Mini-reviews: February 2022

14 & 15. Last to Die & As Good as Dead by Beverly Barton (mystery/thriller with romantic elements, fatphobia, slut-shaming, racial slurs).  So much rape, but I was invested in Genny, Recs & Jazzy’s survival so I kept at it. Need a sweet palate cleanser (violence, murder, rape). 2/5/22

16. Hawaii Magic by Beverly Jenkins ( contp/survival novella , BM/BW, lawyer/pilot) Workaholic Anita is forced into a Hawaiian vacation which starts with her fiancée dumping her via text!  Can she relax & have fun with a cocky ex-marine ? (Cw: toxic parent, crash)  loved it! 2/5/22

16b. One Masked Night by Beverly Jenkins (cont/novella, arson investigator/ATF agent, one anonymous night). This was super sexy and sweet. Loved Eve & Leyton’s flirtations and overcoming their walls. (Cw: arson).  Fabulous love Ms.Bev’s Detroit novellas. 2/5/22 

 

17. You Sang to Me by Beverly Jenkins (BM/BW, cynical hotel maid/record producer, musical Cinderella) loved. Loved Regina, her strength, her sense of justice and her loyalty and Jamal is just gone for her! 2/6/22

 

18. I'll be Home for Christmas by Beverly Jenkins (BM/BW, celebrity chef/Broadway star, 2nd chance, past infidelity, neighbors, public proposal)  Morgan has grown up, and made changes, but Dina needs think hard before giving him a 2nd chance. 2/7/22

 

19. Dead by Midnight by Beverly Barton (m/f, suspense with romantic elements, 2nd chance) A decade old bit part in a p rn flick makes Lori a target for serial killer. Mike her old beau needs to keep her safe Cw: slut-shaming, murder of sex workers, did i mention the slut-shaming? 2/12/22

 

20. Dead by Morning by Beverly Barton (wm/ww, suspense with romantic elements, oil/water, toxic parents). A copy-cat serial killer targeting Powell agents. Derek and Maleah race against time to figure out why. cw: murder, gore). 2/16/22

 

21. Dead by Nightfall by Beverly Barton (wm/ww, suspense with romantic elements)  Griff's secrets haunt his relationship with Nic and a dead man kidnaps her.   Cw: human trafficking, rape, murder, hunting of humans). 2/16/22

 

22. Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham (wm/ww, suspense with Rom Elem. Both MC are Law Enforcement) FBI/FLDE agents hunt down a cult killing women. Really like Amy & Hunter's dynamic. ( Cw: human trafficking, cults, ritual sacrifice, misogyny, abduction, violence, guns. ) 2/18/22

 

23. Phantom Evil (biracial Cherokee M/WM,  paranormal investigators, 1st in series, set in New Orleans) ghosts & skeptics, x-files vibes with political intrigue. ( Cw: human trafficking, murder, suicide). 2/19/22

 

24. Hideaway by Nora Roberts (WM/WW, family saga with Romance, toxic parent, trauma)  I skimmed a lot of this because I didn’t expect 3/4 of the book to be set-up/growing up. Once I settled on it being a slow-roll I enjoyed the characters (Cw: murder, abduction, guns). 2/23/22

 

25. The Unknown by Heather Graham ( WM/WW, they both see ghosts, PNR RS) unraveling a ten year mystery and stopping a firebug in NOLA. CW: murder, guns, betrayal. 2/25/22

 

26. Seeing Darkness by Heather Graham (WM/WW, PNR/RS, Salem, serial killer). Kylie’s hypnosis session doesn’t go as planned…she witness a murder!  Jon is the Krewe FBI agent on the hunt, they team up! Cw: murder, guns, knives, child endangerment 2/25/22

 

27. Bound to Fall by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, detective/pro climber). Jaded and extremely buttoned up,  Darius is disarmed by Sasha’s openness, when he comes to Scarlet to find who tried to kill her.  Cw: guns, violence, betrayal, past trauma: sexual harassment, grief. 2/26/22

 

28. Deadly Touch by Heather Graham (Native American M/WW, Everglades, PNR/RS) A newly discovered psych gift unravels a decades old series of bodies  dumped in the Everglades. Cw: murder, guns, knives, abduction, betrayal. 2/28/22

 

 

 


2022 mini-reviews! January

1. Heir of the Dog by Hailey Edwards (UF/Fantasy, White Woman-half-fae lead)  Starting the year how I ended the last...reading the Black Dog Series...continues to pick up in the middle of things but I've really gotten to like Thierry  CW: coercion, kidnapping, murder, violence 1/3/22

2. Lie Down with Dogs by Hailey Edwards (UF, 2nd chance, bm/ww) 

The threads are finally coming together and Thierry is making the right & hard choices even as twists and turns keep coming.  Intense action.

 

(Cw: kidnapping, violence, murder, betrayal, lies, drugged drink)  1/7/22

 

3. Old Dog, New Tricks by Hailey Edwards (UF, White Mc)

Thierry's adventures in Faerie draw to a close as something are torn asunder and others mended.  Intense action.

 

(Cw: violence, blood) 1/7/22

 

4. Stone Cold Fox (AM/WW, novella, fated mates, cosplsy). 

 

I was loving this until the fatphobia when Mai wallows in her feelings and  eat them and she and others make this out to be the worst. 

 

(Cw: abduction, imprisonment, controlling father, mind wipe, fatphobia) 1/7/22

 

5. Crashsite by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, 2nd chance, duology, RS)  Fiona & Dean get their happy ending after enduring tons while surprisingly reconnecting on tropical job that is not what it appears ( Cw: violence, murder, betrayal, drugs, jealousy, kidnapping, coercion) . 1/9/22

 

6. Thrown to the Wolves by Hailey Edwards (Short story collection, WM/AW, Older WW/ younger WM, BM/WW, WW/WW)  The stories range from unexpected matings after loss or trauma to vignettes showcasing former leads.  Cw: kidnapping, murder, blood, child in peril. 1/10/22

 

7. Promise the Moon by Hailey Edwards (WW/WM, UF, love triangle, 2nd chance, past trauma, war) I totally picked the wrong LI to root for and Dell is in over her head. CW: kidnapping, blood, children in peril, war, past trauma, toxic parent. 1/12/22

 

8 & 9 Wolf at the Door & Over the Moon by Hailey Edwards (WM/WW). Just a big eh for me. The bests of the books were Cam & Greason’s. The rest didn’t work as well for me. Cw: war, murder, gore, past trauma. 1/17/22

 

10. Farewell to Arms by Molly Harper (WM/WW, PNR, found family, toxic families) 

 

So sad this is the last Mystic Bayou book.  Loved this series and loved how the series accepts that all relationships can be restored and building new ones is freeing. Cw: stalking, kidnapping 1/23/22

 

11. Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison ( Fantasy/noir, Male MC)  Meandering and complex mystery with a fascinating unusual guilt ridden prelate, who can experience the last thoughts of the dead.  Justice for the dead is messy and sometimes ugly. (Cw: murder, suicide) 1/23/22

 

12. The Fifth Victim by Beverly Barton (Suspense with Romantic elements.,WM/WW with Cherokee ancestors).  Serial killer killing young women is being tracked by the uncle of one the victims who is drawn against reason to a gifted woman whose sight makes her a target. 1/28/22

13. Against a Wall by Cate C Wells ( WM/WW, bully, grumpy/sunshine, small town)  Cash has been the talks to much/smiles too much brother in the other books and in this book we learn his hidden obsession for a grumpy barista who ignores him. Cw: harassment, grief, guns, blood. 1/30/22

 

 

 


Mini Reviews 2021

1. Son of a Beach by Mia Sosa (m/f, black/latina, work rivals to lovers) Beta read of Audible original out in April.  I love Mia’s prickly heroines who are secretly super attracted to their work nemesis!  Short & fun with sequel bait.  (CWs: past parental loss, past betrayal).

2. Until the Sun Falls From the Sky by Kristen Ashley (m/f, white, PNR Saga).  After its promising OTT beginning, this book deeply disappointed. It lost all momentum in the 2nd half and was hugely anti-climactic. I mostly skimmed to the end. (CW: Non-con, dub-con, violence).

3. A lot like Adios by Alexis Daria (beta read, bi, m/f, 2nd chance, former BFFs) Great sexual tension/chemistry between old friends who need to forgive each other and deal with unresolved conflicts before they can see a future.

4. Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs (UF). 

This like most Briggs books is brutal, but totally engrossing.  Charles & Anna are deeply tested but endure. Bran & Leah wow! So much growth. 

(CW: ref to off-page rapes & incest, magical coercion, references to elder abuse, past pet death).

5. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs. (UF).  2nd audio in as many days!! Mercy absorbs so much trauma, but having read Wild Sign I need to go back and see the Hardisty Witches, Sherwood & Mercy in action as Coyote interferes. CWs: death, gore, violence, betrayals, A is republican.

6. Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs (Uf). I read a book with my eyes!! This book spends as much time in dreamscape as it does in the real world and it is deadly and hard to put Down. I need some short stories where they are happy!  (CW: suicidal ideation, trauma, self-hatred).

7. Shifting Shadows by P. Briggs (UF short stories). There were several stories in this I really loved, especially the outtakes, others not so much. I did like the ghost/vampire reunion romance. Cw: violence, racism, murder, gore, medical procedures, incarceration, SA, harassment

8. How to flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper (PNR-light, m/w)  I’m trying to ride my PNR mood out of my slump and this was funny, a little silly and just what I needed.  Dislike to love with family baggage on both sides. (CWs: attempted SA, violence).

9. Nice Werewolves don’t bite Vampires ( PNR-light) chafing under her controlling packs’s plans to match her when all she wants is a little quiet abs her own space, Tyleene find unexpected community & friendship with Half moon hollow vamps.  CWs: emotionally abusive family.

10. How to Seduce a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper (PNR-light)  romance reading arranged marriage avoiding alpha wolf Maggie falls for bespectacled nerdy hero, searching for proof that werewolves exist.  So absolutely the wrong person but just perfect.  (CWs: stalker, feuds).

11.  How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper (PNR-light) Abused wife in hiding is back on the run after her secret identity is compromised and she run right into a bounty-hunting werewolf who doesn’t want her to run.(CWs:abuse,violence, abductions).

12. The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper.  (PNR m/w). Still binging light PNR and really liked this one so much more now. I DNFed the first time around due to wrong mood. (CWs: threats of SA, graphic violence, blood, medical procedures).

13. Peace, Blood and Understanding (PNR, m/w, hate to love, found family)Meadow’s HEA includes finally cutting out her harmful family from her life and honestly not enough books do that. CWs: violence, betrayal, past trauma: parental abuse.

14. Beta Read of Latinx Author’s novella.  I love some good Latinx brujeria!

15. A witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses (WF with rom elements, m/w) UGH I didn’t like this one.  The romance was in background for half the book and then rushed in the last half.  And sort of boring. Read it for chronology reason (CWs: violence, family betrayal, secrets).

16. The Dangers of Dating a Rebound vampire By Molly Harper (PNR, m/w, age difference, forbidden) a riff on Twilight needs to be funny & not boring. this book had too much random plot and too little character development, skimmed to the end. Gigi deserved better. (CWs: stalker)

17. Single Undead Mom’s Club by Molly Harper (PNR, found family versus toxic family) 

 

After a couple that didn’t work for me, this one did again. Over the top antic but grounded by Libby’s desire to be there for her son. (CWs: toxic family, abandonment, violence, stalking).

18. Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper. (WM/WW, PNR, anti-hero, anxiety rep) a book delivery goes terribly wrong. Charming rogue and a bookworm survive the woods & killer shifters.  (CWs: Mental possession)


19. Accidental Sire by Molly Harper (Guatemalan-American  W/WM PNR, worst end to a meet-cute, found family).   I really liked this one, love prickly wounded heroines and Ben gets swoony. (CWs: abductions, non-consensual medical procedures)

20. Fangs for the Memories by Molly Harper (WM/WW, PNR, caretaking rogue) Dick is there when Andrea needs him most (CWs: family estrangement, grief, near-death experience).

21. Big Vamps on Campus  by Molly Harper (WM/WW) Harper actually made me care for the amoral & devious Ophelia as she grows up a little and starts carrying a bit more for those around her. (CWs: violence, blood)


22. Forever Strong by Piper J Drake (BM/AW, Thai American author)  Ying Yue and Zu’s attraction is amped up by the danger that puts them together but as she recovers her agency she also makes choices for their HEA. Fun lots of dogs! CWs: violence, abduction

23. Extreme Honor by Piper J Drake (WM/WW, Thai American author, RS) David is helping to rehabilitate Atlas but also hoping to discover why his handler was killed.  Lyn has the skills but also hidden complications.  CWs: violence, abduction, secret plot, familial baggage.

24. Ultimate Courage by Piper J Drake (Peruvian M/ WW, Thai American author, RS) Elise is on the run but Alex and Kennel guys offer her a place rest, work & security.  Hero always works to give her choices & consent. (CWs: PTSD, stalker, DV, gaslighting, violence)

25. Absolute Trust by Piper J Drake (WM/Korean American W, RS, 2nd chance, friends to lovers).  It takes a bomb to make Brandon see that he could lose Sophie at a moments notice and she wouldn’t know how much he still/always has loved her.  Cw: fun violence, secrets, abandonment

26. Total Bravery by Piper J Drake (WM/ Thai American W, RS, BFF’s little sister) Raul rescues Mali when she needs him & the attraction is undeniable, things get complicated when her sister comes back but she worries sis will break his ♥️ cws: human trafficking, gun violence.

27. Fierce Justice by Piper J Drake (WM/Thai American W, RS, instant connection) Arin stopped Jason in his tracks figuratively and literally and once they connect, they will never be the same, explosive even! (CW: guns, human trafficking, violence)  Series Binge complete!!!

28. Shifters in the Night by Molly Harper. (light-PNR, audio) empathic hind & former hermit Selkie find a way through misunderstandings.  Love this quirky town growing pains and all.  (CWs: stalker, hammer violence).

29. Red by Piper J Drake ( reissue of PNR ) A loner wolf & stubborn woman & an adoptive pack that needs to let Red chose her big bad Wolf. CW: hypoglycemia, violence)

30. One Fine Fae by Molly Harper ( light PNR, audio). A fae midwife falls for a fae-cursed human and must negotiate consent & mutual trust to break his spell ( CWs: magical childbirth, failed BC, office pettiness).

31. Junkyard Cats & 32. Junkyard Bargain by Faith Hunter.  UF audio original novellas m/w. Gritty, busy, violent and somewhat unsatisfying.   Cw: human trafficking, sex work, mentions of past rape/abuse, gun, gore & violence.

32. Charge by Cate C Wells (MC, wm/ww) Vulnerable single mom will do anything to keep her son, finds an unlikely champion. (cw: shitty father/stepmom, family betrayal, mentions of Post-partum depression, lack of family’s support, past trauma: rape, slut-shaming, victim-blaming)

33. Nickel’s Story by Cate C Wells (MC, wm/ww, therapy, stripper/enforcer) Nickel obsesses over Story from the wings, sure he would hurt her if he keys her close. Cw: violence, murder, past trauma: Domestic violence, sexual abuse

DNFed Scrap by Cate C Wells MC rom, he killed the man who hurt her and now he is back for her. (CWs: past sexual assault, murder, severe anxiety)

34.  Plum by Cate C Wells ( MC, wm/ww, stripper-millionaire) Plum does anything she needs to do to pay for her home, Adam knows all about that. He swallowed his pride & more for his place too. (CW: sex work, slut-shaming, violence Past trauma: abandonment, sexual abuse).

35. Wall by Cate C Wells ( wm/ww, marriage in trouble, depression) Wall let his wife and himself down when her post multiple miscarriage depression spirals, he got out but didn’t let go waiting on her.(CWs: past infidelity, multiple miscarriages, addiction, depression, violence).

36. Forty by Cate C Wells (wm/ww, 2nd chance,  depression, ptsd, adhd).   Forty has been angry at Neveah for a long time, but her betrayal 10yrs was not what he thought and he won’t let her be hurt again (CWs: DV, abduction, murder, past trauma: sexual abuse, traumatic accident)

37. Roosevelt by Cate C Wells (LM/ww, age gap).  Theo has wanted Carmen since he was a teen, tried to stand by her when her brother betrayed her, but she can’t face it, not until she almost loses him. (CWs: violence, medical procedures, familial betrayal).

38. The Crossover and 39. Rebound by Kwame Alexander. (novels in verse, MG/YA) How basketball, loss and friendship tie up a black family across generations. Beautiful, funny and moving. (CW: death of fathers, encounters with police, medical procedures).

40. Hitting the Wall by Cate C Wells (m/w, secret baby, contemporary).  The books had great tension and steam and stalled out in the last chapter, telling us rather than showing us the resolution. Like we need the perp walks.  (CWs: undue pressure, abuse of power, neglect).

41. Run Posy Run by Cate C Wells (m/w, morality chain, sooo violent)

Okay this was captivating. Totally horror mind fuck but it totally worked. Posy is vulnerable, brave, stupid, full of contradictions, and it was fascinating to read her journey. (CWs: Murder, violence, abuse)

42. Hidden Impact by Piper J Drake (Brazilian American M, Chinese American W) Bodyguard RS Gabe is just killing time with security details while he recovers enough to go back overseas, but when Maylin is almost killed in front of him, he can’t deny her help. (cw: guns, violence)

43. Deadly Testimony by Piper J Drake (Korean M/WW) Bodyguard RS, As a sniper Lizzie excells at going at it alone,and now she is tied at the hip to the sexiest but must infuriating man alive.  cw: threats to family, violence, guns

44. Contracted Defense by Piper J Drake (Maori M/WW) RS. A shared fight leads to a scorching one-night stand. All is well till they are introduced to each other new partner.  Can they be professional, figure out how to save the client and not burn up in lust?  CWs: violence, guns

 

45. Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh (WM/WW, contemporary) 2nd time is the charm, sort of. I bounced off this one early when it first came out, but I needed some Singh magic, so I tried again. I didn't love the set up with Isa's mom.  Still meh, but I loved Nayna a lot.

