I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
Darling Beast is book #7 in Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series. It is about Apollo Greaves, recent escapee from Bedlam, who lives in secret at a ruined pleasure garden. Also seeking refuge at the garden is acclaimed actress Lily Stump. She's out of work after leaving a theater to work for Mr. Harte at his pleasure garden, but she also secretly writes plays. Apollo is the twin sister of Artemis, the heroine from book #6.
What worked: Lily is a plucky heroine. I liked the class differences (which are known to the reader but not to Lily for a while). Apollo is a kind, good-natured, funny hero. He refers to his brother-in-law, the Duke of Wakefield as His Grace the Ass, which is completely accurate. After a brutal beating, Apollo lost the use of his voice. How he copes with that was, at times, sweet and funny. I'm also a nature lover so all of the talk of gardens and flowers and ponds and trees was lovely. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery is all over this book as a secondary character. He's a scene-stealer, but since I adore him, it worked for me.
What didn't work as well: this story starts out slowly and took me a while to get into. There's an element of Beauty and the Beast early on that didn't quite click, maybe because Apollo is nothing like Beast.
I did like Lily and Apollo together. Clearing Apollo's name is not an easy trick and I really wasn't sure how that was going to work out exactly.
A fine addition to the series with lots of starry nights, a scrappy, talented working-class heroine, and a sweet hero who is almost too good for this world of machinations.
Whoa. This book could possibly be my favorite Maiden Lane story. I'd been waiting to read the Duke of Wakefield's story and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.
Artemis Greaves is a lady's companion to her cousin Penelope when a family scandal leaves her with no other options. Her beloved twin brother Apollo has spent four years in Bedlam after being (falsely) accused of murdering three friends. "Madness" runs in their family and it's thought that Bedlam would be a better option than a hangman's noose.
Maximus Batten, priggish Duke of Wakefield by day, Ghost of St. Giles by night. (Yes! Like Batman only less grim.There's also a bat cave.) And his name is Maximus! Artemis learns his secret and decides to blackmail Maximus to get his help freeing her brother.
What I loved: everything. Okay, a heroine you want to hang out with. Artemis is a survivor who had an unconventional upbringing but is making the best of it. (Penelope would be a trial to work for.) She's also devoted to her brother, possibly one of the only people trying to help him. She's funny and she's bold and I loved how Maximus fell for her. Hard. I also loved Maximus. He's a great mix of uptight on the outside but unraveled underneath. Artemis bring out the wild side of a guy who seems like he doesn't have one. The little touches of Greek mythology were nice too.
What didn't work for me: no complaints here. If you're a dog lover there are four dogs in this story. Not my cuppa, but they were cute.
Some of the scenes in Bedlam were hard to read. I'd forgotten that people used to be allowed to go on tours to visit such places. The conditions and the treatment of mental illness seemed accurate and appalling.
I highly recommend this book and this series. :)
***A new character makes his debut in the epilogue. Hi, Val.
Working my way through Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series, I thought it would make sense to get to the first book, Wicked Intentions. I'd heard that the series picked up speed and heat-level, but I really enjoyed book #1.
The story starts in St. Giles at the Foundling Home, run by Temperance and her brother Winter. A mysterious earl, Lord Caire, asks for Temperance's help in solving a murder. This book is a slow burn and it took me a while to get into Lazarus as a hero. He's icy, removed, and bitter, but he doesn't want to be. Temperance is widowed and desperate to find a new patron for the Foundling Home. They need each other but don't really admit or act on their attraction until well into the book.
It was worth the wait. (Still fanning myself.)
I loved getting to see the original Foundling Home. Winter Makepeace (one of my fav Hoyt heroes) plays a significant role in this book too. We also meet Hero Batten (heroine of book #2), Silence (the youngest Makepeace sibling), Pirate Charming Mickey, and Godric St. John. The main focus stayed on Lazarus and Temperance though and I really liked them as a couple. I liked that they accepted the worst parts of each other. It's an odd romance, but is a great start (I know, I know) to a wonderful series.
I love Kristen Callihan's voice. Her heroines are smart, down to earth, and funny. Her heroes can verge on the side of almost-perfect--and once they fall for the heroine, they are totally gone for her. This generally works for me because I love a caring alpha (and these guys aren't super alpha) and can barely abide an alphahole. Anyway, Managed was a similar story. Sophie, a photographer, is accidentally seated in first class next to Gabriel, the manager of a huge rock band. He wants to be alone. She isn't budging. They bicker and banter and grow closer over the long flight from New York to London.
