Contemporary Feed

Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin

44. Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitvien. (ARC, 5/10) RomSuspense. Started out promising but too much of the emotional conflict was the MCs arguing if it was too risky for the RCMP heroine to keep helping the framed DEA agent hero on the run. #ttr #bkbrk https://t.co/0rfLpBBgLs

— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) June 3, 2018

 

51BEYqNiYELI really loved the start of this book. A RCMP officer find a bullet-ridden man on a rain-soaked back road on a stormy night and is forced to bring him home.  Kate Dexter is all business, practical, wary and very very suspicious. She doesn't have time to ogle the handsome and extremely well built victim.  She worries about how dangerous it makes him.

Poitevin captured the extreme tension within Kate as she tries to decide how to respond to situation. Her instincts are at war with the police procedures and every minute she hesitate the bigger the cost to her career.   Poitevin carries that tension over  to the intense action and suspense scenes.  

However while the action kept Jonas Burke, a framed ATF agent on the run, and Kate ricocheting around Ontario and the Northeast United States,  the romance stalled.  I was frustrated by the repetitive nature of Kate and Jonas arguments.  While Poitevin eventually gives us the backstory as to why Jonas is so fiercely and stubbornly independent, I was too bored with Jonas continued insentience that Kate stop helping him, and his doubts about her abilities even though she consistently proved herself extremely capable.  Jonas's realization of the errors of his ways came much too late for me and while the epilogue was sweet and perfect, I still think Kate should have smacked him and walked away, because she endured too much from Jonas as he tried to push her away. I thought Kate should have hooked up with her ex or her fabulously supportive partner instead.

Shadow of Doubt had a fantastic heroine, gripping action and a frustrating lug of a hero, who tried to pushed away the best partner he could have ever hope to have found.

 

I received a ARC from the author for review consideration.

 

 


Resort to Love by Priscilla Oliveras review over at Love in Panels

I accepted Suzanne's invitation to join the Love in Panels Review team.  I will be reviewing one or two books a month for them. 

Ever since RT announced that it will be closing, I've been trying to figure out it I wanted to join another group venture or just write for myself.  This is the best of both worlds. I have total freedom of what I choose to review for Love in Panels, and I get to support a review blog I respect. 

 

I'll always link to my reviews here too, but I hope you add Love in Panels to your  bookmarks!

 

 


Rome's Chance by Joanna Wylde

Rome's Chance_Joanna Wylde's books are really hit or miss for me usually. I either love them or I hate read them but either way I rarely put them down because they are really emotionally engrossing.  This was a second-chance at love/reunion romance for two minor characters in a book I hate read (Reaper's Fire), yet I really liked it.

Randi has been taking care of her siblings since she was just a kid because of her mom's addiction issues. The warring feelings of love and resentment Randi feels for her mother were very well portrayed as were Randi's creeping awareness that things have been going terribly for her youngest siblings while she has been away at school in a different town.   Despite Randi's complicated feeling for her mother, Wylde was surprisingly compassionate in the portrayal.

Rome is a classic caretaker hero, thankfully without the asshole bossiness qualities that often comes packaged with the caretaker alpha character type in Biker novels. He truly cares for Randi, and put in the effort to be there for her when she can't cope. He understands the ups and downs of her grief and sticks even when she lashes out.  Randi's self-protective, self-denial and a real sense that she just doesn't have the energy for a a relationship, doesn't faze him, because he is there not to get something for himself, but because he wants to take care of her.

“We’ll date later,” he told me, dropping back down in front of me. “Maybe next year. Until then, I’ll be the guy fucking you. And the guy who bandages up your feet. You can cry on me, too, but I’m not gonna let you dump me until we’ve had a real chance. Sooner or later, you’ll be ready to live again. I can wait.” -- Rome's Chance by Joanna Wylde

 

I won't recommend this widely because biker books just aren't for everyone, but if you like biker books, I liked this one.


Recent Reads: Mini-Reviews of my April Reading including books by Kristen Ashley, Holley Trent, Lauren Dane and Deanna Raybourn

This surprise novella gives an HEA to a longstanding supporting character in the Rock Chick series, Shirleen, the former poker-game running, black office manager at Lee Investigations, whose over-the-top meddling has incited many a romantic conflicts in the series.  She is now a devoted single foster mother to two teenage boys on the brink of manhood. As a character Shirleen has always been problematic, and this book is no exception.

When a handsome man tries to pick her up at the grocery store, she first runs from his attention and then soaks it in, saving his number despite being determined not to ever call him because she is sure her sketchy past, precludes her from deserving of the HEAs she has helped engineer for her girlfriends have all received.  So the Rock Chicks and the Hot Bunch intervene.

What I really enjoyed about this romance was the care Moses took in building up his relationship with Shirleen. He knows she is skittish with good reason, so he puts in the work. They have long phone-calls, romantic dinners and is there for her breaking down the barriers to her believing she deserves to be happy and that someone can love her despite her complicated history.

