari is managing her depression successfully with a combination of medication and therapy, but she still feels a need to conceal her condition and her occasional depressive episodes from everyone around her. A key part of the story is her developing the ability to be honest with someone who deserves her and meets her with support and acceptance. Even though the story involves depression, it’s not depressing. This is a grounded story about people who feel real and complicated and who are also very funny. I adored the fact that most conflicts between Ari and Russell are resolved quickly because when a conflict arises they actually talk to each other. Several characters are in or have been or begin going to therapy, separately and/or together, and this is portrayed in a positive light. Incidentally, Russell has a large tummy and is embarrassed about it. Ari loves it. In their first sex scene they navigate his body shame and her difficulties with orgasm (a combination of self-consciousness and a common side effect of anti-depressants). It’s a sexy, funny, honest scene and I loved it. I adored this couple with every fiber of my being, even on the rare and mercifully brief moments in which they were being stupid – moments which were, as I mentioned above, quickly resolved by communication. For the most part, this story hit my personal sweet spot with enough conflict to keep the plot moving but with people resolving a lot of conflicts quickly by acting like mature adults. However, there’s one big fight towards the end of the book that felt contrived to me and that went on much longer than seemed realistic for these characters. A small warning that as one of three Jewish people at the news station, Ari is on the receiving end of several micro-aggressions. For instance, she asks for the “Office Christmas Party” to be more inclusive.The office responds by changing the name of the party to the “Holiday” party but neglects to change anything else. Anti-Semitism isn’t a major theme of the book, but this and a few other micro-aggressions do show up, especially in the first few chapters. I identified big time with different aspects of the characters in this book and I was completely devoted to Ari and Russell as a fun, imperfect, but honest and affectionate couple. I’ve read a lot of books recently in which the romance was the least interesting part of the book. This book gave me the opposite feeling. Ari and Russell are nice people who are nice to spend time with, so while this book was not, shall we say, action packed, it was a lovely story about being honest with and about yourself and others and finding unexpected love. View the full article
  8. The Perks of Loving a Wallflower The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley is $2.99! This is book two in The Wynchesters historical romance series. This one has been mentioned a couple times on the site, including a Hide Your Wallet post and Get Rec’d with Amanda. Fans of Bridgerton will love this Regency romp in which a proper Society miss recruits a very improper lady grifter in a quest for vengeance, only to find love instead. As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. Anything to solve the case. Her latest assignment unveils a top-secret military cipher covering up an enigma that goes back centuries. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake . . . Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her cold heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to rescue her priceless manuscript and decode its clues to unmask a villain. She hates that she needs a man’s help—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. Her cold heart . . . did it just pitter-patter? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Handle with Care Handle with Care by Helena Hunting is $2.99! This is part of the Shacking Up series and features the hero getting a makeover. Apparently, we’ve mentioned this previously on the site because it was in our book finder listings, but I have no memory of it. Oh well! HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL. Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman SHE’S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER. Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. First Love, Take Two First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel is $2.99! This is a contemporary romance where two exes become roommates. We featured this one on a previous edition of Cover Awe. Shana gave this a B-: Readers who like to root for a couple who are up against a closed-minded community, and who sympathize with an anxious, and occasionally strident heroine, would enjoy First Love, Take Two. If you’re looking for a standalone romance, low angst, and a couple with stellar communications skills, this might not be for you. Either way, my fellow foodies will want platters of buttermilk biscuits and tacos at hand while you read. On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex. Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Cinderella is Dead Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is $1.99! This is a queer YA fantasy novel inspired by Cinderella. Carrie wrote a Lightning Review for this one, but gave it a DNF (did not finish). Have you read this one? It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again. Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . . This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  9. B The Dating Dilemma by Mariah Ankenman January 24, 2022 · Entangled: Amara Contemporary RomanceRomance The Dating Dilemma is a fun, sexy contemporary romantic comedy about learning to ask for the things you need in life. Lexi is on a six month break from dating, because her boyfriends always take advantage of her giving personality. But when a hot fireman turns up to perform a safety inspection at the youth centre where she is the Assistant Director…well, even if one isn’t dating, one can enjoy looking. Dylan, the hot fireman in question, has sworn off relationships after his fiancée cheated on him with his best friend. But his sisters are worried about him, and he hates to disappoint them almost as much as he hates the idea of them setting him up on surprise dates, so a fake relationship is in order. And who better to ask than the pretty youth centre director who mistook him for a strip-o-gram? This is a classic ‘fake-relationship, we definitely aren’t going to fall in love, but also, we find each other really hot, so let’s have a fling to get it out of our systems!’ narrative. I know exactly how this is going to go, but I am nonetheless totally along for the ride, because it’s fun. Lexi and Dylan are both lovely people, the chemistry between them is VERY hot, and I was happy to spend time with them. What really made this book work for me was the relationships surrounding the protagonists. Dylan has a close and loving relationship with his sisters, and his co-workers are like a second family to him. Lexi’s flatmate is her best friend, and she has an affectionate, nearly sibling-like relationship with him and his partner, as well as warm relationships with her colleagues and the children who use the youth centre. This made for a really cosy book – there were no bad guys in this story, just two kind, caring people, trying to sort their shit out with a little help from their friends and families. I also really liked the theme of facing one’s fears that came up later in the book, and the way that those fears didn’t simply go away, but were easier to manage when the people you love are beside you. I only had two small quibbles. One is that the humour in this book is often about embarrassment – this can be a dealbreaker for me, and this story took me close to the edge of that at times. Also, Lexi and Dylan spent a LOT of time worrying about what each other would think if they confessed their feelings, because heaven forbid they actually have a conversation! This is, I suspect, emotionally realistic for most of us, but it did get frustrating at times. I had a really good time reading this book. It was sweet and low-stress and hot, with just a little bit of food for thought to take away with me – just right for a summer holiday read. View the full article