The conflict is mostly internal and mostly on Gabriel's part. He doesn't let people in. This makes him the last to realize that he's fallen for Sophie. For a Callihan hero, that means he keeps her close to him, but doesn't have sex with her. Sigh. In some ways this is an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers. I loved the little moments between them like when she straightened his tie and brought him tea in a cup (that looked like a disposable one but wasn't). Gabriel was probably the best part of the book for me: English, stern, disciplined, but underneath all heart and protectiveness, and yes, scared of many things. Control freaks, which is how he is described, can be quite anxious.
While it was a long wait for them to finally have sex, their scenes were hot and showed that their walls were down. I wasn't really into the rock band aspect and while the band members and founders and an assistant played a role, it wasn't all concert-focused.
What I loved: the humor, the tenderness, a hero you fall for
What didn't work so well: too many references from the 80s and 90s that I don't think twenty-something characters would make, some pacing issues
It was a nice, escapist read which was exactly what I was looking for. I received this book from a fellow BL reviewer Rachel's Books (back in November 2016) and that didn't affect my review at all. :) Thanks again, Rachel!
I'm a huge Kresley Cole fan, so I was excited to read a new Immortals After Dark/Dacian story. It's also Cole's first m/m. In short, I really liked it. The trope was friends to lovers mixed with gay for you. (Not my fav tropes, but I thought they were well done.) There were also some (light) BDSM moments between Mirceo and Caspion. Great tension, heroes you can root for, and nice character arcs for both. I also love a good demon story and this delivered. AND, Lothaire made an appearance and was ridiculous and OTT as ever. May he never change. ;)
TW: for childhood abuse/neglect/bullying. It's brief but graphic.
Book blogging is awesome and it's even more fun if you can blog about books in different ways. The book reviews are great, they give you a full insight into the read and present the core information. But you can give a book shout out in several different ways. Here are 5 more that are worth checking and trying out on your book blog.
On BookLikes you can use 5 different post styles from the wooden bar on the top of your Dashboard. To write a given post, click a desirable section and you'll be moved to an editor -- each post type has got a different template and will stand out on your Dashboard and on your BookLikes blog page.
Have a look at the specific blog types in more details and choose the one that best fits you and your writings.
This is the main book blogging format used by the majority of book bloggers. On BookLikes you can write a book review from number of places, just click the book cover and then +Post.
You can also write directly from your Dashboard, click Tex from the wooden bar and you'll be moved to a general text editor.
To mark a text as a review make sure to check the Review box on the right and add the rating stars. Here's how the final outcome will look like on your blog (the look will vary according to the blog design):
If you've missed our recent posts about all the book review places and BookLikes tips, please have a look here:
Reviewing several books at once is not a standard procedure but it's handy when reviewing a book series or doing a monthly reading summary. On BookLikes you can add up to 10 books to your single post. Just use the search box and add all the titles you wish to cover in your review.
The final version of this kind of post can look like this:
Sharing book quotes from your favorite titles is spreading word and what's a better praise for a book? The special post format makes the quote stand out both on your Dashboard and in the blog view.
Book blogging is not always about reviewing, it's also about sharing fun pics enhancing the book love and promoting new books.
You can upload up to 10 images in one photo post. The photo post can be connected with a book or books.
If you're a book tuber, feel free to add your video reviews and if you prefer to share book related mini movies, please do. We love them! Adding the video is super easy on BookLikes, all you need to do it add the URL or the embed code and voila! You can connect the vide with a book if you wish.
Here are couple of videos that made our day:
You can use your BookLikes page as a companion to your other webpages and another way of sharing your reviews and news. The URL post type can link to your other webpage or an article you found interesting and worth sharing.
Here's an example:
Which blog post type is your favorite?
Never Better is the third of Charlotte Stein's Dark Obsession contemporary series. Not quite erotic and not quite New Adult, each story centers on a couple, at least one of whom is in college. Never Better is about Lydia, the best friend and roommate of Letty, the heroine from Never Sweeter.
I'm not sure what to make of this story. I usually love Stein's writing and this one just didn't work for me. It felt overly long at the beginning and the ending (and revelations) were too abrupt.
What I liked: I adore Stein's voice--it's neurotic and self-conscious and wonderful. I also really liked Lydia from book #2. Once in her POV, she's less sarcastic and funny, but we also find out (in the Prologue) that she was nearly assaulted and struggles with PTSD. Letty and Lydia's friendship doesn't get many scenes, but I loved how they support each other. The romance is a slow-build with a protective alpha hero.