Like all anthologies there are some really great stories and some so-so ones and all of them are no longer than a handfuls of pages. My favorites were "Here" by Ronnie Garcia, "Stories from my father" by  Adam Lance Garcia and Heidi Black, "A Broken Promesa" by Rosa Colon and "Blame it on 'Rico" by  Alberto 'Tito' Serrano,  It will be a great document to use try to unpack all the cultural anxieties experienced by Puerto Ricans and the Boricuan Diaspora. I was also once again fascinated by the amount of projection we Puerto Ricans are able channel into Taino imagery as an expression of anti-colonial sentiment. I understand the impulse and desire to reclaim that lost heritage but I feel we run the danger of colonizing them once more with our narratives. Puerto Rico has a lot more wrestling to do in the present with its colonial reality and reading this anthology made me feel a lot less alone, as I recognize so much of the home I grew up in, the worries and hopes I have for it and the murkiness of its future in it.

An abused, low-ranking wolf female jumps at a chance to leave her wretched home back by answering a mating call.  Arriving to a new pack as modern-day mail-order bride of sorts, she has no idea what to expect, and only has the hope that these wolves will be better, less brutal and that her role as wife, rather than a single female will be more secure.  Only when she arrives her assigned mate doesn't want her.  Determined not to go back, she sets out to out-stubborn him.  I quite liked the heroine and her hope and determination. She is practical and clear-eyed about the society she has grown up in, and it was a treat to see her grown in confidence as she realizes her world need not be as small as it was before.  

However I didn't care for the hero or his self-hating about his new disability. His view of himself as lesser and unworthy as mate, and that didn't work for me.  I particularly didn't like how long it took him to realize that his determination to reject her was about overriding her choices. And I didn't like that in the end he was containing to insist in denying her the bite that would allow her to shift fully after reconciling himself to the blessing of having her as his wife. I did like the rest of the world, so I will eventually read the rest of these, but I think I will jump to the Viking Queen's Men book everyone else is raving about first.

I really loved the beginning of this book. I loved how the heroine's dating life was messy and how realistically she responded the attention and interest after her mini-makeover. She basks in the new-found male attention but doesn't lose sight of her boundaries. When one of her dates starts getting possessive, and clingy, she reacts in reasonable ways, mildly rebuking, trying to distance herself while also being aware of the potential danger.  

However I didn't like how much the story relied on portraying women outside the heroine's friendship circle, and in the hero's past as vain and bitchy and how often the heroine had to stake her claim through uncomfortable confrontations. I really hate the trope that the hero has only date terrible women in the past and finally find the one.

 

I continue to enjoy how matter-of-factly lecherous Veronica can be. She owns her sexual desire and has no shame in claiming her extensive sexual history. In this book I did love how she uses her flirtations with Stoker, to soothe or aggravate him depending on what he needs at the time and how she has come to realize that her feelings for him go well beyond wanting to shag him. The mystery however was quite dull and Veronica and Stoker spent too much spinning their wheels.


Loving the Secret Billionaire by Adriana Anders

Shirtless Man putting on a flannel shirtA scrappy pre-k teacher is a political underdog running against a slick incumbent.  She is doggedly trying to make a difference in her city, taking the bus to far flung neighborhoods to campaign after a full-day of work, when meets Zach Hubler. Zach's overgrown yard and dark house are not a likely prospect but it is the only house on the block without her opponent's sign in its yard.  Zach is charmed by Veronica and takes an interest in her campaign.

When better campaign materials and hordes of volunteers start circulating around town Veronica is baffled until a stray comment by one of her new supporters, prompts her to return to Zach's doorstep and learn who he is really is.

I enjoyed this novella but I am not quite sure what to make of depiction of blindness, While Zach is portrayed as being incredibly confident and independent, the way Veronica responded to his blindness, becoming hyper-aware of all the non-verbal communication she needs to verbalize or her wonder at his ease in navigating the world through the accommodations he has in place felt off and a little bit weird, like she has never previously interacted with a blind person.

"I couldn't nod at the little questions, couldn't play things off with a shrug. Conversation with this man involved commitment. It was frightening and refreshing."

But despite side-eyeing that I really enjoyed Zach and Veronica's backwards and text-filled courtship, it was delightfully awkward and hesitant as Veronica struggles against her curiosity and chemistry with Zach and the certainty that he is being less than honest with her.  I loved how Zach's inexperience challenged Veronica to be more assertive and explicit in her requests and desires, unable to rely on him knowing what should be done.

The reasons Zach is so reclusive and secretive are mercifully not directly tied to his blindness but we don't have much more explanation for it. The book is centered on Veronica and on her race for City Council and how Veronica responds after Zach's intervention radically altered the City Council's dynamics on her behalf.

