I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
I think it's been two weeks since I've finished a book. I keep skipping around my TBR. Not sure if it's a phase because life's been so busy lately or what.
What's your favorite book that you've read in the last few weeks?
I totally loved this book. I read it in basically one sitting and then promptly bought the audiobook. *happy dance
Wicked Abyss is the latest in Kresley Cole's IAD series, and another featuring the Morior, the baddies. Abyssian, or Sian, is now the king of a hell-plane, Pandemonia (featured in Dark Skye). Calliope, or Lila, is a fey princess who is sent to spy on Sian so that she can return to her fey realm and marry the fey king Saetth. Lila is a reincarnate of Sian's deceitful mate, Kari. Sian is dying to punish Lila for all the things Kari did to him.
This story is a fairytale retelling of beauty and the beast. Lila is a plucky heroine to takes no shit. I adored her. She's scrappy and fearless. Sian has a grudge but he can't help but admire Lila's determination, nor can he ignore the fact that she's his mate. He's a trickster, intent on sentencing her to various "hell's labors" but she keeps finding ways around them.
Absolutely adored this book in the IAD series. Loved Sian and Lila together. Cole's trademark humor and sexy scenes were exceptionally strong in this book.
I bought this book off some reviews on twitter. The tropes are enemies to lovers, best friend's older brother, and a bit of a road romance. But half-way through, the book lost me. There was a surprise biker gang, including a half-day's ride, all kinds of weird ideas about mental health treatment and privacy, as well as a heaping dose of income-shaming (SES-shaming?) that both the hero and the best friend do to the heroine. Normally, I would have just DNF'd, but after that, I wanted to finish to see if it redeemed itself. *grumbles
I think part of what didn't work for me--aside from the MC insertion which felt odd--was the premise. Bethany, the best friend, decides to voluntarily enter rehab for drinking but doesn't want her brother Bram to know. Not only would this never work--esp since she's on his health insurance and he'd get the EOBs pretty quickly for a program like that--it made no sense for her or Aspen, the heroine, not to tell him. Recovery is a positive step, often taken because people are scared but wanting to get better. Bethany's decision also came on the heels of an abusive relationship and a really bad bender. None of this should be something someone goes through without the support of their friend(s) and family. Even though Bram is presented as a stern older brother, he's incredibly supportive of his sister. I never bought into the idea that he would somehow be mad at her for seeking help. So, to me, it set up a big secret that didn't need to be kept. If anything, it made Aspen come across as enabling--which was a theme for her.
The positives: the forced-proximity road trip of Bram and Aspen had a good set-up. Lots of bickering and shifting power dynamics. My total catnip. I also liked Bram. He was stern but protective and caring. The smexy scenes were pretty hot. Some of them were definitely hate-sex, which I appreciate the difficulty in pulling off.
The negatives: after about the middle of the book, things went off the rails (see above) and the plot felt a bit disjointed. Aspen keeps the big secret but Bethany is still really mad at her. Wha? There was a magical fix (hint: it's Bram) for all of Aspen's and her mother's financial woes or any other problems. Yes, that's the allure of a billionaire romance, but ultimately, it was just too much. Too many things thrown into the mix. I wanted Aspen to save herself or just stand on her own two feet more.
This book is definitely one of those where your mileage may vary. I am bummed it didn't work for me.
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.