  10. How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by KM Jackson is $1.99! For some reason, this one isn’t price-matched at Barnes & Noble yet. This is a rom-com road trip with a friends to lovers romance. USA Today bestselling author K.M. Jackson delivers a hilarious road-trip rom-com perfect for fans of Meet Cute and When Harry Met Sally. Bethany Lu Carlisle is devastated when the tabloids report actor Keanu Reeves is about to tie the knot. What?! How could the world’s perfect boyfriend and forever bachelor, Keanu not realize that making a move like this could potentially be devastating to the equilibrium of…well…everything! Not to mention, he’s never come face to face with the person who could potentially be his true soulmate—her. Desperate to convince Keanu to call off the wedding, Lu and her ride-or-die BFF Truman Erikson take a wild road trip to search for the elusive Keanu so that Lu can fulfill her dream of meeting her forever crush and confess her undying love. From New York to Los Angeles, Lu and True get into all sorts of sticky situations. Will Lu be able to find Keanu and convince him she’s the one for him? Or maybe she’ll discover true love has been by her side all along… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Graceling RECOMMENDED: Graceling by Kristin Cashore is $2.99! This is a YA fantasy novel with romantic elements and I LOVED it. The entire series is pretty great, to be honest. The heroine is strong and all sorts of badass, but she’s also trying to cope with being a hired killer for the king. I’m also totally in love with the cover redesigns for this series. Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Cursebreaker Series The Cursebreaker Series by Brigid Kemmerer is $3.99! Normally, this completely trilogy is $25+, so this is a pretty good deal. Carrie read the first book in the series and gave it an A-. Discover the global phenomenon of the Cursebreaker series in this gorgeous three-book hardcover box set! Four royals. Two thrones. One deadly curse. Deep in the heart of Emberfall sits an isolated castle. Inside, Prince Rhen is trapped by a curse; outside, his kingdom falls to ruin. On the dark streets of Washington DC, Harper waits, playing lookout for her brother. She’s always been underestimated because of her cerebral palsy, but when she sees someone in danger she runs to help–only to find herself sucked into Rhen’s cursed world. What begins as a twist on a fairy tale unfolds into a world of magic, danger, love, and betrayal in Brigid Kemmerer’s New York Times bestselling Cursebreaker series. This box set includes hardcover editions of the entire series: A Curse So Dark and Lonely, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, and A Vow So Fierce and Deadly. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Fifty Shades Trilogy The Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James is $4.99! This bundle is a Kindle Daily Deal and I think today’s deals also include Freed. If you enjoy the books and are looking to grab them all digitally, this is a good deal. Now available in a single volume, E L James’s New York Times #1 bestselling trilogy has been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as being “in a class by itself.” Beginning with the GoodReads Choice Award Romance Finalist Fifty Shades of Grey, the Fifty Shades Trilogy will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever. This bundle includes the following novels: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: When college student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly Ana realizes she wants this man, and Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian’s secrets and explores her own desires. FIFTY SHADES DARKER: Daunted by Christian’s dark secrets and singular tastes, Ana has broken off their relationship to start a new career. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and while Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Ana is forced to make the most important decision of her life. FIFTY SHADES FREED: Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to turn Ana’s deepest fears into reality. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  11. Welcome back! Are y’all ready for more recommendations? For those who don’t know, I talk about books a lot in various corners of the book world from working at an independent bookstore to writing freelance book reviews. Here are some titles I recommended to readers in the last couple weeks. Did you get any good recommendations lately? Let me know! A Marvellous Light Granted we ran a review of this one, but I wanted to highlight this one again. I’ve been hand-selling it like crazy and suggesting it to anyone who loves TJ Klune’s newer stuff or Casey McQuiston. Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known. Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else. Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Atlas of Dark Destinations I peeked at this book when we got one single copy into the store. It’s great for anyone who loves history and more macabre subject matter. This is more of a bigger coffee table book and was neat to thumb through. Each day I get closer to buying it for myself. Reaching some of the darkest and most unsettling corners of the world, this is a compendium of travel destinations like no other. Author Peter Hohenhaus has visited and photographed all the places featured in the book, and brings his first-hand knowledge to the reader. Dark tourism has seen a surge in popularity in the last decade and this is the first book to bring together 300 destinations in a readable and fascinating guide. From nuclear bunkers and disaster sites to strange medical museums and eerie catacombs, this book has something for everyone who seeks a travel experience with true meaning. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Cipher I often recommend this one for someone who loves dark police procedurals. I get tired of main characters who are men, detectives, and whose personal lives are falling apart and they’re either a workaholic, alcoholic, or both. To a cunning serial killer, she was the one that got away. Until now… FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera escaped a serial killer’s trap at sixteen. Years later, when she’s jumped in a Virginia park, a video of the attack goes viral. Legions of new fans are not the only ones impressed with her fighting skills. The man who abducted her eleven years ago is watching. Determined to reclaim his lost prize, he commits a grisly murder designed to pull her into the investigation…but his games are just beginning. And he’s using the internet to invite the public to play along. His coded riddles may have made him a depraved social media superstar—an enigmatic cyber-ghost dubbed “the Cipher”—but to Nina he’s a monster who preys on the vulnerable. Partnered with the FBI’s preeminent mind hunter, Dr. Jeffrey Wade, who is haunted by his own past, Nina tracks the predator across the country. Clue by clue, victim by victim, Nina races to stop a deadly killer while the world watches. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter This one makes for a fantastic audiobook with all of its characters. But if you also know someone who loves books that play with form, all the interjections via marginalia and footnotes make this something extra special. Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins. Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  12. Uncharted Uncharted by Adriana Anders is $3.82! An odd price, but not bad for a highly anticipated book that released late last summer. Did any of you wind up picking this one up and liking it? Hotshot pilot Leo Eddowes is afraid of nothing and no one. So when she’s asked to evacuate a man from the wilds of Alaska, she doesn’t hesitate. But with enemies in close pursuit and the weather turning sour, what should have been a simple mission quickly shifts to disaster. And there’s only one way out. When Elias Thorne disappeared, he was America’s most wanted. Now he’s spent more than a decade in one of the most remote places on earth, guarding a dangerous secret. Leo’s arrival, quickly followed by a team of expert hunters, leaves him no choice but to join forces with her—and run. Neither is prepared for their reluctant partnership to flare into something as wild and untamed as the frozen world around them…but as desperately cold days melt into scorchingly hot nights, Leo and Elias must learn to dig deep, trust in each other, and forge a bond as strong as the forces of nature. Stranded together in a frozen wilderness, There’s nowhere left to run… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. A Spot of Trouble A Spot of Trouble by Teri Wilson is $1.99! This is book one in the Turtle Beach series and is a Kindle Daily Deal. I love the goofiness of the dogs on the cover. Some readers thought this was cute and low-angst, while others really disliked the heroine. Get ready to laugh out loud with this hilarious romantic comedy featuring: A grumpy firefighter who thinks his way is the only way A bubbly cupcake vendor who thinks her pup can do no wrong Adorable Dalmatians who swap places—and the chaos that ensues An opposites-attract romance that’ll warm your heart Violet March and Sam Nash are as different as night and day and have been enemies ever since Violet accused Sam of dognapping her beloved Dalmatian. Sam knows that would never happen—his well-trained fire safety demonstration dog never steps out of line, whereas Violet’s problematic pooch has never met a command she didn’t ignore completely, much like her bubbly owner. So when Sprinkles and Cinder accidentally switch places during the annual police vs. fire department softball tournament, Violet is thrilled by her dog’s sudden perfect behavior, while stubborn-yet-charming Sam is horrified to find that his dog no longer listens. But when they eventually realize and switch the dogs back, Sam and Violet are shocked to find that not everything is as simple as it seems. And a little puppy love might be just the thing they’ve been missing… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Matrimonial Advertisement The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews is 99c. This is the first book in the Parish Orphans of Devon series and it’s a Victorian historical romance. It also has a marriage of convenience. Readers say this has a Gothic element, which they loved. However, others felt the book couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a mystery or a romance. Matthews’ books have been recommended several times. She Wanted Sanctuary… Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill–though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome–is anything but a romantic hero. He Needed Redemption… Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household–and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one. Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena’s past threatens, will Justin’s burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Seven Years to Sin Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day is $1.99! This is an erotic historical romance and the book actually inspired Day’s other romance Bared to You ( A | BN | K | G | AB ). Though readers mention the first half is a little slow, they enjoyed the chemistry between the hero and heroine. Seven years ago, on the eve of her wedding, Lady Jessica Sheffield witnessed a scene so scandalous she could not erase it from her memory. Shocked, yet strangely titillated, she nevertheless walked down the aisle into a life serene yet unremarkable. But what she kept hidden fueled wildly imaginative and very illicit dreams. . . Alistair Caulfield ran far from the temptation of the prim debutante–all the way to the West Indies. As a successful merchant, he has little in common with the rakehell youth Jessica once knew. But when newly widowed Jessica steps aboard his ship for a transatlantic passage, seven years’ worth of denied pleasures are held in check by nothing more than a few layers of silk–and the certainty that surrender will consume them both. . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  13. We’re wrapping up January with our second Whatcha Reading! Let’s talk books! Carrie: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez. ( A | BN | K ) So far I love it, but I’m only about a third of the way through. Elyse: I’m reading Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins. ( A | BN | K ) Sarah: I re-read Written in Red ( A | BN | K | G | AB | Au ) and Lake Silence to ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) prepare for Crowbones, which I’m starting next. I’m so excited. SO EXCITED. Sneezy: Re-reading Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins. Her books never shy from real adversity, but somehow they’re all a goddamn warm hug. It’s exactly what I need right now. Shana: I love Forbidden! AI’ve been reading David Chang’s cookbook Cooking at Home ( A | BN | K ) and now I have an enormous crush on him. I also just started Silk & Steel: A Queer Speculative Adventure Anthology and I’m enjoying the short stories so far. Carrie: I am reading a ridiculous romance by Josie Watts called Fish Out of Water, ( A ) it is not great and yet I’m enjoying every minute of it. I’ve been reading a lot of high-falutin’ stuff and this is like eating one of those little mints after a heavy meal. EllenM: So I’ve been reading an indie erotic fantasy romance called Velvet by Lisette Marshall where a spunky, smart princess hooks up with a her father’s remote, sexy spymaster. so far it reads like some kind of smutty fanfic fever dream?? The plot has some VERY obvious plausibility issues but it’s so clearly all just scaffolding for various Sex Scenarios that I don’t think I even care?? I can’t tell if I love this book or hate it. Claudia: Honestly, that sounds awesome, LOL. I’m still struggling with finding a book I like and feel like highlighting here… Catherine: I’ve just embarked on a reread of The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker because my copy of The Hidden Palace has just arrived and I wanted to make sure I remembered everything going in to the sequel. Such beautiful, vivid writing – and such a gorgeous book, too (I have the lovely hardcover with the indigo page edges). I am very hungry to get to the sequel, though! ACarrie: Catherine, I also just had my Hidden Palace hold come in – and I’ve been staring at it thinking, “I should really re-read Golem and Djinni first!” Catherine: Dooooo iiiiiiiiit! It’s such an amazing story. And I haven’t even been to New York – I bet it’s even better if you know the neighbourhoods. Susan: My copy of The Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation( A | BN ) arrived, so I’m back on my roller coaster of feelings. Am I ready for how it goes from hilarious to emotionally devastating? Absolutely not. So whatcha reading? Let us know in the comments! View the full article
  14. The transcript for Podcast 494. Tubthumping with Anxiety, and More New Year’s Wishes! has been posted! This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks. ❤ Click here to subscribe to The Podcast → View the full article