This novella first appeared as a short story, titled Grassroots in the first of the Rogue Series of Anthologies, Rogue Desire. I enjoyed the story in both its forms, and the romance is not substantially altered as most of the expanded word count goes to develop that campaign plotline a little further and to introducing Veronica's best-friend and campaign manager, O'Neal Jones, who is the heroine of the follow-up novella "Loving the Wounded Warrior" . If you missed Rogue Desires, and are a fan of Anders' Blank Canvas stories, and you enjoy underdog stories or love virgin heroes, check out Loving the Secret Billionaire.

 

I received an ARC of both "Rogue Desire" and "Loving the Secret Billionaire" for review consideration.


The Love Coupon by Ainslie Paton (Stubborn Hearts 2)

36456623Tom's best-friend and roommate has accepted a promotion and left town and he has left behind an empty room and a big hole in Tom's life.  The thought of finding a roommate as easy to live with as Josh while he waits for his own promotion and salary bump fills Tom with dread but it is a necessary evil if he doesn't want to burn through his savings. He is sure however he doesn't want Flick as a roommate.  She is just too much, too bright, too energetic, too loud, too everything and he knows it will never work.

Flick needs a place to stay, just for 3 months before she heads to Washington and the dream job she has been working towards all of her life. Tom has the room, and she gets things done, even if its maneuvering a big mountain of a man into renting her the room, after all she sells ideas for a living.

This odd couple start out their weeks as roommates doing their best not to run into each other but it doesn't last and soon they are aggravating each other just like they expected too, only Tom does seem to protest too much, especially as the more Flick teases the more he finds himself wanting to kiss her.

 I really enjoyed this banter-filled story. Flick and Tom spark in all the right ways but it isn't just a romp. Both Flick and Tom have some serious baggage from their childhoods (Tom had a distant demanding father and Flick's family is hugely dysfunctional and she is walloped by grief when a dear friend gets to some terrible news).  Master communicators, Flick and Tom excel as misdirection and distraction, doing their best to sound like they have it all together when they absolutely don't. The coupons which may sound gimmicky make total sense in story as these struggle to make sort out their feelings and choices as the deadline of Flick's departure draws ever closer.

Chicago-area residents like @jenreadsromance are right to point the one thing that didn't work in this story, Tom's love of hiking. He frequently goes away to hike, off to the mountains, but there just aren't any real good options for doing that in Chicago.  Mentally I relocated them to Denver and moved because geographical realities aside, I was totally sucked in by this sexy and emotional romance. .The choices made by Flick and Tom made sense to me and I felt they really saw each other and the ending was absolutely satisfying. 

 

 

    


Pretending He's Mine by Mia Sosa

Pretending He's Mine by Mia Sosa Promo Graphic 2I beta read for Mia Sosa so this is not a formal review. Instead I am just coming on here to remind you that Pretending He's Mine is out today. It is the second book in Sosa's Love on Cue series. I had a chance to read it months ago, and now it is your chance!

Julian Hart became an agent to help his best-friend  negotiate the shark-filled Hollywood waters. He has done his best to represent Carter and help him advance his career but it has been a difficult journey balancing being there as friend for Carter and giving him the advice he needs but might not like to hear. But their friendship has never been tested like this before.

Ashley Williamson has long lived in her brother's Carter's shadow. While he reached for stardom since childhood, Ashley had forged a different path, exploring careers, relationships, cities, looking for the right fit, the only constant in her life, her guitar. When she find herself temporarily homeless, she asks Julian if she can move in, till she has the time to find a new roommate.  Her request is not so innocent in that Ashley would love temp Julian into a less friendly/brotherly relationship into that includes sex, but she knows he won't risk his friendship and career with Carter for anything like that, or will he?

51qO-ZAMi6LIf you are fan of fake relationships that don't stay fake & best-friend's little sister is a tropes and a story about two people who dare takes risks that might upend their lives, you might enjoy Julian and Ashley's story, plus if you read Acting on Impulse, you will get to enjoy the seeing Carter and Tori try to outsmart the paparazzi  and orchestrate a secret wedding!  

 

Scroll down below for sexy excerpt from Pretending He's Mine:

 

 

PRETENDING HE’S MINE by Mia Sosa

From Chapter Seven

The next morning, my doubts return, and I chuckle at my naïveté. Because why, oh why is the simple act of making breakfast together a challenge, too?

It’s not my fault, really. Several factors are conspiring against me.

The first? Biceps porn. Holy shit, it’s a thing. When he lifts the pan from the stove, his biceps flex like thick rubber bands. If he were to hold himself above me during sex, I’d see them at close range. Up, down, swivel, and repeat.

The second factor? That apron looks fucking glorious on him. The strings are tied snugly around his trim waist, which emphasizes the nearly perfect V formed by his broad chest and shoulders. Damn, it’s hot as hell in here. I fan myself, but it doesn’t help. So when I’m sure he’s not looking, I grab the mister off the counter and spritz my face.