What I didn't like: I felt like the pacing was off and the story could have been longer. I also didn't like that Lydia's PTSD was "cured" by self-defense lessons from Isaac, the hero. Yes, really. There are lots of ways people cope, but the dismissal of actual mental health treatment was frustrating. And, fwiw, self-defense training is not an effective treatment of PTSD. Some of the setting didn't work. There were several locations (group therapy room, "training" room, and a diner) that were so rotting they would have been condemned. Lydia made jokes about these places, but it took me out of the story to picture them in such (needlessly) horrible places. Also, Isaac, was too much of a blank slate. I found out after I read it that he was a hit man. I appreciate the value of show don't tell, but there's so little about him, that he didn't feel real. So, yes, he's protective, but I wanted more scenes between him and Lydia after the big reveal so we could see his guilt, etc.
I'm on the fence about the sex scenes. There was plenty of tension leading up to them, which was classic Stein (and great). However, the staging was a little odd. There was so much build-up, I needed to see the other side of it. It felt short-handed, at least a little.
I adore this series. I have no idea how Kate Canterbary writes six (seven?) books all with the same timeline. It's impressive.
This story is about Erin, the next to youngest Walsh, and the one who basically ran away and hasn't come back. We've gotten glimmers of both what drove her away as well as ways she's stayed connected (and not) with her siblings. Erin is a tricky heroine--she's prickly, isolated, and has been hurt (badly) in the past. In some ways, I would have wanted to read more of how she found her way toward connecting with others. That part was summarized in the book, somewhat frustratingly, as an odd version of therapy. But, kudos to Canterbary for having a character actually go to therapy and work on their problems.
I thought the way Erin falls in love and hides her relationship was totally in character, but at times it drove me crazy. She could not have had a more understanding and patient partner in Nick. I loved how they fit together and how he seemed to understand her, easily, more than most of her family. I can't imagine her with anyone else.
Erin and her sister Shannon have a tumultuous past. Their scenes together were probably my favorite. So much conflict, so much pain. Canterbary stayed true to both women and I loved their reconciliation.
Canterbary's writing is beautiful. Romantic, great pacing, funny, sexy, and addresses all kinds of family issues with maturity and grace. I love her writing and can't wait for the next book. :)
This is the third book in Dakota Gray's contemporary romance series, centering on three male friends. The book is told entirely in the hero's POV. I loved it. Duke is an attorney, blessed with being born into a family of attorneys, but wants to be his own person and make partner at a firm that isn't his father's. He's a bit of an alphahole--mostly in the way that he's incredibly ambitious and a workaholic. Three years prior, after (during?) a holiday party, he drunkenly has sex with Kennedy, a woman who owns a courier service for attorneys. The sex is hot, possibly too intense for Kennedy who initially rejects Duke.
Can you feel the angst yet? There's so much angst. So, there's a second chance at love/hooking up, which is nice. Also, Kennedy is a great heroine. She takes no shit (especially from Duke) and she's the kind of person you want to be friends with.
But, really, the story is all about Duke. I rarely like alphaholes, but for him, I was all in. It's probably because he struggles with it so much AND, his grovel is SO GOOD. I love Gray's writing and I trust her, so I knew going in that whatever dickish behavior Duke would do, he'd also have to answer for.
If you haven't read this series, I strongly encourage you to. It's funny, sexy, angsty, and a great escape.
I've posted pictures before of the Boston ducklings wearing sporting gear to celebrate the city's sports teams. But today they're wearing something even more awesome. They are all wearing pink pussyhats in solidarity with the thousands of people in the US and around the world who are taking part in the Women's March.
I picked this up when it was on sale this past week. It's about Gavin Strong, the new Canadian Prime Minister, and Ellie Montague, a grad student on a summer internship in his office. The hook for me was the hero as PM. Ahem. Gaven and Ellie circle around their attraction, failing to stay away from each other. The heat level was high and there were plenty of steamy scenes.
What worked for me: the hero, the setting, and the sweet way Gavin and Ellie can't stay away from each other
What didn't work so well: this is a minor gripe, but Gavin's main meals were pizza and beer. The sheer repetition bothered me, but also, that he, at age 39, ate that way. Yes, it made him relatable, but I find it hard to believe the PM wouldn't have a chef, etc. Also, Gavin's pet name for Ellie was Sprite. Made me think of the soda every time.
This was fun and kind of escapist--exactly what I needed. The BDSM elements were well-done. I look forward to reading more in this series.
So I'm making my way through Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series completely out of order, but I am enjoying each installment. This is the third book in the series. It is about Silence Hollingbrook, one of the siblings who runs the foundling home in St. Giles. She's recently been widowed and has taken care of a baby girl who was left on her doorstep (see book #2). Charming Mickey O'Connor is a river pirate, and also the father of the little girl Silence has been caring for. Silence and Mickey are thrown together when his daughter is threatened by the Vicar of Whitechapel, Mickey's rival.