 

46. Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh (AM/AW, contemporary, arranged?? marriage)  I loved Nayna and Raj as supporting characters in Cherish Hard and seeing their complicated romance bloom & the fact that they are both virgins & working so hard to balance self vs family's traditions.

47. Beta Read for Latinx author (WM/Afro-Latinx W, contemporary)  Tons of fun to return to this series, raucous, raunchy and lot of fun. Can't wait till 2022 when the the rest of you can read it.

48. Last Guard by Nalini Singh (disabled Filipino Man/ neurodivergent Indian Woman, PNR)

Bonded as traumatized children, Canto & Payal rediscover each other and their trust for each other as they dive deep into the foundations of the psy-net.   This book was a joy (PT: abuse)

49. Love Hard by Nalini Singh (Samoan Kiwi M/Samoan Kiwi W, Sports contemporary). This is my favorite of the series, Dislike to love with great found family actions ( CWs: past trauma Neglect,  death).

50. Sexy/Dangerous by Beverly Jenkins (BM/BW, RS, bad first impressions, lust to love) A scientist working on world changing prototype needs protection. Max will protect Adam but she won’t make it easy on him.  Super fun world building. (CWs: past trauma: dog attack).

51. Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins (BM/BW, RS, hidden identity) When JT’s car is sabotaged a fine black trucker comes to her rescue, but there is more to him than that. Sports, drugs & bombs all get in the way till JT claims what is hers.  CWs: past trauma assault, violence, guns

52. Edge of Dawn by Beverly Jenkins (BM/BW, RS) Saint & Narice are drawn together on a deadly high-pressure treasure hunt. Lots of explosions & fast cars and decoding of quilts.  Fun to see what Galen & Hester’s descendants are up to in Detroit!

53. Edge of Midnight by Beverly Jenkins (BM/BW, RS)  Black Detroit Batman/architect with a thing for dragons, who decides to strong arm the most stubborn community activist on the eastside who shot him into a MoC to protect his secret crimefighting. CW: violence, mentions of rape

54. Black Lace by Beverly Jenkins.  A love letter to Detroit and Michigan, featuring a determined environmental official Lacy and His Finess Dr.Drake Randolph as they run down illegal dumpers & study up on love & romance. CWs: guns, mentions of murder, gore.

55. Barely Breathing by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS, 2nd chance, quirky small town)  They were inseparable in HS, but she dreamed about getting away from her difficult dad & their small town. 10 yrs later. cw: guns, assault, alcoholism,past trauma: sexual harassment, death of mom

56. Slow Burn  by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS, small town/city girl, wedding party shenanigans) Victoria & Eric got off on the wrong foot, but thrown together during Lexi & Austin’s wedding week, they chemistry ignites. CWs: blackmail, sexual assault, non-consensual sex tape.

57. Falling Hard by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS, ⭐️widow w/kids & next-door). Stranded & sick w her twins, Jesse step in. He’s watched out for her in secret, scared to get emotionally involved but he can’t stay away Cw: suicidal ideation, PTSD, grief, ptrauma: DV/abuse, war

58. Tempting Fate by Pamela Clare (Lakota M/biracial W, RS, fated mates, found family) Naomi campsite invaded by violent escapees & left for dead where Chaska & his sis Win find & rescue her.  She finds more than love but family. CWs: violence, guns, pt: cult, abuse, abandonment

59. Close to Heaven (WM/WW, secret pining) Joe wants to atone for his family’s exploitation of Scarlet Springs, secretly giving back.  Rain has worked for Joe since she arrived a homeless teen mom. 20 yrs ago, Now or never.  CWs: unplanned pregnancy past trauma, rape, murder.

60. Holding On by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS, PTSD) elite Mt.Climber Conrad is still paralyzed  by grief 15 mo. after a tragedy on Everest. A cute dog & an even cuter trainer, motivate him to make progress.  Cw: grief, violence, assault, gore, past trauma: death of parent.

61. Chasing Fire ( ensemble sequel) fire threatens Scarlet Springs and it residents. Lots of action, adventures and tears but everyone gets their HEAs even Shota the wolf.

62. Breaking Free by Pamela Clare (O’odham M/Lakota W, RS, half-sides) Jason is only visiting, bound by promises to go back to his people but he can’t resist loving Winona, also tied to her people & work in Scarlet Springs.  CWs: guns, poachers, animal abuse, medical trauma

63. Soul Deep by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, bad 1st impressions, snowed in, age gap 45/63, RS).Loved this one.  Good thing I’m a sucker for some of PC recurring motifs as I’ve noticed many during this binge! But I loved the chemistry of these two!CWs: violence, guns, medical procedures

64. Breaking Point by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS) I now know why Clare categorizes the Scarlet Spring books action adventure while the Iteam books are RS, non-stop danger.  Neat to see origins of characters I already know. CWs: murder, violence, torture, sexual assault.

65. Extreme Exposure (WM/WW, RS) investigative reporter & idealistic politicians get caught up in maze of greedy corruption. CWs: harassment, death threats, assault, violence, guns, abandonment, slut shaming.

66. Hard Evidence by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS)when a a teen is gunned down in front of her Tessa, takes it upon her self to learn why and straight into the crosshairs of Undercover agent with a big street cred & the big bad he is after. Cw: sexual assault, human trafficking, guns

67. Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS) Sophie never expected to see Hunt again, and certainly not to kidnap her. Drawn together by his missing sister, they know their relationship is doomed. CW: sexual assaults, imprisonments, ptsd, survivor guilt, addiction, murder

68. Naked Edge by Pamela Clare (WM/Navajo W, RS). Extremely Sexy but emotionally cutoff Gabe keeps finding himself saving tenacious journalist Kat as she unearths a terrible crime on the sacred Mesa Butte CWs:murder, racism, harassment, slut shaming, medical procedures, violence

69. Skin Deep by Pamela Clare (WM/WM, RS, novella) I’ve been waiting for Megan’s story since Marc’s book. So sweet. Cw: scars, attempted SA, rape survivor, drug use, violence, guns.

70. Striking Distance (PR/Cherokee M/WW, RS) although an I-team book it felt pretty distanced from the core group, clearly launching the Cobra Elite series.  PR rep was medio/medio.  CWs: rape, abuse, forced pregnancy, PTSD, racism, murder, terrorism.

71. Seduction Game by Pamela Clare (WM/WW, RS)  really liked this one. The ditzy/horny blonde entertainment reporter who they all love is really CIA.  CWs: abduction, torture, murder, shootings, threats of sexual assault.

72. Deadly Intent by Pamela Clare (Mexican American M, WW, RS) negative first impressions, intense  bonding under fire, sex/salsa dancing, CWs: medical procedures, guns, stalking, violence, past trauma, sexual assault, harassment, bad parents, war,

73. Hard Target by Pamela Clare ( WM/WW, RS, dead bff’s sister, private army, Afghanistan, midwife) Derek & Jenna fall fast and hard in the worst possible time.  Eh.  CWs: war, threats of rape, rape as a tool of war, childbirth, medical procedures, torture, murder, abduction)

74. Hard Asset by Pamela Clare ( WM/Bangladeshi- American W, RS, bodyguard, war criminal prosecutor)  Shanti needs protection while securing evidence against a Burmese War Criminal, can a w of peace love a soldier?CWs: war crimes, threats of rape, genocide, kidnapping, murder,

 

75. Hard Justice by Pamela Clare (WM Scottish/WW, RS, murder solving vacation.  When Quinn’s BFF is murdered & tarred in the press, Shields flies in to help him & keep him out of Jail CWs: drugs, child sexual abuse, human trafficking, murder, alcoholism, domestic violence.

 

76. Hard Edge by Pamela Clare. (Puerto Rican M/Venezuelan-American W, RS, hidden identity) almost skipped this one because I’m spoiled by awesome PR rep by PR writers. Did enjoy Gabi and the impact posing as a nun had on her life. CWs: guns, murder, drug dealing, threats of rape

77. Hard Pursuit by Pamela Clare (BM, Chinese-American W, RS, nurse abducted, one-man rescue) Malik & Kristi were meant to be a fling with no strings but when she is kidnapped, Malik drops everything to find her. CWs: rape threats, child soldiers, guns, violence, abduction

78. Hard Line by Pamela Clare ( WM/WW, RS, trapped in Antarctica with a killer) when Sam’s  BFF is killed, she takes her place on a dangerous secret mission  & unexpectedly discovers there is more to life than science. Stoic Thor finally loses his cool CWs: guns, murder, poison

79. Better Homes & Hauntings by Molly Harper (audio, close quarters with ghosts.) I really enjoyed this, with its dual love stories, murder mystery and found family elements. 