He catches the sound, though, and draws back. “Jesus. Did you just spray yourself with that?”

“Yeah. Why?” I pull on the collar of my T-shirt to let in some air.

He snickers, his eyes gleaming with amusement. “Ashley, that’s olive oil. You need to wipe that off.”

Great. My cheeks are on fire, and now that there’s oil on them, I just might be the first human cooking surface in existence. Swallow me whole, Mother Earth.

Shaking his head at my gaffe, he preps the waffle mix while I use a paper towel to clean myself. I should use a cleanser or something, but I don’t want to miss the biceps porn—or the apron porn for that matter. Besides, olive oil must be good for the skin.

“No blueberries, right?” he asks.

“You remember.”

“Yeah. And I remember you love strawberries, but I’m not putting them in my waffle maker. I’ll toss them on top.”

“Fine with me.”

I squeeze my fists at my sides when I discover there’s more porn. Whisk porn. He’s got a mixing bowl in one hand and a whisk in the other, and he’s beating that waffle mix like he’s its daddy.

He looks up and finds me staring at him. “Everything okay?”

I nod like a human bobblehead. “Mm-hmm.”

He transfers the mix to a measuring cup and pours the batter into the waffle maker. Then he flips it over. Oooh, it’s a double waffle maker. Fancy. Unaware that he’s the new host of my personal cooking show on the Julian Channel, he bends at the waist and wipes the metal plate with a kitchen towel, giving me a DVR-worthy view of his butt. His Nielsen ratings would go into the stratosphere every time he made that move.

“Can you wash the strawberries?” he asks.

Sure, no problem. That ass is going to get someone arrested one day.

“Ash?”

Julian’s voice snatches me out of my happy place. “What?”

“The strawberries. Can you wash them?”

I shake my head and push out my lower lip. “Didn’t you hear me? I said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ ”

He laughs. “In your mind, maybe, but not out loud.”

“Sorry. Watching you cook requires my full attention. You’re so precise, and there are so many steps.” I retrieve the strawberries from the fridge and rinse them in the sink. How do I get these thoughts out of my head? What can I do to stop myself from wanting him? I should probably confiscate his apron. That would be a good place to start.

Beside me, Julian wipes down the counter. When he’s done, he bumps me with his hip and reaches for a clean strawberry, breaching my personal space to get to it. I try to bump him back, but he blocks me with his body, lifts the fruit over his head, and drops everything except the crown into his mouth.

The moment he bites into it, I sway on my feet. When he slides his tongue over his bottom lip to catch the juices, I swoon. Screw you, Julian. Screw you. But not really. What I really mean is, screw me, Julian. screw me.

From PRETENDING HE’S MINE. Used with permission of Avon Impulse. Copyright © 2018 by Mia Sosa.

 

Mia SosaABOUT MIA SOSA

Mia Sosa was born and raised in New York City. She attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and met her own romance hero (spoiler alert: she married him). Mia once dreamed of being a professional singer, but practical considerations (read: the need to generate income) led her to take the law school admissions test instead.

 

A graduate of Yale Law School, Mia practiced First Amendment and media law in the nation’s capital for ten years before returning to her creative roots. Now she spends most of her days writing contemporary romances about smart women and the complicated men who love them. Mia lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters and will forever be on the hunt for the perfect karaoke bar.




AUTHOR LINKS

Website https://www.miasosa.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/miasosa.author
Twitter https://twitter.com/miasosaromance
Goodreads https://goo.gl/nTBnoa
Amazon http://amzn.to/2olGP6D


Who should you try? Some of my favorite WOC authors:

Last year I wrote a post breaking down the RITA finalists list against the books I happened to read the year before (2017) and looking at the list to see which books were in my TBR in order to move them up before the annual ceremony in July.  This year when the list was announced there were a few first time finalists that made me super happy (Congratulations, Alexis Daria and Priscilla Oliveras & KJ Charles) but there were so many fabulous books especially by Authors of Color that didn't final this year that at the end of day, I didn't feel a great RITA bounce.

This past month and half has been rough in Romancelandia. First were the waves of revelations of abuse and harassment in m/m, that affected a lot of readers and writers I read, then the RITAs announcement day came and went, and it just highlighted how segregated Romancelandia can be. Since then Black authors have been sharing incredibly painful stories of exclusion.  These stories are not new, but hopefully more people will hear them this time around.

At the same time my friend Jen (@jenreadsromance) had started work on website full of romance novel recommendations: https://www.jenreadsromance.com/, a place where a reader could find starter romances in many of romance's rich sub-genres. She is intentionally working on creating an inclusive list that is searchable by theme and time period. It is something I wish I had stumbled upon when I was first starting. I started by exploring my library's ebook collection first and that collection was mostly white, assembled by purchasing from the RITA finalists lists.