  15. Luck Is No Lady Luck Is No Lady by Amy Sandas is $1.99! This is the first book in the Fallen Ladies series and it came out earlier this year. I’m also loving the cover for this one. Many readers mentioned good book noises after finishing this romance, while others felt the romance between the hero and heroine wasn’t very convincing. It has a 3.9-star rating on Goodreads. “You should not have kissed me,” she replied breathlessly. “I do a lot of things I shouldn’t. It does not mean I won’t do them again.” Gently bred Emma Chadwick always assumed she’d live and die the daughter of a gentleman. But when her father’s death reveals a world of staggering debt and dangerous moneylenders, she must risk her good name and put her talent for mathematics to use, taking a position as bookkeeper at London’s most notorious gambling hall. Surrounded by vice and corruption on all sides, it is imperative no one discovers Emma’s shameful secret or her reputation-and her life-will be ruined. But Roderick Bentley, the hall’s sinfully wealthy owner, awakens a hunger Emma cannot deny. Drawn deep into an underworld of high stakes gambling and reckless overindulgence, she soon discovers that in order to win the love of a ruthless scoundrel, she will have to play the game…and give in to the pleasure of falling from grace. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Bollywood Bride RECOMMENDED: The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev is $1.99! Redheadedgirl and Carrie did a joint review of the book and gave it a B+. The TL;DR of their review was that they wished they had the hero’s POV to help address some of his behaviors, but appreciated how the heroine’s trauma was addressed. They also mention lots of content warnings; click through to their review for more on that. Ria Parkar is Bollywood’s favorite Ice Princess–beautiful, poised, and scandal-proof–until one impulsive act threatens to expose her destructive past. Traveling home to Chicago for her cousin’s wedding offers a chance to diffuse the coming media storm and find solace in family, food, and outsized celebrations that are like one of her vibrant movies come to life. But it also means confronting Vikram Jathar. Ria and Vikram spent childhood summers together, a world away from Ria’s exclusive boarding school in Mumbai. Their friendship grew seamlessly into love–until Ria made a shattering decision. As far as Vikram is concerned, Ria sold her soul for stardom and it’s taken him years to rebuild his life. But beneath his pent-up anger, their bond remains unchanged. And now, among those who know her best, Ria may find the courage to face the secrets she’s been guarding for everyone else’s benefit–and a chance to stop acting and start living. Rich with details of modern Indian-American life, here is a warm, sexy, and witty story of love, family, and the difficult choices that arise in the name of both. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Tremaine’s True Love Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes is $2.99! A few readers found the romance a bit boring and slow, while others loved the characterization of the heroine and hero. We had two favorable guest reviews during our RITA Reader Challenge several years ago. Reader Qualisign gave it A- Reader K Smith gave it an A- Tremaine St. Michael is firmly in trade and seeks only to negotiate the sale of some fancy sheep with the Earl of Bellefonte. The earl’s sister, Lady Nita, is pragmatic, hard-working, and selfless, though Tremaine senses she’s also tired of her charitable obligations and envious of her siblings’ marital bliss. Tremaine, having been raised among shepherds, can spot another lonely soul, no matter how easily she fools her own family. Neither Tremaine nor Nita is looking for love, but love comes looking for them. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Served Hot Served Hot by Annabeth Albert is 99c! This is book one in the Portland Heat series, which has been favorably mentioned several times on the site. This one was also recommended in our Reverse Hallmark Rec League. In Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations… Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but “the usual”—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  16. Amanda and I catch up on her “lots of things to look forward to” plan, which now includes things that were done! We talk about anxiety, therapy, angsty books, trimming your own bangs, and we have book and video game recs, plus new year’s wishes from Elyse, Pudding, and Jane B! Do you like angsty books? Are there books that help you feel things cathartically? … Music: purple-planet.com Listen to the podcast → Read the transcript → Here are the books we discuss in this podcast: We also mentioned: Brad Mondo’s Bang trimming tutorial And also…I get knocked down! If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us on Stitcher, and Spotify, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes. Thanks to our sponsors: Podcast → More ways to sponsor: Sponsor us through Patreon! (What is Patreon?) http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/themes/smartbitches/images/podcast/patreon.png What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast. Thanks for listening! Podcast Sponsor This episode is brought to you by Romancing the Rancher by USA Today bestselling author Kate Pearce, the latest Western romance in the Millers of Morgan Valley series! Perfect for fans of Jennifer Ryan, Lindsay McKenna and Linda Lael Miller, this story follows a hero as he volunteers with the PBR Rodeo association – so there’s lots of behind the scenes details. I love those. Ranching will always run in Evan Miller’s blood, but as the fifth son, he also wants to prove to his skeptical family that he can forge his own path. Drawn to the world of rodeo, Evan encounters Josie Martinez, half-sister of world champion bull rider Rio Martinez. Evan hopes Josie might show him the ropes—among other things—but Josie has priorities of her own…which do not include Evan, though she loves the sanctuary she finds at his ranch. You can find Romancing the Rancher by Kate Pearce wherever books are sold. Find out more at KensingtonBooks.com! Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes or on Stitcher. View the full article
  17. The Trouble with Hating You The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel is $2.99! Sajni Patel gets some really great covers. Her newest one was featured on Cover Awe. Have any of you read this one? What’d you think? A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy debut about first impressions, second chances, and finding the love of your life in the most unexpected way. Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco. Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Other Miss Bridgerton The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn is $1.99! This is the third book in the Rokesbys series and also described as a Bridgertons prequel. However, readers say this works fine as a standalone. Quinn is an auto-buy for a lot of romance readers, though some were unable to forgive the hero for kidnapping the heroine. She was in the wrong place… Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers’ hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain’s bed… He found her at the wrong time… Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he’s stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he’s stuck with her. Can two wrongs make the most perfect right? When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew’s secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. A Spy in the Struggle A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de León is $2.99! This was a previous Hide Your Wallet pick from Maya and was released late in December. This is a crime novel with some California noir vibes. I also remember it making several end of the year book lists. The Washington Post Featured Thriller That Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat Bustle’s Most Anticipated Reads for December Book Riot Featured Hispanic Heritage Month Book CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime Books of Fall 2020 Novel Suspects Featured December New Release “A passionately felt stand-alone with an affecting personal story at its center.” – The Washington Post Winner of the International Latino Book Award, Aya de Leon, returns with a thrilling and timely story of feminism, climate, and corporate justice—as one successful lawyer must decide whether to put everything on the line to right the deep inequities faced in one under-served Bay Area, California community. Since childhood, Yolanda Vance has forged her desire to escape poverty into a laser-like focus that took her through prep school and Harvard Law. So when her prestigious New York law firm is raided by the FBI, Yolanda turns in her corrupt bosses to save her career—and goes to work for the Bureau. Soon she’s sent undercover at Red, Black, and Green—an African-American “extremist” activist group back in her California college town. They claim a biotech corporation fueled by Pentagon funding is exploiting the neighborhood. But Yolanda is determined to put this assignment in her win column, head back to corporate law, and regain her comfortable life… Until an unexpected romance opens her heart—and a suspicious death opens her eyes. Menacing dark money forces will do anything to bury Yolanda and the movement. Fueled by memories of who she once was—and what once really mattered most—how can she tell those who’ve come to trust her that she’s been spying? As the stakes escalate, and one misstep could cost her life, Yolanda will have to choose between betraying the cause of her people or invoking the wrath of the country’s most powerful law enforcement agency. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. A Duchess in Name RECOMMENDED: A Duchess in Name by Amanda Weaver is $1.99! Redheadedgirl reviewed the book and gave it a B+: This book involves a massive renovation, a HERO that was won in a card game, awkwardness, and learning to love each other despite a most inauspicious beginning. Throw in some terrible parenting, and we got ourselves what could totally be a miniseries jointly produced by ITV and HGTV. Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement. Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know. Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  18. C+ John Eyre by Mimi Matthews July 20, 2021 · Perfectly Proper Press Science Fiction/Fantasy Y’all know how much I love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, so it’s no surprise that when someone mentioned a gender-bent version I was intrigued. John Eyre doesn’t match up for me as a version of Jane Eyre, but it is an atmospheric, compelling Gothic – low on heat and character development, but with enough chills to be fun for a stormy winter’s night. John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow tells the tale of the titular John Eyre, who accepts a post at a remote estate where he is to tutor two young boys. The estate is pleasant enough but mysterious and shrouded in a fog that rarely fully lifts – people keep referring to a storm that is coming soon but that, to John’s confusion, never seems to arrive. When John’s employer, a widow named Mrs. Rochester, visits the estate, he is captivated by her gruff and brooding personality. A series of letters and flashbacks reveal the secrets behind Mrs. Rochester’s brief and turbulent marriage. Will John be able to help Mrs. Rochester find happiness at last? Despite a strong horror base, this book is all Romance Novel, so it’s no spoiler to say that the odds of this couple prevailing against the powers of darkness are good. For an adaptation to succeed as an adaptation for me, the characters must be true to their original counterparts, and the themes of the original story must be conveyed in some manner in the new version. Jane Eyre is, among other things, a character study in which Jane lives by the principle that her life has value despite a wide variety of individuals and institutions telling her otherwise. John Eyre is a mix of Jane Eyre and Dracula in which John Eyre is essentially a blank slate but Mrs. Rochester, his employer, is a brooding and mysterious force of nature. As soon as I realized this I relaxed and enjoyed what is essentially two well-written stories smushed together with an abundance of atmosphere and feminism and very little of the original Jane Eyre left beyond location and some plot elements. John Eyre is the book’s weak link. He is almost completely devoid of personality. He is a decent, intelligent human being who is patient and kind to his pupils, two pale and fearful little boys. The moral struggles Jane endures and the consequences that Jane is faced with are absent from John’s life. The romance between John and Mrs. Rochester felt lacking in chemistry and passion. The most effective trick of the book is that making Rochester female and adding plot elements from Dracula allow for some unique ways to critique the positions women held in society before, during, and after marriage. The parts of the book written from Mrs. Rochester’s point-of-view are terrifying on practical, as well as supernatural, levels. I adored this character, although she, too, is pretty much the same person at the beginning of the story as at the end. Alas Mrs. Rochester has one specific problem that I saw as an easy one to solve, which exasperated me no end just when I should have been the most enraptured. This particular issue meant that the ending of the book provided closure but wasn’t completely believable. This is a solidly structured story (until the weak ending) with an abundance of atmosphere, and it makes for good stormy day reading. The minimal character development and chemistry made this less compelling, cohesive, and memorable than I wanted to be, and I was underwhelmed by the story’s conclusion, which featured a plot hole as large as the yawning grave, and I could not have cared less about the romance. However, certain scenes from the book absolutely linger in my mind as examples of haunting and terrifying situations and places. View the full article
  19. This is a weird part of January, isn’t it? It’s Very Winter in the northern hemisphere. It’s long after the holidays, and a few weeks away from Valentine’s Day, aka Pink Halloween Candy on sale, and for me, it’s coooooold. Whoo, cold. What about you? How are you doing? What are you looking forward to this weekend, or in the weeks ahead? I have new projects I’m working on, and I have So Many Books to read. I’m also working on another quilt, which is my very quiet Quarantimes hobby that I adore. It’s great: I cut myself a puzzle, assemble it by sewing straight lines, and then, when it’s done, I can hide under it, be warm, and read. My goal is to have 2.5 quilts per mammal in the house. The cat is annoyed he only has one. What about you? Anything you’re anticipating? Anything you’re crafting and keeping warm (or cool!) with? Please tell us about it! View the full article
  20. Welcome back to Wednesday Links! This is an early edition this week. The site has been having some scheduling issues. If you’ve noticed posts aren’t going live at their usual times, that’s why! It’s a little chilly here in New England. I hope anyone in the path of the winter storm is staying safe and warm. Linus has been doing a lot of yowling about it, proceeded by hours snoozing in the dead center of my bed. Let’s get into the links! A couple of Encanto things today because I watched the movie last week. I definitely think a majority of the family owes Mirabel and Bruno huge apologies. … If you also watched Encanto, here’s some behind the scenes info on how the most popular song from the soundtrack “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” got made. … For fans of the Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir, this was shared in my grad school friends group chat. Now you can get your own house pin. How can you choose just one?! … I’ve been playing video games for decades at this point and I was surprised to learn that Mortal Kombat also has something besides gruesome fatalities. They have “friendships” and they’re so delightful. My personal favorites are Sheeva, Kung Lao, and Fujin. … Don’t forget to share what cool or interesting things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way! View the full article