CWs: abusive, controlling ex, murder, violence, ghostly encounters

80. Edge of the Woods by Jules Kelly  (WM/WW, bi mc, PNR) New human deputy moves to unknowingly into a Wolf town and falls for the alpha who can’t tell him their secrets.  Promising, but pacing stalled as the secrets were held a bit long CWs: violence, murder, past trauma abuse.

81. Her Viking Wolf (WM/BW, time travel fates mates). Loved the worldbuilding & the heroine. Chloe wants to marry her best friend, She is in deep denial when Viking Wolf king tumbles out of a portal, looking for her. CWs:violence, abandonment, childbirth, mating heat, kidnapping.

 

82. A Christmas Spark by Diana Biller (WM/WW, kisses only novella, scientists find love) lovely, swoony and delightful as John & Winnifred do science, fail at tea & ice skating and fall in explosive love.  CWs: gender discrimination, family rejection.

83. The Scottish Wolf by Theodora Taylor (WM/BW, PNR, boss/employee, mating fever,cancer, miracle pregnancy, KU) For the first 1/3 of this book her boss is such an asshole and then Taylor flips it all around and it is hilarious and so wrong. (CW: cancer, miracle baby, turning)

84. The Scottish King by Theodora Taylor (WM/BW, PNR, enemies to lovers, mating fever, kidnapping, KU) Continues the drama from the last book and dials it up a notch. So soapy but there is story cliffhanger and no book 3 yet!! (CW: coercive/forced matings, kidnapping),

85. Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle (WM/WW, RS, boss/employee, opposites/attract stalker, KU) Another RS series I can binge!! Lou is chaos sprite & Callum is all about order, but they sizzle, they just have to survive her stalker & solve a murder. CW: murder, terrible family).

86. Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle (WM/WW, friends to lovers, grumpy/sunshine, prepper/MC) Ian is torn between his Fire Co & MC he grew up in until they start targeting the solitary Rory who he has loved for years.CWs: guns, alcoholism, murder, arson, harassment, parental suicide

87. Gone too Deep by Katie Ruggle(WM/WM, city girl/mountain man, virgin hero) Ellie arrives unprepared but ready to track her missing father but she needs George’s help to track him. CWs:threats of SA, murder, guns, violence, parent with mental illness, arson

88. In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle, (WM/WW, friends to lovers, agoraphobic traumatized MC, cop MC) Daisy watches her neighbors from her fortress-like home, until it brings danger to her door. Found family,  CWs: murder, arson, gaslighting, past trauma, mental illness.

89.After the End by Katie Ruggle (WM/WM, HEA epilogues with weddings, proposals, babies, continued healing & a crate of stolen/rescued puppies. CWs: theft, car accidents.

90. Run to Ground by Katie Ruggle (WM/WW, RS, evil stepmother, kids in peril, kidnapping) Jules does what she must to keep her siblings safe, an then falls for a grumpy cop who chooses to trust her and not as too many questions (CWs: child abuse)

91. On the Chase by Katie Ruggle (WM/WW, RS,  witness hiding) Theo might not as questions but Hugh has dozens for Grace because her story is super squirrelly, but he is not going let anyone get to her. ( CWs: violence, guns)

92. Survive the Night by Katie Ruggle (WM/WW, RS, mob princess escapes) Sarah has been terrorized in that gilded cage for too long, so she jumps at the chance of escape.  Otto will take on anything for her. (CWs: violence, guns, dirty cops, murder, abuse)

93. Heavy by Cate C Wells ( WM/WW, autistic MC, marriage of convenience) Justice, revenge, guilt & a “not-real/too-real wedding in Vegas. When sheltered Dina blackmails Heavy into covering up a planned murder, neither of them expected to fall in love. (CWs: past SA, murder)

94. Dangerous Ground by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, Suspense/thriller with rom elements, 1st in series (no HEA yet, stranded, missing sibling, grief). This book was fantastic and I can’t wait for Bk2 out in January). Loved getting to know the MCs, CWs: violence, murder, fake SA claims).

95. Concrete Evidence by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, RS, political intrigue) Erica is trying to eek out a living, living in fear looking for a way to clear her name, when she is saddled with a lazy intern, who is more than he says he is. (CWs: abuse, abandonment, murder, lies, Past SA).

96. Body of Evidence by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, RS, attorney/witness, enemies to lovers, road trip)

Curt’s ideals are everything to him but Mara makes him want to shred them but he prosecuting her uncle (CWs: smallpox, kidnapping, death sentence, SA, stalker, murder, war crimes)

97. Withholding Evidence by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, RS, bad first impressions) Trina has a job to do and Keith secrets he will never tell anyone but they are just right for each other (CWs: harassment, sexual discrimination, explosions, murder, kidnapping, mentions of genocide)

98. Night Owl by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, no-strings) Jenna & Brad have been circling each other for years, hiding their mutual desire because he plans to leave their small town as soon as he can but when they are finally thrown together, they can’t stay apart. (CWs: threats).

99. Incriminating Evidence by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, enemies to lovers) She is a threat to his company & campaign but she is also the only person he can trust to help him find out the truth. (CWs: kidnapping, torture, stalking, violence, murder).

100. Covert Evidence by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, no trust, kidnapped for your own good) Cressida is in over her head and can't trust anyone while on the run in eastern turkey, especially the hot CIA agent who kidnapped her.  CW: kidnapping, murder, past trauma: abuse, SA, violence.

101. Cold Evidence by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, RS, 2nd chance, hate to love).  Undine needs the help of the last man who would ever help her, the man whose life she wrecked(CWs: betrayal, explosions, fire, false accusations, murder) .

102. Poison Evidence (WM/WW, secret identity, spy, lies) Ivy’s thought her life imploded & then she found out her scummy cheating ex was a terrorist-backing traitors who sold her invention & the govt set her up for a dangerous mission! (CWs: kidnapping, violence, threats of SA)

103. Silent Evidence by Rachel Grant ( BM/WW, IR, RS, about time!) Sean & Hazel have been circling each other for years but the deep secrets of their friendship circle endanger them, it is finally the time for the truth.A crowded book & lots of hot/cold (CWs: racism, murder)

104. Winter Hawk by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, Jewish MC) Nate pick up a fare for his brother’s company and ends up rescuing a computer program, whose whole like is about to be hacked.  (CWs: past sexual harassment, past dead parent, incels, fire, murder).

105. Tainted Evidence by Rachel Grant ( Jewish WM, Bi WW)  Loved Maddie, she is a totally a save herself kind of heroine and Josh who is compulsive caretaker needs her NO BS kind of energy in his life.  (CWs:looted bones,  past miscarriage, doxxing, white supremacists, racists).

106. Tinderbox by Rachel Grant(WM/WW, military RS)An Archeological survey uncovers more than a historic trove of bones…it might change the history of a nation. CWs: war, racism, bombs, threats of SA, guns, colonialism, violence, slavery, kidnapping, human trafficking, toxic dad

107. Catalyst by Rachel Grant (Native M/WW, military RS) Is the a victim or the cause? Enemies to lovers (CWs: toxic family, SA, human trafficking, violence, guns, past: addiction, past trauma: sexual exploitation, attempted genocide)  Easter egg for Evidence series readers.

108. Firestorm by Rachel Grant (BM/WW, IR, Military RS, covert ops, fake relationship, secrets) Cal & Savvy’s long dance of attraction denial combusts in the Congo, ignited by mutual respect. CWs: SA, CIA political  fuckery, Human trafficking, violence, guns, murder, war.

109. Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh (WM/WM, UF/PNR, friends to lovers, sloooowburn, flashbacks)

 

Aodhan & Ilium’s lifelong bond is unwound & reforged, negotiating how to love a new way. 

 

CWs: murder, child abuse, mental illness, PTSD, past trauma: SA, kidnapping, abandonment

110. Broken Falcon by Rachel Grant (WM/WW, RS, MC sex worker, SA survivor MC)  We get Chase’s story at last and it is a twisty story with double hidden identities, lots of mind fucking (of the good & bad kind!).  CWs: SA, harassment, rape threats, murder, human trafficking)

111. Inferno by Rachel Grant (Latinx M/BW , military RS) coda to the Tinderbox series, with its own condensed fake relationship, just one night, terror plot!  Sweet, sexy & intense. Running out of RG books!  ( CWs: rape threats, bombs, kidnapping, betrayal, violence, guns).