Eventually I left that mostly-white corner of Romancelandia behind, but not before I had developed the mistaken notion that African American and other POC simply didn't write the books I was looking for.  Instead I accepted the crumbs of having white writers who would very occasionally throw in a token or stereotypical CoC into their books, when looking for characters like me.  While I was growing bored, restless and increasingly angry with these book and I kept saying I wish, someone would write X but with POC. It took me a ridiculously long time to realize I was the problem because I was the one limiting myself. The problem wasn't that no one was writing that, it was that I wasn't looking at what POC writers were doing. The books were out there waiting for me, but I didn't know where to find them or who to ask. That was no one's problem but my own.  I had to change how I discovered books.  Some of it was organic, as I got more involved in Romancelandia, I met more PoC readers, as I followed them, I became exposed to authors and books I hadn't encountered before.  

As I moved into reviewing I became more intentional about reading outside the narrow corner of Romancelandia I had first landed in.  Some of it was unintentional, because I am not a big blog, I didn't just depend on what I saw available in Netgalley or Edelweiss, several authors that have grown into favorites approached me, sending in a review request . I am not going to pretend that my blog is this diverse wonderland but being willing to review what I buy for myself and accepting author pitches has certainly exposed me to tons of authors I would have never reviewed otherwise.

This week  has reminded how other folks might end up just not knowing about great books and great authors of color because no one in their immediate circle talks about them. I might think everyone knows who Farrah Rochon or Alisha Rai  or Beverly Jenkins is but honestly too many people don't. They might not see their books in  bookstores, they might not see them listed as read-a-likes.  Ask me how weird it was to walk into a B&N last year and have to hunt around to find just a couple of non-white authors on the shelves. So many of my faves were missing and it was a wake-up call about just how much further we need to go as industry to be inclusive despite how affirming my own twitter TL might be.

I can't fix the whole industry or those who don't actually want to read awesome books but I can talk about some of fantastic authors of color publishing right now. It is not a hardship to come up with fabulous Authors of Color to recommend, it is a hardship to stop.

 

 So who should you try? If you follow this blog the names I mention here should not surprise you. But if this is your first visit here:

 These are some of my favorites:

C1rYF-xYAVS._SL250_FMpng_Farrah Rochon (Contemporary & Sports Romance):  Rochon writes contemporary romance set in the south.  Most of her books take place in small town and cities not far from New Orleans. My favorite is her Moments in Maplesville Series, they are about people seeing their towns grown and change, worrying about big box stores moving in and whether they should move to bigger cities for better opportunities. The first book in The Moments in Maplesville series (which can be read as standalones),A Perfect Holiday Fling is about temporary single dad (his widowed sister is deployed overseas, so the former naval pilot moves in to take care of his nephew) and the recently divorce veterinarian he meets when they discover an abandoned cat. 

    She also wrote sports romance for Kimani, so if you are looking for football romance that are not improbably all-white check those out. She is a huge Broadway fan, so I hope one days she gives us Broadway-set romance. 

Alisharai Forbidden Heart coversAlisha Rai(Contemporary & Erotic Romance) has been on my favorite author list for a long time. I read and enjoyed a lot of her erotic romances, Serving Pleasure & Gentleman in the Street but I have adored her Forbidden Hearts series for Avon (Reviews for Hate to Want You, Wrong to Need You,  Hurts to Love You.) She tackles huge themes, creates a fantastic family saga that takes three books to resolve and left me wanting more while doing an amazing job portraying the many faces of anxiety and depression.  These people are complicated and fascinating and I loved them. So if you like angsty romance novels where lots of tropes are subverted and upended in swoony ways, check Alisha Rai's books out.

Clean breaks, a couple lays on a picnic blanket.Ruby Lang (Contemporary) writes smart, funny contemporary romances with strong female friendships and prickly heroines. I've liked each book in her Practice Perfect series better than the one before and I quite liked the first, Acute Reactions.  I loved Hard Knocks, book 2 and suddenly I got her, then Clean Breaks, and now Lang is one of those authors, I auto-buy. Most recently I simply adored her story in Rogue Acts, The Long Run.

So-sweet2-200x300Rebekah Weatherspoon's (Contemporary, Erotic Romance & PNR) Beards and Bondage series books Haven and Sanctuary start off with a bang, each of these RS-tinged contemporary romances feature the heroine surviving attempts on their lives. The openings are intense and gripping and immediately caught my attention but the meat of the books are these strong black women falling for big gruff mean that are secret marshmallows and are people they can lean and depend on.  I also really enjoyed her Sugar Baby series of novellas about a woman, Kayla, desperately trying to make ends meet, whose roommate convinces her to Sugar Daddy mixer event, in hopes of finding someone who will be happy to help pay some of her bills in exchange for a little companionship. Totally miserable at the event, she tries to hide out in side room and ends up meeting the organizer of the event, and they have to figure out how to negotiate a real relationship. This is not a trope that typically appeals to me but this series was delightful, and Kayla and Michael are adorable and I loved spending time with them as they figured out their HEA.