It's not quite an enemies-to-lovers, but it is a slow burn as Silence is disgusted by Mickey for much of the first third of the book. Well, disgusted but also secretly attracted as he's quite handsome.
I thought Silence and Mickey's relationship had solid obstacles to overcome. I also enjoyed that Mickey was a fully-realized river pirate--complete with tight pants, a loose white shirt, long black hair, and rings on every finger. He's a shameless hero and was often quite fun. I also liked how he fell for Silence and let her in.
The smexy scenes were fun and earned in the last third of the book. I also loved how the pace picked up at the end.
Silence was likable but not my favorite heroine. She's defined by her relationships to others instead of any real motivations of her own, which was frustrating. At times she was like a ping pong ball going between Mickey and her family, although that probably not unrealistic for the times.
I adore Hoyt's writing and love this series, so I'm looking forward to reading the rest. :)
I think the title of this post is more of a goal than an actuality right now. I have maybe six books going. I can't get into any of them. Some of them I stalled out on prior to the election. But since last Tuesday, nothing sounds good. I even went to the library and grabbed some comfort reads and random crazy-sauce new-to-me books. Still, nothing.
Instead, I've been busy with a little activism, writerly meetings, and lots and lots of dayjob. I miss reading romance and I know I'll get back to it soon. It's just hard when something that's been such a standby isn't quite doing it for me.
Ravishing the Heiress is about an arranged marriage between Millie, the only child of a wealthy canned goods merchant and Fitz, a man who comes into an earldom with properties nearly in ruins. Due to this arrangement, Fitz and Millie agree to a marriage in name only for six (then it expands to eight) years. It's set in England in the late Victorian era and told in dual timelines--the first, from their meeting and through the early years of their marriage, and the second, the date Fitz's childhood sweetheart returns, now a widow, and they plan to resume their relationship. Yeah. The hero, after eight years of marriage to the heroine plans to set up his former love as his mistress.
This was the first Sherry Thomas story I read. I have mixed feelings about this story, but I definitely am going to read more of her backlist. Her writing is gorgeous and angsty. I loved her voice. There were threads early on that reminded me of 90s-era Judith McNaught stories, where you can feel how much your heart is going to break. (Ah, the swoons!)
But, this story, in the end, didn't really work for me. It's a friends-to-lovers and most of the book the hero, Fitz is in love with another woman, Isabelle. He's clueless about Millie, who secretly has loved him from their first meeting. I kept waiting for Fitz to show that he had earned Millie's love and that didn't quite happen. Then I waited for him to have an epic grovel. That also didn't happen. The ending felt rushed and Isabelle stuck around WAY TOO LONG. Still, there were quiet, sweet moments and a few smexy ones between Fitz and Millie that were lovely. I have mixed emotions about Millie as well. While reading it, she seemed to be protecting her heart and too proud to just put her heart out there. However, by the end I really wanted her to just stand up for herself. So while I'm not sure the hero deserved her, Millie gave him so much room to trample over her feelings (and sense of self-respect) too.
Hopefully Thomas' other books will work better for me because there were several things in this story that had me hooked and craving more.
Perv blew up on twitter last weekend and lived up to the hype. I totally loved it. Hero is a cocky guy who is really into a certain part of a woman's anatomy and is apparently quite skilled at bringing women pleasure. The heroine takes him down several notches. I adored her. It was funny, sexy, and had some unexpected moments of heart and angst. Bonus for several scenes highlighting women's friendships.
This is the first book in a series about three guys (the hero and his friends). A sexy book that hits the feels too. Can't wait for the next one.
I bought this audiobook because I love Million Dollar Listing New York and Fredrik is perhaps my favorite agent on the show. He's hilarious, works hard, and has clearly found his calling as a real estate agent. He seems like someone who could sell anything to anyone. He's charming and driven. I wouldn't normally read a book about selling. It's not something I'm good at or interested in, but know that I need to be as a (future) author.
The Sell is entertaining, engaging, and heart-felt. Of course Fredrik did the audio for his book, which, I think, is the best way to experience it. (Yes, he high-kicks and squees.) :) My favorite parts were the glimpses into his daily life which consist of long days, multitasking with phones, delegating tasks that don't make him money, and sweet moments where he talks about his husband Derek.
As a fan, I really loved this book. As someone learning about selling techniques, I definitely learned some strategies too. I appreciated his focus on relationships, both in terms of business dealings, and one's personal life.
Highly recommend to fans of the show and/or to anyone who wants to learn about selling techniques from a natural.