112. Grave Danger by Rachel Grant ( WM/WW, cop MC, Archeologist discovers a murder victim at indigenous site and has her credibility systematically destroyed to help hide the murder. Cw: stalker ex was an abusive cop, generational trauma, domestic abuse, racism, murder, stalking

113. Midnight Sun ( WM/WM, Paranormal Mystery)  a stolen indigenous mask that might be haunted throws suspicious museum consultant Sienna and ADA Rhys Vaughn together as they figure out who is stealing artifacts from the tribal corporation & more.  Cw: emotional manipulation

114. Diablo Lake: Awakened by Lauren Dane (BW/WM, witchy PNR) Gentle, slice-of-life small town 2nd chance romance, where nothing much happens beyond sexy courting, setting up a new practice, building a house, family visits and bonding with cute dogs. Cw: racism, secrets.

115. Black Hat, White Witch by Hailey Edwards (PNR/mystery)  loved loved this book. I loved Rue, her determination to keep Colby safe & the rediscovery of the work friends & work she once was so good at.  Very cool small town & magical world building.  Cw: murder, kidnapping

116. Black Arts, White Craft by Hailey Edwards (ww/dae m, PNR, Mystery)  aaah, I love this series and it’s great banter and flirting, just so much found family goodness.  I want to read all of these… but I don’t think they are out yet! Cw: gore, guns, murder, stalking.

 

117. Bayou Born by Hailey Edwards ( UF, WW lead, cop MC) Double layers of found family as the hard-fought normality of Luce’s life disintegrates a bad she has to fight for her friends & sanity (Cw: slavery, abduction, violence, gore)

118. Bone Driven by Hailey Edwards (m/f, UF with romantic elements) life gets more complicated and painful for Luce. No punches pulled. Cw: violence, murder, coercion)

119. Death Knell by Hailey Edwards (m/f, UF with romantic elements)staying Luce and not Conquest is getting harder and the end game more complicated.  Cw: violence, murder, coercion)

120. Rise Against by Hailey Edwards (m/f, UF with romantic elements) loved the complicated relationships that Luce and her crew are trying to negotiate while saving the world. Cw: violence, murder, coercion)

121. End Game by Hailey Edwards (m/f, UF with romantic elements) lots of twists and turns, and lots tears and double/triple crossing but HEA is right there for everyone. Cw: violence, murder, coercion)

122. Rare Danger by the Great Ms.Beverly Jenkins (BM/BW, m/f, personal librarian MC, Detroit-set RS, fade to black) Stolen rare books, missing hands, a independent romance loving MC and the finest mystery man to research with.  (Cw: violence, abduction and guns)

123. Reckless at Heart by Zoe York (m/f, single dad, just a fling, mutual pining) Kerry’s biological clock is ticking but she is deeply attracted to the grumpy dad of her young patients.  Owen had a plan but feelings, big feelings derailed them.  (Cw: pregnancy (not MCs))

124. Fierce at Heart by Zoe York (m/f, friends to lovers, fake relationship, platonic marriage)  Adam thinks he can’t love, but he jumps at the chance of marrying his old friend so she can buy a bakery for $1!  They vow to be each other cheerleader 💕💕( Cw: abusive stalker ex) 

125. Fated Blades by Ilona Andrews (m/f, SFR, Kinsmen U, enemies to lovers). Betrayed by their spouses and their families in peril, Ramona & Matias must fight & dance together to keep their powerful research safe (Cw: murder, past trauma: witness to massacre, violence) .

126. Love in a Snowstorm by Zoe York (m/f, age gap, bff’s little sister, mutual pining) . Dani and Jake’s timing has never been right, in no small part because he is 5 yrs older & she is the little sister of his best friend.  I loved the complicating wrench played by York.

127. Love on the Outskirts of Town by Zoe York (m/f, single mom, former  players (both MCs), anxiety, trauma & PTSD).  Loved loved Natasha & Matt’s story. Their acceptance of each other, the fierceness of their love. (Cw: abandonment, custody threat, medical procedures)

128. Love on a Summer Night by Zoe York ( m/f, widowed mom, writer mc, “research”, biker bad boy??) Faith has been cocooning since her husband’s unexpected death, until Zander zings into town & steals her heart and reawakens her longing for adventure. (Cw: grief, child in peril).

129. Love on the Run by Zoe York (m/f, singer/bodyguard, terrible ex, anxiety)  Liana is hiding out in her bff's house, but she has to go back to the tour and her life as country music star...but gah big feelings.  Dean is getting a crash course in bodyguarding...but big feelings

130. Love in a Sandstorm by Zoe York (wm/ww, whirlwind, separation, war injuries, disability). Sean and Jenna fall in love but have to fight to stay marry after he is injured and no one knows they are married. (Cw: abandonment, parental neglect, medical procedures, war).

131. Love on the Edge of Reason by Zoe York (wm/ww, secret affair, surprise pregnancy)  secret no strings affair and hidden feelings get complicated quick for gestating Chloe but Tom is set on being the partner she needs, even if she is still scared of commitment. (Labor, birth)

132. Wild at Heart by Zoe York (m/f, nemesis rom, old crushes, grief).  Catie has thrown herself into making Pine Harbor a better place since she moved back.  Will finds her kind of bossy and has been holding a grudge for a perceived slights…but they throw serious 💕sparks!

133. Black Truth, White Lies by Hailey Edwards (UF, m/ww, found family, magic) Rue expands her family and faces some hard truths. Love the slow burn btw her and Asa.  (Cw: animal mutilation, gore, violence, abuse)

134. The Missing Page by Cat Sebastian (WM/WM, cozy mystery, queer found family).  Secrets and unpleasantness dutifully ignored until a will full of strange bequests cracks them open ( Cw: queer phobia, death, grief).

135. Siren’s Calling by Piper J Drake (WM/BW, PNR/Fantasy) Exiled Merwoman teams up with a selkie to save the orcas of Puget from a new predator…and uncovers terrible secrets.  Really enjoyed the “fish-out-water” dynamic of Amae’s Cw: violence, mentions of past genocide.

136. Scales and Sensibilities by Stephanie Burgis (WM/WW, magic) Elinor snaps under her cruel cousins’ tyranny and ends up a caught up in a web of deception of her own Wishing.  Fun & funny, can’t wait for more (Cw: past parental deaths, verbal abuse, threats of prison).

137. Dead in the Water by Hailey Edwards ( WM/WW, UF, shifters/fae, magical serial killer, found family, grief) Cam punishes herself for her sister’s death by investigating magical drownings but stumbles into something even deadlier and more sinister (cw: murder, violence) .

138. Hell or High Water by Hailey Edwards (WM/WW, UF, shifters/fae, serial killer, therapy) Can’t say I loved how the central mystery resolved as it relates to Lori but I did love the deep work Cam has to do to heal emotionally. (Cw: murder, dead of disabled sibling, violence)

139. Fish out of Water by Hailey Edwards (WM/WW, novella, love talker/sort-of-mermaid), trauma recovery)  sweet and gentle romance for Harlow as she heals and update on Bianca’s healing. Cw: mind manipulation, gore, bullying

140. Dog with a Bone by Hailey Edwards (m/w, UF, magic bounty Hunter) bounced off this book when it first came out…just didn’t click. Having read 4 bks in a later series I came back…almost bounced again…it starts in the middle…but this time it clicked. (Cw: violence, murder)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#RomBkLove 2021 Day 28: Romantic Movie & TV Pairings

Day 28

Guest post by @KatrinDavidson / @Katreadskissingbooks on IG

2020 has been a roller coaster ride, that both physically and mentally, many of us didn’t expect to be so intense. For some romance readers, sometimes slipping into our favourite genre perhaps didn’t feel right. It didn’t give us the comfort that we expected. 

 

Reading in 2020 got hard, well it definitely did for me. Pre-pandemic I would use my hour-long commute to gobble up books either on my e-tablet or headphones, allowing myself space away from the press of bodies on the London Underground. It gave me time to get ready, escape and be in that happy space with Romance. When the pandemic forced us to work from home, it was a revelation. I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to undertake a draining commute across London to be at my desk for half-eight. Instead, it gave me back my mornings.

 

However, what it didn’t do with this extra time was carve out space for something I loved. Reading suddenly became something I had to factor in, the news cycle took over. My happy place no longer felt so happy. My concentration, when not needed for work, living and looking after my people,started to drift. Instead of full novels I sought out novellas and began to savour rereading books I had previously loved in the past. 

 

Instead, I rediscovered and fell back in love, with Love, watching Romance series and films on the TV.




RECS-

CrashlandingKramas- Crash landing on you

https://asianwiki.com/Crash_Landing_on_You

K-Dramas did a lot of heavy lifting for many of  us this year, with genres, tropes and storylines that hit all the romance beats.The content coming out of eastern media is much more attuned to romance. I would  also recommend some great Turkish dramas such as  Erkenci Kuş (this series in particular inspired some recent Penny Reid’s heroes). BUT Crash Landing on you, was the perfect Fish-Out-Of-Water billionairess story. Both opposites attract and a Sunshine vs Stoic that delivered all the lovely beats. To be absolutely clear to us HEA fans, the ending is more HFN which tends to be the case with K-Dramas i've noticed. 