6a00e54ee394bf883301b7c8bf9c92970b-120wiDo you enjoy geeky heroes and heroines or raunchy stories of sexy revenge?  Well Melissa Blue/Dakota Gray writes them both! (Contemporary & Erotic Romance)  In early 2016, I read Under His Kilt, about co-workers who have fling and I ended up searching out the rest of her backlist and it so worth reading.  I  have to admit to hesitating in trying Perv when a few people on my TL started recommending it, I didn't know at the time that Dakota Gray was another pen name for Melissa Blue, and I was frankly put off my the hero's aggressive cockiness in the blurb. But I finally gave in after a good friend whose recs I trusted raved. It so fun. I am heroine-centric reader and I adored the heroine, Robyn, she is not here for the hero's shit, she is hero to teach him a lesson and it all gets very sexy and complicated.

D1wYve0bxCS._SY135_Priscilla Oliveras (Closed-door Contemporary Romance) RITA nominated debut, His Perfect Partner and its newly released follow-up Her Perfect Affair should be on your TBR if you want to read emotional romances, centered on sisterhood and family. It was such a joy to read a heroines who shared so much with me, who respond in such believable ways. These stories might be closed door but they don't lack in tension and sexiness. I am really looking forward to the third book, coming out later this year.

51qO-ZAMi6L Y648Mia Sosa writes great tropey Contemporary romances. I have really enjoyed her Love on Cue series for Avon Impulse. In the first two books she has mashed a lots of great tropes ( secret identity, vacation fling, best-friend's little sister, fake relationship) and combined them with great premises and an interesting and diverse cast of supporting characters to create highly-enjoyable romances.

Acting on Impulse features an Afro-Puerto Rican fitness trainer who has just gotten dumped on the radio by her politician boyfriend and decides to jet off for an island getaway. On the plane she meets Carter Williamson, a television star traveling incognito to an island resort after a grueling film schedule. Carter tries to make a play for Tori knowing she doesn't recognize him and when she finds out she is not happy and she puts him through his paces before she lets him into her heart.

Sosa has a new book coming out next week, Pretending He's Mine that I was lucky enough to read early (I have been beta reading for Mia for a couple of years) featuring Carter's agent and best friend Julian and Carter's little sister Ashley.

516WEHK17LL Princessintheory-hires RsAlyssa Cole has rightly has gained a lot praise for her excellent historical romances, some of my favorites are An Extraordinary Union, Let it Shine and Let us Dream and she also has fantastic new series of royal themed contemporary romances, Reluctant Royals, on the go right now, but the first series I read from Alyssa was the first book in  dystopian series, Off the Grid, Radio Silence.  That just shows you a little of the range of stories Cole is able to tell. What all those stories have in common of fantastic engaging heroines, who are bright, determined and ready to kickass.

A-Study-In-Scarlet-Women-350x525I have been reading Sherry Thomas (Historical Fiction, Mystery with Romantic Elements, Fantasy and Contemporary Fiction) for a long time. Remember that mostly-white collection of RITA finalists stuffed ebooks collection I mentioned in the intro? In it was Sherry Thomas so as a result I had the opportunity to read a lot of her historical fiction. I am huge fan of her current mystery-with-romantic elements series, Lady Sherlock. Her prose is beautiful and I adore the moral dilemmas and complications they have tackle. I really enjoyed her story in the Sight Unseen anthology which was the galactic romantic myth "The Heart is a Universe", that reminded I really need to get around to reading her Burning Sky series sometime soon.

This is just a smattering of fantastic Authors of Color. There are so many more, some with huge fan bases and others with smaller followings, I hope you find someone on this list to try.  

 

Update 4/6/2018:  I have been asked if I have some more historical romance authors to recommend

 

C1tEZX44+-S._SL250_FMpng_Courtney Milan writes really fantastic UK and American set historical romances. My absolute favorite of hers is The Countess Conspiracy, a fantastic friends to lovers story. The whole Brothers Sinister series excels at showcasing how sexy and romantic affirmative consent is. Start with the Governess Affair  and don't forget to pick up the novellas, like Talk Sweetly to Me with its fantastic black British heroine (There is a bundle that has all of them!). 

4138IRy-ZYL._SL500_SX145_Piper Huguley. I loved Piper's story in The Brightest Day Anthology a collection of beautiful historical romances by African American authors, like Lena Hart, Kianna Alexander and Alyssa Cole.  Her story there is connected to her Migrations of the Heart Series. Many of stories her stories include a strong spiritual/religious elements without being preachy, just powerful.