  21. Beauty Tempts the Beast Beauty Tempts the Beast by Lorraine Heath is $1.99! This is part of the Sins for All Seasons historical romance series and we recently discussed this one on Cover Awe. It also features one of my favorite tropes: “seduction lessons” though I have a particular weakness for it being flipped, with the heroine being the teacher. If you have any recs for that, let me know below! She wants lessons in seduction Althea Stanwick was a perfect lady destined to marry a wealthy lord, until betrayal left her family penniless. Though she’s lost friends, fortune, and respectability, Althea has gained a scandalous plan. If she can learn to seduce, she can obtain power over men and return to Society on her terms. She even has the perfect teacher in mind, a man whose sense of honor and dark good looks belie his nickname: Beast. But desire like this can’t be taught Benedict Trewlove may not know his parentage but he knows where he belongs—on the dark side of London, offering protection wherever it’s needed. Yet no woman has ever made such an outrageous request as this mysterious beauty. Althea is out of place amongst vice and sin, even if she offers a wicked temptation he can’t resist. But as the truth of his origin emerges at last, it will take a fierce, wild love to overcome their pasts. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Chaos Reigning Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik is $1.99! Ellen reviewed it, giving it a B-: I think if you have enjoyed the series overall this is a worthwhile read, but I wish my expectations had not been so high coming off the second book. Interplanetary intrigue and romance combine in this electrifying finale to the Consortium Rebellion series. As the youngest member of her High House, Catarina von Hasenberg is used to being underestimated, but her youth and flighty, bubbly personality mask a clever mind and stubborn determination. Her enemies, blind to her true strength, do not suspect that Cat is a spy—which makes her the perfect candidate to go undercover at a rival House’s summer retreat to gather intelligence on their recent treachery. Cat’s overprotective older sister reluctantly agrees, but on one condition: Cat cannot go alone. Alexander Sterling, a quiet, gorgeous bodyguard, will accompany her, posing as her lover. After Cat tries, and fails, to ditch Alex, she grudgingly agrees, confident in her ability to manage him. After all, she’s never found a person she can’t manipulate. But Alex proves more difficult—and more desirable—than Cat anticipated. When she’s attacked and nearly killed, she and Alex are forced to work together to figure out how deep the treason goes. With rumors of widespread assaults on Serenity raging, communications down, and the rest of her family trapped off-planet, Catarina must persuade Alex to return to Earth to expose the truth and finish this deadly battle once and for all. But Cat can’t explain why she’s the perfect person to infiltrate hostile territory without revealing secrets she’d rather keep buried. . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. How to Find a Princess RECOMMENDED: How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole is $2.99! Shana read this one and gave it a B: How to Find a Princess is an imaginative twist on a modern lost royal trope, and a character-driven story that made me fall in love with everyone I met, even if they occasionally frustrated me. New York Times and USA Today bestseller Alyssa Cole’s second Runaway Royals novel is a queer Anastasia retelling, featuring a long-lost princess who finds love with the female investigator tasked with tracking her down. Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir. Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with. When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. London Celebrities Collection RECOMMENDED: London Celebrities Collection by Lucy Parker is $2.99! This set collections 3 contemporary romances. Sarah loves this series and you can catch her reviews here: Act Like It: A- Pretty Face: B Making Up: B+ The first three full-length novels in Lucy Parker’s delightfully charming London Celebrities series, available together for the first time. ACT LIKE IT This just in: romance takes center stage as West End theatre’s Richard Troy steps out with none other than castmate Elaine Graham Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made London’s bad boy a new man? Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. From fits of jealousy to longing looks and heated whispers, onlookers are stunned by this blooming romance. Could the rumors be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all? PRETTY FACE It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers… MAKING UP Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when she’s unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team. Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser. When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. And Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them. It seems hopeless. Utterly impossible. And yet… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  22. C+ The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling October 5, 2021 · St. Martin's Press GothicHistorical: EuropeanRomance TW/CW for book TW/CW: Gore, body horror, guilt, ectopic pregnancy, PTSD/trauma, godawful ancient metal syringes, sleep deprivation, general mindfuckery I love a good gothic, and The Death of Jane Lawrence had a lot of buzz. But now that I have read it, I am confused about three key elements, which I list here in a Non-spoilery format: Is the title accurate? Is this a romance? What the hell happened? The book starts off in standard but solid Gothic mode. The main character, Jane, wants an “unconventional” marriage, one which will allow her to remain independent while also having financial and social security. She doesn’t want children and she wants to live her own life, so she has to find a spouse who is willing to enter a marriage of convenience. Jane seeks out a doctor who fits the bill in that he’s close in age, moderately well-off, and needs an accountant (Jane is brilliant with numbers). Sure enough, Dr. Augustine Lawrence is willing to marry her, and they really hit it off, so much so that Jane starts to think this might not be a marriage solely of convenience after all. The deal is that Jane will work and live at his home office in town, and he will spend nights at his ancestral mansion, Lindridge Hall. He tells her she is never to spend a night at Lindridge and that he must never spend a night away from it. Of course plot things happen and she does spend a night there and to the shock of no one other than Jane the place is haunted as fuck. The first part of the book is thus a solid, traditional Gothic (creepy house, husband with secrets, forbidden rooms, a gutsy heroine with a candelabra, a lot of weather, etc). Jane is a brilliant, independent person who manages to hold a patient’s insides open during a surgery on her very first visit to her husband’s office without fainting, crying, or puking. This is an impressive achievement since the operation is gory, prolonged, and performed with only a bit of ether as anesthesia. On top of that, Jane had only shown up to the surgery on that occasion to take a look at ledgers, not to stare at a person’s exposed intestines. As if that wasn’t enough, Jane promptly learns that magic is a thing and that her patient was suffering from an injury caused by magic. She takes it in stride. About halfway through the book the tone swerves away from gothic romance into full-on horror including astonishing levels of gore. Jane quickly becomes an unreliable narrator when she attempts a spell that requires going for five nights without sleep. Aided by some of her new husband’s cocaine (he has it in his stash of medical supplies), she does various spellcraft things that become increasingly bizarre until neither the reader nor Jane knows what to make of things. Reader, be prepared for LITERAL buckets of blood here. This transition would have worked better if there had been a gradual build up, but Jane experiences a high level of terror early and pretty much stays there. I would have liked a smoother transition in tone and a more gradual escalation of Jane’s fear and stress levels as her time without sleep accrued. There’s a lot of repetition during the five night long spell that bogs the plot down considerably without adding to character or helping me make sense of what’s happening. It is also jarring that the previously intelligent and sensible Jane makes several baffling and inane choices. Why would Jane agree to marry someone who is clearly harboring a terrible secret? She has other candidates that she can approach, after all. Dr. Augustine was just the first on the list. Pro tip: don’t marry someone who says that you can never come to his house at night and he can’t