 

I would also recommend joining OSRBC Asian Dramas which have a handy guide to popular Korean, Chinese and Japanese dramas in a reader/watcher friendly spreadsheet. 

 

Books recs- As K-Dramas are so diverse in their tropes, you will be able to find whatever pairing takes your fancy. For a Sunshine Vs Grump I would recommend- Managed (VIP, #2)

by Kristen Callihan, Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)

by Talia Hibbert, The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1)

by Tessa Dare and Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

 

FirelightPeriod dramas- Firelight 

 

Historical romance are one of my happy places. Period films and tv series ( North and South, Pride and Prejudice both the movie and television mini series alongside Persuasion etc) are multiple rewatches throughout the year. 

My husband says they are my “period dramas” , something I gravitate towards when my womb decides to deliver samurai death once a month. So discovering, unwatched period drama films that have HEA can sometimes be like finding little gems.

 

The plot of Firelight (1997) “In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of an anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven years later she is hired as governess to a girl on a remote Sussex estate. The father of the girl, Charles Godwin, turns out to be that anonymous landowner. So Elisabeth has to be her own daughter's governess, and she can't reveal the secret of her tie with little Louisa.” 

 

The plot is seeping with anguish, but what this film really delivers is some outstanding acting and cinematography. Stephen Dillane as the hero looks haunted and is haunting, telling so much with his eyes, that when casting my mind to other bits i've seen him in, I remembered he was in Game of thrones as the slimy Stannis Baratheon. A vast improvement here, the film never shies away from silence. It's the moments in between , the longing, the need to have a connection that really make this outstanding. Sophie Marceau’s beauty is ethereal here. Another crush to add to my ever growing  list. 

 

 A note of warning for some CW- there is some bad treatment of a bed ridden wife to deliver our ending,which personally I had no issues with but after reading reviews it didn't always sit right with some viewers. 

 

Books recs-

Governess romances- The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5) by Courtney Milan( CW- check goodreads),

The Highlander (Victorian Rebels, #3) by Kerrigan Byrne (CW check goodreads).

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

 A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby(Rogues and Remarkable Women #1) by Vanessa Riley.




Starstruck

 

Octanehttps://www.imdb.com/title/tt10801368/

 

Written by and starring the Award-winning comedian, writer and actor Rose Matafeo, who happens to be a massive girl crush of mine ” ‘Starstruck' follows the life of Jessie, a millennial who lives in East London. She juggles between her two jobs in order to afford the overpriced apartment that she shares with her best friend, Kate. On New Year's eve, she hooks up with Tom, and she soon discovers that he is a famous film star. Their worlds could not be more different, yet fate keeps bringing them together under the most extraordinary circumstances.”  

 

Currently on Iplayer, this BBC 3 programme is a delight. Somewhat a reverse Notting Hill, which was on repeat viewings when I was a teenager( Big warning here as after rewatching in the pandemic,  I came to the realisation that Curtis although perfectly capturing the quintessential british rom-com , his writing is not without its dated references. There are definitely prejudiced takes, so be warned if you fancy diving into the backcateolgue.  On that note, my own hot take- Love actually is not a Christmas movie.)

 

Starstruck feels fun, romantic and modern. It also is very funny, it passes the 6 laugh test pretty much every episode.  I really hope it makes it across the pond, but most of all I'm delighted it's been given a series two.

 

Book recs- Celebrity romance--Spoiler Alert (Spoiler Alert, #1)

by Olivia Dade, Twice in a Blue Moon (Hardcover)

by Christina Lauren, The Roommate (Paperback)

by Rosie Danan and Naked in Death (In Death #1)

by J.D. Robb ( CW check goodreads). 




Honourable mentions

Honorable mentions



  • Fleabag- Pair with Sierra Simones Priest for a heroine that is messy and definitely more modern than Thorn birds, Richard  Chamberlain is still a dish though. 
  • Its a sin - Dealing with the AIDS crisis in Britain, this is truly wonderful telly, heartbreaking but worth watching, from the creator of Queer as folk. Pair with Unbroken by Larry Page   which has a large section dealing with the Aids crisis in America.I remember reading it and being moved to tears by his writing on a plane. 
  • I may destroy you- this is gut punching tv, Gut punching, Looking at modern sexual consent this is something that is hard viewing but heart wrenching for its skill and writing. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams  although not a romance, deals with blackness, Britishness and sex in a way that feels very modern, and needs to be read particularly after the Black lives matter movement. 
  •  And lastly Brigerton, not without its flaws , mostly here  but what I hope for in the future of Romance TV is that Bridgerton has opened the door . It's shown that Romance is a genre to be taken seriously and about bloody time. 

-------



What films and television have got you through the pandemic? 

 

What films or television do you return to, for comfort, when you're sick, sad or heartbroken? 

 

What was your new discovery that you need to shout from the rooftops about?  

 

But mostly, if you loved a Movie/Tv series what book would you recommend to hit the same feels?

 


#RomBkLove 2021 Day 27: Gothic Romances

Day 27

 

Guest Post by Geek Girl @emergentgeek

    Gothic Romance is today’s #RomBkLove subject. The genre is characterized by a creepy, unsettling atmosphere and is usually set in an old, dark mansion, house, or castle full of secrets and suspicious servants. The house itself is frequently the third main character in the story- ghosts, darkness, murder, and hidden passages are all typical aspects of a Gothic story. TWs abound in Gothic Romance- the protagonist is frequently a young woman who is an abuse survivor and occasionally gaslit by either the hero or other characters. The love interest is usually brooding with a dark secret in his past.

    JaneeyreThe first Gothic Romance I ever read at the tender age of 10 was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (WM/WF). For years, I didn’t like Jane, she seemed so passive. I reread it recently and found myself feeling quite protective of her character. She was severely abused by her family then the staff of the boarding school she was sent to. She was a trauma survivor and would instinctively freeze when overwhelmed. Though she was quiet, she was strong. When she found out Mr Rochester (174 year old spoiler alert) was already married with a mentally ill wife in his attic, she knew he could easily overwhelm her concerns about the situation and convince her to stay, so she left in the middle of the night. She knew it was wrong to live with him further and followed her principles. When St. John offered her a marriage of friendship and companionship, but not love, Jane declined because she knew she was worthy of love and passion. When she went back to Rochester, it was on her terms, their HEA was her choice.

   Widowofrosehouse My second recommendation is The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller (WM/WF). This book was my favorite from last year’s #RomBkLove. Alva is a widow who fled to America to escape her past. She buys a creepy old mansion to restore and enlists the assistance of a professor who is an expert in the newfangled electric lighting. There’s ghosts, blackmail, and delicious romance as the adoring professor is drawn to the reserved, wounded heroine. This story also has the grumpy/sunshine trope with the heroine’s love interest breaking the brooding male stereotype of Gothic Romance. I adored this book, the characters, and even the creepy mansion.    

    ToowickedtokissToo Wicked to Kiss by Erica Ridley (WM/WF) is the first in her Gothic Love Stories series. I’ve only read this one of the series, but it was excellent and I will be reading more! Evangeline flees from her abusive stepfather and finds herself a part of a house party at the creepy Blackberry Manor. She finds herself drawn to the reclusive Gavin Lioncroft, who might or might not have killed his parents in cold blood. There’s secret passageways, more murders, secrets, and servants who know too much… #RomBkLove.

    SeducedbyastrangerSeduced by a Stranger by Eve Silver (WM/WF) is the fifth of her Dark Gothic series though they are all standalones and can be read in any order. Catherine accepts an invite from a childhood friend Madeline to visit Cairncroft Abbey, which is filled with secrets, lies, and murder. Madeline is in poor health, frequently bedbound, and often starts raving that someone is trying to kill her. Catherine is drawn to the owner of Cairncroft Abbey, Madeline’s cousin- brooding, fierce Gabriel St Aubyn who is haunted by the horrors of his past and has difficulty understanding and expressing emotions. Is he trying to murder his cousin? Is he a sociopath? How does he seem to be in two places at once? This one is super dark even for a Gothic Romance as there is a serial killer in the story as well.

    BitterburnBitterburn by Ann Aguirre (WM?/WF) is a Gothic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Amarrah, an outsider even in her own family, offers herself as a sacrifice when her village is unable to pay tribute to the Beast in the Keep at the End of the World. The Beast is a tragic and sympathetic character trapped in his castle through no fault of his own, alone and despondent for centuries. The two lonely outsiders gradually form a bond and eventually fall in love. The whole story is beautiful and haunting, but not as dark as other recommendations in this list.

Simonfleximal    The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles (WM/WM) is one of my favorite creepy books. Robert is an investigative reporter who hires Simon to help him with his haunted house. The book is a series of supernatural cases the two investigate together and they eventually fall in love. There’s evil cults, bleeding walls, homicidal butterflies, and moving skin runes.