51TFTz2KV0L._SY346_ 513A-UBIcmL 51UqNwUj8xLBeverly Jenkins is the Slayer of Words and amazing mentor to
the current generation
 of African American historical and contemporary authors.  Her love for research and her ability to teach history through her writing is unparalleled.  The first book of hers that I read was Forbidden just blew me away. And I have loved the rest of the series that has followed, Breathless and Tempest .

51ofF1WqwOLLydia San Andres is Dominican author writing historical fiction set in the Spanish Caribbean. I really enjoyed her "Infamous Miss Rodriguez" in which a young woman trapped in engagement she does not want tries to make herself scandalous and the man tasked with saving her reputation ends up falling for her instead.  

51S44mYlkbL 51zPfcpXrTL._SY346_Jeannie Lin's Chinese Tang-Dynasty set historical mystery romance series, The Lotus Palace and the  Jade Temptress helped break me out a historical genre slump back in 2014. These stories are beautiful, suspenseful and absolutely worth your time. Also if you are a fan of steampunk make sure you don't miss Gunpowder Alchemy and the Gunpowder Chronicles series as they are one my favorite alternate history romances.

and two more recs!

These two authors are on my TBR but I haven't yet read their books but they come highly recommended and might be perfect for those looking for AOC written historical set in the UK:

  51kcbtyjaWL

and

51xEK1xADkL 5130nVJfovL I picked her Riley's The Bittersweet Bride just last month because I love widowed heroines and second chance at love stories.

 


Her Perfect Affair by Priscilla Oliveras (Matched to Perfection 2)

Her Perfect AffairCoverReview:

 22. Her Perfect Affair by Priscilla Oliveras 3/27 Friends to Lovers with complications. Rosa & Jeremy’s night together was hot but AM awkwardness turns into regrets. Both have guilt/family issues to sort out before they get on the same page. Really lovely rom. #bkbrk #rombklove

— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) March 8, 2018

Rosa is a school librarian at the suburban-Chicago-area Catholic high school she attended as teenager and she is the Fernandez sister most invested in being the "good-girl". As a teenager she made a bad decision that haunts her to this day and that mistake makes her hyper-cautious.  But at her older sister Yazmine's wedding, she lets loose a little. After all her planning and stress, the wedding has gone off without a hitch, so she lets Jeremy, her sister's good friend who she had developed a crush on, talk her into a dance & champagne.  Having more fun than she has had in ages, Rosa doesn't want the night to end and invites Jeremy up to her room.

Two months after an awkward morning after,and embarrassment fueled brush-off by Rosa, Jeremy is happy to hear from her again, hoping that they might recover and sort things out, and maybe give dating a try. He isn't however expecting to learn that is the reason Rosa has sought him out again is that she is pregnant.  He has lots of emotional baggage about his birth-father, his absence and presence in his life and his desire to never let his adoptive father down that Rosa's news rock him to core.

The conflict in this book was so wrenching.  Rosa is having a difficult pregnancy, facing the possibility that she might lose the job she loves, so it is just so tempting to not fight Jeremy, to accept his proposal and his help, but she just can't say yes, not for any reason other than love. She sometimes draws lines in the sand that seem harsh because she is worried about caving and Jeremy pushes too hard because he is just so scared.   

I really loved how Rosa isn't willing to let them skip steps just because it would make things simpler, especially when she doesn't understand why Jeremy is pushing so hard.  Oliveras does a fantastic job depicting Rosa's close-knit middle-class Puerto Rican family and how it contrasts with Jeremy's loving but much more formal and wealthy family.  The little details of how the sisters interact were familiar, especially with how they relate to their godmother, exasperation and appreciation of her fierce love for them, sharply felt in the absence of their parents.

As someone who has been a librarian in a private Christian school, I thought Oliveras depiction of Rosa's work environment believable and her tension about how things could play out, very realistic.

My favorite part of this romance is how Jeremy and Rosa have to resolve their own drama around their families and careers even as they sort out their feeling for each other. Oliveras doesn't divorce these conflicts from each other, but they are not conflicts that are resolved in one simple encounter or conversation rather it was organic and messy and incredibly charming. 

I am eager to read Lili's story and I hope that with Oliveras' RITA nomination and the special sale price, folks take the leap and try out His Perfect Partner too, although Her Perfect Affair stands alone perfectly.

I received a copy of Her Perfect Affair from the publisher, Kensington for review consideration. 

I don't usually participate in blog tours but I do occasionally make exceptions for a very small group for books that I feel strongly about. I had already read a copy Her Perfect Affair before I was approached to host and I was happy I could agree to do so wholeheartedly.  Below you will find links to a Rafflecopter Giveway hosted by Oliveras's blog tour company along with an excerpt from Her Perfect Affair and blurbs for the first two books of the Matched to Perfection series.