leave his house at night! Has this poor woman been studying so much math that she neglected to read fiction and folklore? Has she no common sense? When the guy says, “Whatever you do don’t go into the cellars,” LEAVE! Also, given that the first half of the book is all about the many reasons that one should not attempt to do magic under any circumstances, how can she possibly think it’s a good plan to attempt to perform magic, especially magic of the creepy variety? I have more questions, some of which are plot spoilers… And why does she have to do it herself? Why aren’t any of her husband’s magician friends helping her? Also, why is she loyal to this man who she barely knows? Dear Readers, sometimes I can’t tell if a book is terribly confusing or if I am maybe just not the brightest bulb in the tanning booth. Eventually time travel gets involved, and between what happened with that, plus the constant struggle of the characters and the reader to distinguish reality from hallucination, plus a variety of supernatural beings, I really don’t know what happened at the end of the book. The situation is not clarified by the fact that the book is set in a slightly alternate version of Victorian England. Not only does this alternate world contain magic, but it also contains a war that didn’t happen in our universe as well as some smaller changes. I felt that the setting added to the confusion while not contributing anything that couldn’t have been otherwise present (other than magic). I liked the prose in this book and I liked Jane’s tenacity and her abilities with math. I also initially liked the romance between Jane and Augustine, two people who don’t expect to find love but who are astonished to find that they actually LIKE each other. I was, however, too unforgiving towards Augustine for keeping certain secrets from Jane to root for their romance for long, and without understanding the ending I can’t say whether it’s a happy one or not (although there is a significant hint that something is Not Right). I’d say this book is for fans of gothic horror who can appreciate both the first section of the book, which leans towards gothic with a little horror, and the second, which is horror with a little gothic. It’s also a good fit for readers who are willing to put some work into following the plot – if you want a light read that you can enjoy on autopilot, this won’t work. However, if you can put up with the book’s many flaws (it’s confusing, the pace is slow and repetitive, and many things just don’t make sense) then you might enjoy the impeccable use of gothic motifs to create a mood and Jane’s stubborn devotion to solving the problem in front of her, be it magical or mundane. View the full article
  23. This HaBO is from Nikki, who is looking for this Scribd title. Trigger warning for the description below: I have a book I’ve been trying to find that I’m starting to believe may have been a dream. However, I’m pretty sure I read it on Scribd maybe 5+ years ago. I’m pretty sure the heroine was possibly a nurse with an annoying boss/coworker who died. She was struck by lightning I think at his funeral or when they were spreading ashes and was able to see or hear his ghost after that. The hero is alive and may have been Asian. They end up getting pregnant and she has a miscarriage (or is worried about it because she had in the past). Unfortunately I don’t remember most of the plot, but I think the heroine was insecure about her appearance and would wear black a lot. Not a lot to go off of, but surprisingly googling “heroine struck by lightning” isn’t pulling up a lot, so I’d thought I’d give HaBO a try! Who knows this one? View the full article
  24. Single Malt Single Malt by Layla Reyne is $1.99! This is a gay romantic suspense novel with an age difference and a workplace romance. Hello catnip! I will warn that there appears to be a cliffhanger in this book. Reviewers had mostly good things to say about the pacing and characterization, and it has a 4-star rating on Goodreads. The heart’s a resilient beast Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits. Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable. Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Wait for It Wait for It by Mariana Zapata is 99c! Zapata is an autobuy author for many of you and the book has a 4.2-star rating on Goodreads. Though the heroine has ties to a character in one of Zapata’s previous books, it can be read as a standalone. For any Zapata fans out there, how did this book rate compared to her other romances? If anyone ever said being an adult was easy, they hadn’t been one long enough. Diana Casillas can admit it: she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing half the time. How she’s made it through the last two years of her life without killing anyone is nothing short of a miracle. Being a grown-up wasn’t supposed to be so hard. With a new house, two little boys she inherited the most painful possible way, a giant dog, a job she usually loves, more than enough family, and friends, she has almost everything she could ever ask for. Except for a boyfriend. Or a husband. But who needs either one of those? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Mess with Me Mess with Me by Nicole Helm is $2.99! And this is definitely a cover I can get behind…or in front of…or under. Some found this book didn’t have the same feel as Helm’s other romances, which threw them for a loop. But, if you like grumpy reclusive heroes, you might want to give this one a shot. In Gracely, Colorado, it’s all about the climb—into the rugged Rocky Mountains, and over the obstacles that life has thrown in your way. With the right partner, the view from the top is grand . . . Sam Goodall knows how to hide. And in the years since his sister’s death, he’s done just that, burying himself in his work at the Evans brothers’ Mile High Adventures as a backpacking guide. Clients don’t mind his strong, silent demeanor, and he’s happy to leave the rest of the world behind when he’s hiking, or holed up in the off-grid cabin he calls home. But he owes his life—what there is of it—to the Evans boys, and when they ask for a favor, he can’t refuse. Hayley Winthrop is looking for something she’s never had—a true sense of family, and a purpose. Finding her half brothers was the first step—discovering where she belongs in the world is the next. Could it be in the fresh air of small-town Gracely? With hunky Sam agreeing to train her as an outdoors guide, she’s torn between exploring her newfound skills and getting closer to him. But chipping away at the walls around Sam could take a lifetime . . . Sam is stuck in the past, and Hayley is looking toward her future—they’re a mismatched pair from the start. But the connection between them right now is too good to let go . . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Mogul Mogul by Joanna Shupe is $1.99! This is the third book in the Knickerbocker Club series. Readers really loved the second chance/reunited lovers element of the romance, but they wanted more in terms of growth and redemption. A few of Shupe’s other historical romances are also on sale, if you’re looking to fill in your library. The privileged members of the Knickerbocker Club can never climb too high up the social ladder. But for one charming New York bachelor, does the ascent take precedence over love in the Gilded Age? As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess—and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants . . . Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she’ll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm’s length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious powerbroker turns out to be absolutely irresistible? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  25. B+ Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly January 18, 2022 · Forever GothicHorrorScience Fiction/Fantasy CW: transphobia Love and Other Disasters rides the cooking show competition wave with a romance between two contestants. In one corner, we have London, an openly nonbinary, pansexual contestant who is especially good at desserts. In the other, we have Dahlia, a queer (her word) divorcee who is great with main courses. London is quiet and reserved. Dahlia is goofy and outgoing. Will these two find love amidst the perils of cooking, competition, and reality TV? This is a romance so…OMG, OF COURSE THEY WILL AND IT’S ADORABLE. Tara: I’m going to get my favourite aspect out of the way: I am big fans of Dahlia and London (as characters, but also, I’d definitely be cheering for them if I were watching the show). Dahlia is probably my favourite because she’s so layered. She’s bubbly and lovely, doesn’t take shit from anyone, but also beats herself up over her divorce and how little money she has now that she’s single. She has a very strong arc, because she comes to understand that she deserves happiness and love, and isn’t just the big fuckup that her inner saboteur says she is. London can come across as grumpy when they’re actually guarded, because they’re concerned about being accepted as they are. Not going to lie — that made me want to protect them with bubble wrap and fight anyone who’s shitty to them. I especially loved watching London warm up to Dahlia because, as determined as they were to keep Dahlia at a distance, London stood no chance. I had fun as London recognized their growing attraction and how hard they were falling for Dahlia, against their better judgement. Carrie: The two characters balance each other beautifully, don’t they? In addition to the development of their romance being an utter delight, I felt like these two people complemented each other’s personalities the same way certain flavors complement each other in cooking. On their own, each character is a LOT, but combined they are JUST RIGHT. Even though their romance develops very quickly, it felt like a slow burn because their chemistry was so intense that every time they even glanced at each other I was all “KISS ALREADY!” Tara: I completely agree about their chemistry! I was so happy when they started to spend more time together off-set, driving out to the beach and crashing a wedding, among other activities. I could have happily read another hundred pages of them hanging out around LA. London’s nonbinary identity is a huge part of the story and their character journey. As someone who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns, I was thrilled to see a nonbinary character as the lead of a romance. I felt seen as I read about London’s perspective and what they navigate as they live their truth in a world that doesn’t always understand them. Unfortunately that does mean London experiences transphobia, although I found it was conveyed sensitively. Details about transphobia in the narrative The transphobia London experiences comes from a few places: London shares with Dahlia that in the three years since they came out, their dad has refused to use their correct pronouns. I was relieved that, when we see him on the page, he doesn’t use any pronouns, so we don’t have to watch him misgender them. Early in the story, another contestant argues that London’s pronouns are grammatically incorrect and she never changes her mind. However, the one time she misgenders London while speaking with Dahlia, the book uses the correct pronoun in place of the misgendering and tells us “Except Lizzie didn’t say they.” When the show starts airing, some people on social media are super shitty about London being nonbinary. We don’t see any of the social media posts and only learn about them as a generality. In contrast, near the end of the story, we see some beautiful, supportive posts from people who are nonbinary or have someone who is nonbinary in their lives. The supportive posts don’t make up for the transphobic posts that London skims past, but they’re a great reminder that openly queer celebrities change and save lives. I wasn’t sure how I felt at first when the book told me that London was assigned female at birth, but I came around to it because it was part of London’s musings and it’s part of their story. As someone who thought I was a straight girl in high school, it’s not like I can say much about London reflecting on a similar period in their life… Carrie: I experienced the discussion of London’s identity from a different angle, because I am cis-gender and heterosexual, and because I knew very little about what it means to be nonbinary prior to reading this book. It did a great job of explaining what “nonbinary” means, and that different people experience being nonbinary differently, in a way that I could quickly understand. I never felt preached at or talked down to — the information was presented in a character-based, organic manner with a focus on validating every individual’s experience. Tara: The only thing I hated about this book was one of the sex scenes. Specifically, a sex scene with food involved. London was squeezing nectarine juice all over Dahlia’s body and started fingering her without washing their hands. Dahlia spreads I don’t even know what (the book doesn’t say, but I’m guessing syrup or honey) all over London’s back and starts touching their genitals, also without washing her hands. The whole time I wanted to yell at both of them about yeast infections and bacterial infections, because neither of those are sexy AT ALL. The other sex scenes were hot and full of incredible chemistry. Hell, the chemistry was great in this one too, but I couldn’t stop cringing. Carrie: OMG, all I could think about in that scene was UTI’s and yeast infections! So cringy, but I also kind of loved the scene because Dahlia couldn’t stop laughing as they experimented with different foods, and London got grumpy because Dahlia wasn’t being serious. From a character standpoint, this seemed so funny but also so much more realistic than some “erotic” scenes I’ve read, in which everyone is deadly serious all the time. I would ABSOLUTELY get the giggles so I liked that. But for goodness sakes, dear readers, do not try this at home! I was distressed (but not surprised) that the cooking show producers wanted certain things to happen for the sake of a story — a story which essentially erases Dahlia and which puts London in a vulnerable position. I read it as cruel, but also as realistic. Of course the producers want there to be story arcs, and of course they want to create as much polarization as possible to draw in viewers. I believed it but it left me feeling grossed out and worried about London and angry on behalf of Dahlia. I was also annoyed about Dahlia and London’s big fight. I believed it would happen — their romance happened so fast that not only did they never discuss certain crucial issues, but they also didn’t have a lot of time to do so even if they had remembered to do it. Like my problem with the reality show, I found the fight to be plausible, but it was ugly and it killed the buzz. Tara: That’s fair, although that bothered you more than me. I found the reality show’s constraints (a lot of hours spent together in a short number of days, knowing they can get sent home at any time, etc.) effective for creating intimacy between London and Dahlia in a way that’s rapid and very intense. And because everything moves so fast, the question of what they’ll do when one of them gets sent home (an inevitability in a show with one winner) is the main angst driver. I agree that the fight between them is ugly, but their makeup and HEA balances that out for me. Overall, I really enjoyed this one! Dahlia and London were such wonderful characters, and I’m a big fan of cooking shows, so I know I’ll be reading Love and Other Disasters again. I’ll just be sure to stock snacks next time, because reading about so much amazing food made me hungry. Carrie: Even with those two things that bugged me, I was delighted with this book overall. The supporting characters were fun (or loathsome, as the plot demanded). The character development was realistic and powerful. The romance was sexy and I can totally picture Dahlia and London as an old couple on a porch somewhere — I was invested in them for the long haul. This will be one of my comfort re-reads for sure! View the full article
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