    Shadows: A Bayou Magic Novel by Kristen Proby. (WM/WW)Modern romantic suspense/paranormal straying into Gothic Romance territory. THIS SERIES SCARED THE S*^$ OUT OF ME! SO good. Brielle can see ghosts, and if she listens Shadows closely, she can hear their stories as well. Cash, a FBI profiler, comes to town for a vacation and is drawn to her. When multiple young women, all resembling Brielle, go missing then show up brutally murdered, they team up to figure out what is going on. There’s a feeling of dread throughout the series, a haunted house, a serial killer, and demon possession.

    DangerouscollaborationBonus book suggestion: A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn, (WM/WW) the fourth of the Veronica Speedwell mystery series. A bride mysteriously vanishes on her wedding day. Decades later, her reclusive former fiancé hosts a house party and invites everyone who was there for the wedding. It has creepy servants, a poison garden, suspicious family, possible ghosts, and secret tunnels. However, it is not truly a Gothic Romance. The heroine, Veronica, is there to investigate what happened to the bride and always looks for a rational explanation for supposed supernatural events.


#RomBkLove 2021 Day 26: Your "Thing"

 

2021 Day 16 Your thing

Guest post by Angela James

I’m here to represent all the people who like very specific things in their reading, and as soon as you know that very specific element is in a book, you’re ready to read it. It might be a trope, a character trait, a specific storyline, or something else, but it’s your “thing”. The thing that lights you up, sometimes for no apparent reason, and gives the story an immediate in with you. 

My thing is books featuring protagonists who are bakers. I love bakers. It’s not even that I’m a baker myself, because though I can throw together a pan of incredible brownies and an occasional loaf of bread, I’m no baker. But give me a protagonist who’s a baker—especially if they own a bakery—and I’m going to read that book because I love bakers. 

Until I agreed to write this post, I hadn’t given much thought to why I love main characters who are bakers, but I think it comes down to a few key things: one, I do love cupcakes and a well-made cupcake that has a moist cake portion (sorry for using the word moist) with excellent frosting is hard to find, so I think I see people who do it well as competent, and I like competent characters. But I also think that I see bakers as a form of caretaker, and that’s also appealing to me. Plus, there’s a certain fantasy element involved in the idea of knowing someone who makes incredible baked goods and showers her friends and family with them. A thing that’s missing from my own life, currently, I suppose!

And yes, I do love the Great British Bakeoff, why do you ask?

Weirdly, my thing for characters who are bakers doesn’t extend to other forms of culinary art. I don’t have similar feelings for chefs, or chocolatiers, or even distillers or brewmasters. This is specific to bakers and no substitute will do—much like in baking, which is a bit of an exact science.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to force you to only recommend books that feature bakers (though of course, I will take ALL the recs and I would love to here if you also love main characters who are bakers). 

Instead, share your thing. What’s that one thing that will sell you a book nearly instantly, guaranteed. And what are some of your favorite books you’ve found with that thing? 

 

Recommendations:

 

Graham'sGraham’s Delicacies by Mina Waheed

I’m not sure if this book is still available for purchase, as I couldn’t find it on retail sites, but I’m still including it as a favorite because this collection of three romances, which starts with the dedication “This is for nonbinary cuties” and that center the romances around Graham’s Delicacies is such an inclusive and sweet romance that I hope you’ll be able to find it. 

All 6 of the main characters are queer and inside the book you’ll find three romances that are warm, engaging and so happy-making that this is a book you’ll find lifting your mood and giving you that “good book” sigh. Just writing this post made me put this one back on my ereader so I could revisit that feeling that I look for in my romances! 

Representation: Black, Latinx, Arab-American, Korean-American, bisexual, nonbinary, gay

Content warnings: misgendering, mention of parent death

BeardscienceBeard Science by Penny Reid

Beard Science is my favorite of Penny Reid’s work due to main characters Jennifer and Cletus. Jennifer is the “Banana Cake Queen” and famous for her baking, but in particular her banana cake. Jennifer wants nothing more than to get out from under her unwanted title and she has no qualms about blackmailing Cletus—clever, interfering, and all-too-observant Cletus—to help her do so. 

Beard Science serves as the springboard for a mystery series featuring Jennifer and Cletus. 

Representation: cis, white, m/f couples, neurodiversity

Content Warnings: mentions of violence, toxic family, body shaming

 

AsweetmessA Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

While I admit that Jayci Lee’s debut book Temporary Wife Temptation still holds first place in my hear among her books, her writing is fantastic and A Sweet Mess checked my “bakers” box so of course I loved it. 

Aubrey is a baker and bakery owner whose main focus is on her bakery, Comfort Zone, until she has a one-night stand with Landon Kim. A food critic whose review ripping apart Comfort Zone and Aubrey’s baking skills goes viral and nearly ruins her business. To save her reputation, Aubrey has to agree to go on Landon’s food competition show (another thing I love for real: food competition shows) and it’s up to Landon to show Aubrey he’ll stand by her side. 

This book adorable and swoonworthy, but speaking of swoonworthy, I was super excited when Jayci Lee announced the sale of her book’s movie rights, which Daniel Dae Kim will be producing and starring in. I’m ready!

Representation: Korean-American, cis, m/f couple

Content warnings: Family abuse, toxic family

 

About Angela:

Freelance editor and author career coach Angela James (she/her) is a veteran of the fiction publishing industry and has enjoyed nearly 20 years of experience in her field. An expert on editing (and reading!) genre fiction, especially romance and mystery, Angela has edited hundreds of bestselling books and authors. 

But, most of all, at heart, Angela is an avid romance reader who started reading romance at the precocious age of 9, when she “borrowed” her first Harlequin category romance from the brown paper grocery bag full that her mom kept next to her recliner. Romance has remained her one true love ever since that moment.

You can find Angela on Twitter: @AngelaJames or Instagram: @AngelaJamesEditor or on her website www.angelajames.co

 


#RomBkLove 2021 Day 25: Duty vs. Love

Day 25

#RomBkLove 2021 Day 25: Duty vs. Love recs from #RomBkLove Team.

 

SweettalkingloverStacey Agdern (@nystacey) recommends:

Tracey Livesay's Sweet Talking Lover

Relation to theme: fmc falls in love with the mayor of the town whose plant she's sent to close down .

Representation: black woman author, black woman fmc, interracial 

 

 

Jeannie linHolly from The Smut Report (@smutreport)

My Fair Concubine by  Jeannie Lin

Relation to theme: Fei Long is giving Yan Ling princess lessons so he can pass her off as his sister and prevent an international diplomatic disaster. Their love is impossible: because of family honor, because of Fei Long’s duty to the empire, because of Yan Ling’s promise to stick to the terms of their agreement. The result? Top notch pining. 

Representation: Chinese main characters

Content Warnings: violence

Hannah @hannahheartsro1 & Vicky @romancingread recommend: Honeytrap

Honeytrap by Aster Glenn Gray

An American and a Russian spy during the Cold War fall into a decades-long, constantly evolving relationship. Both MCs struggle with their respective duties to their countries versus their feelings for the other man; they are constantly having to weigh their patriotic obligations against protecting someone they care deeply about. If you haven’t read this beautiful book yet, what are you waiting for? It’s going to be both everything and nothing like what you expect.

Representation: Both white cis bisexual men

Content Warnings: workplace sexual harassment and abusive boss, PTSD, internalized homophobia, biphobia, homophobia, homophobic slur, stabbing, past suicidal ideation, war references, past intimate partner violence, ex dies by suicide off-page, grief, divorce

 

 


#RomBkLove 2021 Day 23: Action & Adventure

Day 23

#RomBkLove 2021 Day 23: Action & Adventure

Not all Action & Adventure romance is RS, what romances kept your heart pumping & your brain guessing as the MC's engaged in all kind of hijinks & misadventures across genre lines? Do you any favorite authors?

 

When I think action and adventure I think of Nalini Singh, whether it be her Guild Hunter books, Psy-changelings, or her thrillers her MC's are always thick in the action of political intrigue, life-risking adventure or other some caper.  (CWs: murder, gore, violence, guns, abuse, mentions of parental suicide).

NighthawkBeverly Jenkins's historicals are full of fantastic action & adventure, where her MCs show their audacity, vibrant vitality and fierce freedom as the outsmart, outchase and outlive anyone who dare challenge them. (Cws: Racism, violence, prejudice, guns, past trauma : enslavement).

Ai who loved meAlyssa Cole loves to write a good adventure, whether it is facing of against a wall of paparazzi, spying and sabotage deep in the confederacy or falling in love with with the AI next door, she pair humor, sass and heart with action and intrigue.  (Cws: racism, prejudice, secrets, guns, past trauma: enslavement, mind-wipes).

Kit Rocha's whole ouvre from their Moira Rogers PNR adventures, to their erotic revolutionaries to their Mercenary Librarians,  I know things will blow up, the romance will be intense and conflicted and some rich people's plans will be foiled.  (Cw: involuntary medical procedures, guns, past trauma: abuse, SA).