 

The official blurb:

About Her Perfect Affair: 

 The Fernandez sisters have always had big dreams, and the talent and drive to pursue them. And in this sunny, spicy new series, each one will discover that success is that much sweeter when love follows . . .

Rosa Fernandez doesn’t act on impulse—she’s the responsible one, planning her career with precision, finally landing a job as the librarian at conservative Queen of Peace Academy, confining her strongest emotions to her secret poetry journal. But she’s been harboring a secret crush on dreamy Jeremy Taylor, and after one dance with him at her sister’s wedding, Rosa longs to let loose for the first time. She deserves some fun, after all. So what if she doesn’t have a shot with Jeremy, not with his wealthy pedigree and high profile lifestyle. But one dance leads to one kiss, and soon Rosa is head-over-heels . . .

The adopted son of a prominent Chicago lawyer, Jeremy has a lot to live up to—especially with his birth father in prison—the perfect example of a bad example. With a big promotion and a move to Japan in the works, Jeremy is worlds away from settling down. But sweet, steady Rosa is a temptation he doesn’t want to deny himself, at least for now. Yet when their simple fling turns complicated, everything they’ve both worked for is threatened—except the red-hot intimacy they’ve found together. Can forever really grow from just-for-now?

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads

Available at:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

 

 

Rafflecopter for Her Perfect Affair Blitz Giveaway:

Priscilla is offering one (1) lucky Grand Prize winner a prize pack containing a $50 Amazon Gift Card, an XL shirt featuring the book cover, a Spanish fan with Priscilla’s website, and a coffee mug and coaster with Priscilla’s logo. Two (2) Runner-Up winners will receive an eCopy of His Perfect Partner (Matched to Perfection #1)! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Continue reading "Her Perfect Affair by Priscilla Oliveras (Matched to Perfection 2)" »


Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai (Forbidden Hearts 3)

51qpKkQE1tL

I had this book on my e-reader for a month before I let myself read it, not because I wasn't looking forward to it but because this series has been fantastic and I really wasn't ready to say goodbye to the Chandlers and Oka-Kanes.  I came to this book full of questions and theories and Rai surprised and pleased me at every turn.

"Have you ever wanted something you couldn't have? Her heart thudded. It was like he'd peeked inside her soul and found the one sentence that described her life.

 She has the money to buy everything, but the things she wanted couldn't be bought" 

Eve Chandler was just a girl when her look-alike mother died in a suspicious accident along with Robert Kane, Livy, Paul & Jackson's father, and the extended family she knew disintegrated under the weight of grief, suspicion and animosity. Trapped at home with an bully of a father, she closed herself emotionally, putting on her best face in public while starving emotionally inside. Inspired by her brother's reconciliation with his long-time love Livy against their father, Brendan's wishes, Eve finally starts making changes in her life, ones she has longed sought to make but feared to because it would make her father notice her, like leaving her cozy position at her mother's charity to strike out on her own.

One of those rebellious choices has her researching a possible business venture by secretly picking up passengers for a ride-sharing service. Unknowingly Gabe, her future's sister-in-law's boss and close friend, has become one of her most regular customers. She hides in her over-sized hoodies, muffles her voice and pretends to be a stranger while ferrying him home after nights at the bar.  She knows how incredibly fucked up it is that she lives for the nights she arranges to be there waiting to be his ride home, but she can't stop doing it.

Gabriel Hunter has lived with secrets all his life and the weight of them get heavier and heavier each year. The heaviest right now is how much he wants Eve, yet he knows he doesn't dare cross that line. He grew the adopted son of a cook in the Kane, home. He shared much growing up alongside the Kane kids, but Eve is a Chandler and there is just too much baggage and history tying together their families, never mind a dozen years of age difference to makes it all seem like an incredibly bad idea. But when one by one members of the Kane & Chandler wedding party end up ill or delayed and Gabriel and Eve end up alone in a isolated vacation house, all those very good reasons just seem a lot less important in the face of sly smiles, tempting bathing suits and her vulnerability . While the sex is scorching hot, what killed me was the longing, the furtive hand-grazing, and all the little touches of support and affection that they share before they are ready to let anyone know how they feel about each other, including themselves.

In this series Rai gave us a highly-emotional, piercing story of a family whose secrets, nearly tore them all apart and the courage it took to rebuild it.  

No one in these books made it all the right choices, they are not perfect and I rooted for them to find happiness despite family history & dark emotional shadows. Rai's characters are so rich and layered. I loved learning their secrets and seeing them reach for a brighter future, full of love and acceptance. They will have lives full or highs and lows, times of melancholy and anxiety but they will have people who love them, holding their hands each step of the way.

I am not quite ready to let go of this family,  but I am hopeful we will see some of these characters again, either in the form of a series following Sadia's little sisters to Gabe's tech-mogul sister. 

I received a copy of Hurts to Love You from the publisher for review consideration. It available at all the usual retailers, starting today.