Who are you go to authors  for Action & Adventure?

 

 

 


#RomBkLove 2021 Day 22: Cultural Representation

Day 22

Cultural rep in Romance: Every (un-hurtful) take is valid and important

Guest Post by Royaline Sing

Disclaimer: These are solely my opinions and I am not speaking for any particular identity as an authority. I am mostly sticking to desi references. A dialog is welcome.

Romance is about hope. It's about happiness, about possibilities, and all about dreams.

You see how up close and personal it is, right? Every individual has different dreams, different hopes, different ideas about happiness, but everyone in the world relates with that emotion. When each of that individual becomes a unique character and meets another in a romance book, it becomes their story. Not of the entire group they represent necessarily, but their own individual story.

This vibrantly personal nature of everyone's lived reality is why every (un-hurtful) take on cultural rep in the books, especially the happy ending romances, is valid.

And extremely important.

Here is my example. I come from a middle class Indian family. I rarely wear saree and apply a bindi. But on festivals such as Ganesh Puja or Diwali I love to do my religious rituals, dress up and eat delicious food. When I first read a romance where I read a desi character like me, I was ecstatic.

I can imagine the same is true for someone who wears a saree daily and sees that in the books. Needless to say, there are many Indians who don't do either. Everyone is from the same ethnicity and seeing their version on the pages is deeply satisfying. It gives us readers a place to belong to.

This will be difficult to achieve though if (1) they never see themselves in books (or TV) at all AND (2) if they only see stereotypes or monolithic group representation.

There are thousands of types of sarees. There are thousands of types of hijabs. I'd like to see them. There are desis who never eat Biryani (in my own house, yes, thank you). There are desis who never eat a speck of spice. There are various degrees of food tolerance across cultures. Do I even get started on color? You have milk white skin tones through every shade of black and brown.

I'd like to see them.

There is art and music, experienced in different ways by every individual in the same community. There are traditions and modified customs. Someone would have grand prayer temples in the houses, others won't. Someone would rejoice in mehendi in all occasions, others won't. Someone lives on their own, others with a joint family.

And even then I realized, not many books in my favorite genre mentioned my routine, my thoughts, my cultural heritage. So when I picked up the pen myself, I was fortunate to be able to write about some of my life experiences.
Every single scenario is valid. It's a real person's lived experience, after all.

And seeing that in a happy romance book gives me hope. Hope that it's possible for everyone to be themselves. If the next-door desi character in the book can be different and happy, then I can be too. It gives me hope that we can break prejudices. Overcome fears.

So give it a chance and read culturally diverse romances with an open mind. Let’s enrich our minds. Various individual's dreams with a happy ending is the perfect recipe that the world needs. Nothing grand like a romance book to serve it with!

Here are some books that were important for me to experience a slice of my realities. Dukesofshadows

  1. The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

I grew up studying British rule on India and the struggle for freedom in schools. I learned that as many oppressive and cruel individuals existed causing the centuries of misery, there were also a few allies. And collateral damages from both ends. We have Bollywood movies portraying some stories like this. Lagaan, Krishna, if I may name a few.

The hero, who has an English title but Indian parentage right in the middle of the revolution going in India, was immediately relatable to me. Without going into details (a complicated topic in itself) the author portrayed a vivid picture of places in India, very similar to what I grew up to, respectful mentions of the religious items, palace and kings, the subtle hint at the politics within. Mostly, more than half of the novel takes place in India. The romance is angsty and heartwarming both.

  1. Borne to be Wilde by Eloisa James

Born to be wildeThe book and the series are my favorite for many reasons such as the peacock! But this book specifically gave me joy. Parth is the name of my favorite Mahabharat character, the archer Arjun. So I was delighted to read a whole book with the hero called Parth. But she also made him a power house, sensitive and well, yes, rich in the established world of regency. I hadn't seen it much before.

 

  1. 3. The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas Artoftheft

If you are anything like me, you have already devoured the lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas. I secretly online-stalk her :-D But this book is special to me. Right in the stakes there is Maharani of Ajmer. The singular idea in the west that royals in India are rolling in gold and nothing much else was neatly handled and countered here. Not only Maharani of Ajmer is a single mother, a widow, but is also a queen who takes care of their people. She has to be diplomatic, cautious and skilful with her resources. And like a normal person she also loves. No spoilers, but I loved seeing this piece in the book!

  1. Blame it on the Duke by Lenora Bell

BellThis could be surprising for readers who already read it. Yes, there are no desi characters in the book. And that's why it is a great example of how even the smallest detail of cultural rep could be important and valid. The heroine here is determined to translate Kamasutra, which is in Sanskrut. (I know, I know, but separate topic.) I studied Sanskrut in my my middle and high school for 4 years. I have a great affinity with Sanskrut and anything related to translation. This book inspired me. If that heroine can do it… I can too, right?

In my own book, the heroine, is translating Sanskrut Mahabharat manuscripts. Each chapter starts with a slice of that story Sing translation. Without Lenora Bell writing this book, I'd not have seen myself doing it.

Of course I could keep going on, but I will refrain myself now. Here are a few more of my already-read or TBR books which I hope to read soon. If I may, mentioned my own book as well.

What are your favorite romance books in which you saw a slice of your cultural life and it brought you joy?


#RomBkLove 2021 Day 18: Mental Health & Therapy

Day 18

Guest post by Hannah Hearts Romance,  @hannahheartsro1

Mental health in Romance

I love that so many authors are writing stories that show how mental illness impacts people and relationships. Too often in other genres, the “realistic” depictions of mental health challenges lean toward despair and hopelessness. In romance, even if the stories get dark we know we are heading toward a happy ending. Considering how many of us have struggled with mental health (whether diagnosed or not), it can be so healing and comforting to see those characters find love and belonging.

For my official #RomBkLove post I want to highlight books that include descriptions of mental health treatment or depict therapy on-page. Although by nature fictional therapy has to focus on moving the story forward more than the accuracy of the therapeutic techniques, I think that positive portrayals of mental health treatment can help demystify the process and even encourage people to seek therapy!

Atinypiece of something

A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra -- Reid is at a point in his mental health recovery journey that he knows he needs to make a change. He leaves his strained relationship with his parents and his codependent ex-boyfriend behind and heads down to Florida, where he meets Brazilian dive instructor Joaquim. Back home, everyone only knows Reid in relation to his mental illness but Joaquim only sees Reid. This book is surprisingly soft considering that Reid has been dealing with some serious challenges including self-harm and suicidal thoughts. He was in residential treatment and continues to participate in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and takes medication. I love the conversations between Reid and Joaquim as Reid starts to feel safe enough to share that part of himself with Joaquim. (CW: descriptions of depressive and hypomanic mood episodes, non-suicidal self-harm, anxiety and panic attack, reference to past suicidal ideation, MC was in codependent relationship)

 

Emptynet avon galeEmpty Net by Avon Gale -- I love the way MM sports romance can really tackle the issue of toxic masculinity and how it negatively impacts the mental health of athletes. In Empty Net, Laurent is traded to the team of his archnemesis, Isaac. Well, really the whole team is his nemesis due to Laurent’s history of “despicable” behavior. But turns out Laurent is escaping demons of his own and struggles with a significant dose of self-loathing. As Isaac starts to break down Laurent’s walls and Laurent learns to care for himself, their bond becomes stronger than anything they’ve experienced before. This book has one of the most realistic portrayals of therapy that I’ve read in romance. It’s somewhat truncated for (I assume) plotting purposes, but I would totally refer someone to the therapist in this book! (CW: descriptions of past physical/emotional abuse, homophobia and homophobic slurs, references to conversion therapy, character used to be homeless, character with eating disorder and self harm (shown on-page), on-page physical fights/assault)

 

Equivalent exchangeEquivalent Exchange by Christina C. Jones -- This was one of the first romances with on-page therapy I read and is a long-standing favorite. Keris has left an abusive relationship and is looking for a fresh start. She ends up working for Laken as a graphic designer for his brewery. They both go through a lot in this book, but one of the things I love about it is (I will never phrase this better than in my original review, so pardon me as I steal from myself) it’s about imperfect people being imperfect together and demanding growth of each other. I love that Keris feels no shame about going back to her therapist when she knows she needs some more support. (CW: descriptions of past abusive relationship, sexual assault, past child abuse, addiction and overdose death, parental death (happens in course of story), infertility, MC is divorced)

 

I can’t wait to see what everyone else recommends for this prompt. I’m always looking for more books that address mental health, and so many romance authors are doing it so well! And in case anyone is inspired to try therapy for themselves, I wanted to include a few resources to check out:

 

Inclusive Therapists( inclusivetherapists.com)

Melanin and Mental Health (melaninandmentalhealth.com)

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (nqttcn.com)

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective (openpathcollective.org)