I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
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.
I loved this book. It was angsty, showed many Arcana in full use of their powers, and explored their thorny alliances. It ended on another cliffhanger that had me tapping my nook for more pages.
I am thoroughly #TeamJack and (no spoilers, promise), what happened to him at the end of Dead of Winter gutted me. I read Arcana Rising dying for information about him.
I loved the scenes in the first third where Evie was full-on rage-mode using her powers. Anger fueled her, which we've seen in pieces and certain scenes (which are awesome!), but this was scene after scene as the Red Witch. I was right there with her.
We finally get to meet Evie's grandmother, her Tarasova. I'd anticipated her being loving but firm. She is way more intense in her role as Chronicler than I'd thought--all about the game.
I also enjoyed Evie's scenes with Sol and even with Zara (Fortune). I love the world-building and the sheer scrappiness of the characters.
The theme of fate versus free will continues in this book in the series. Again there are stories from past games that affect the relationships between the players and their ability to trust each other. Evie had dismissed them as "that was then, this is now" in previous books (somewhat), but this time those stories from past games had a strong sense of foreboding, which I liked. There was also a sweet thread of love between the players--beyond the Jack-Evie-Aric triangle. Post Apocalyptic badasses need love too. ;)
I can't wait for the next book. It comes out Spring 2017.
Right Through Me is the first book in Shannon McKenna's new series, The Obsidian Files. I adore her books and this one was no different. I'd categorize it as paranormal romantic suspense, which is where her McCloud series ended up as well.
Right Through Me is about Noah, the leader of a group of modified supersoldiers, and Caro, a woman who witnessed a murder and is wanted by the big bad (also a modified supersoldier) for her brain wave ability to open something. Noah and his friends have taken new identities and become billionaires by creating bio-tech inventions, BUT, they also want to get back at the group of psychopaths--the Obsidian group--who experimented on them and then wanted to destroy them.
I loved the opening scene where Caro is hired as a belly-dancer to surprise Noah--during a board meeting. It was intense, awkward, and sexy. We got an up-close of how Noah's modifications fritz-out. It's almost like heavy applications of sexytimes would help him...*cough.
Caro was plucky and strong and caring. She grudgingly accepts Noah's help but she really wants to clean up her own mess. I loved her independence even though I wanted to tell her to trust Noah much sooner than she did. Noah is a bossy, control freak alpha male, who tends toward watch-and-see to keep the people he cares about safe. I won't spoil this, but, trust that he has to change these views. (Heh.) I appreciated his alpha tendencies, mostly because he worked hard to reign them in with Caro and he doesn't venture into alpha-hole territory.
The sexytimes were awesome. Hot--so hot!--with the connection between Noah and Caro turning and tightening with each scene.
The paranormal world-building was great--techy but with a focus on the human experience of being changed (and tortured) as well as the emotional cost of such enhancements. Backstory was handled well--little sprinkles and no info-dumps. McKenna's scenes are intense and, and, at times, violent, but not over the top for me.
TW: for threatened sexual assault and threats about hurting a child; plenty of fight scenes, some of which are a bit gory.
So excited about this new series! *fangirl-flails
Day Zero is a companion book to Kresley Cole's Young Adult series, The Arcana Chronicles. As a huge fan of the series, I totally loved it. Day Zero refers to the day of The Flash, the apocalyptic event that starts the next "game" between the players/characters. Normally, I'm a fan of reading books out of order (yes, such a rebel!), but for this, it's chock full of spoilers from the first three books. While it did follow some story structure across the chapters--which were each full descriptions (er, mostly) of the 22 Tarot cards--I'm not sure it would mean much to someone who hasn't read at least the first book.
I thought Day Zero adds to the series, little details that we wouldn't get otherwise, that more fully round out the supporting characters. I loved learning more about Selena, Finn, and Joules, as well as other cards we haven't met yet. I also appreciate the diversity and global-span of the players backgrounds and identities.
As for the Evie-Jack-Aric love triangle, it lives on in this companion book. With separate chapters from Aric and Jack, we learn more about these guys and, importantly, why they're so crazy in love with Evie. Swoon. I'm firmly #TeamJack, but Aric's chapters are absolutely heart-breaking.
Cannot wait for the next book, Arcana Rising, to come out!!
So, last night, I reblogged a review about a book I've been excited to read. It was meant to be a reminder to myself to read it. Then, in scrolling down, I read the post and comments about how reblogging reviews is not done here on BL. I tried to delete my reblog last night and tried again just now. Sigh. We'll see.
*finally gets the book I've been meaning to read for months.
I really like Annika Martin/Carolyn Crane's books, but this one was just okay for me. The set-up was strong, reunited childhood friends on opposite sides of a Russian mafia war, but it just lost steam.
The pacing was fine and I even thought the actions scenes were strong, but the romance--ahem, and the alluded to dirty sex--was few and far between and not particularly dirty.
So, if you are the type of reader who is annoyed when characters in a romantic suspense story stop during a chase scene to have sex, this is the book for you. I, however, never mind when that happens. ;)
A final note: I liked Mira and Aleksio as a couple. Their character arcs were subtle and made sense, I was just expecting more of a dark romance.
YouKneeK found that Dawid Piaskowski stopped being Booklikes' "CEO and cofounder" in April 2016. I discovered that Joanna Grzelak-Piaskowska, Booklikes' other cofounder and owner, sold Booklikes in 2016 ("After selling Okazjum.pl to Bauer Media Group in 2015 and BookLikes in 2016, Joanna with her husband are already working on something new."). Considering the info about Dawid, I would guess that the sale happened sometime last month.
I've searched Google and several business and company info databases and have been unable to find anything about the new owner(s). Dawid Piaskowski is still listed as the owner of the site's domain name.
If anyone finds any other info, please let the rest of us know! At the moment, I'm most concerned about the owner's plans. If they intended to keep the site running, wouldn't they have introduced themselves? And, if they didn't intend to keep it running, what did they buy it for? All I can think that they might want is any data it has generated or collected. Which is a little worrisome.
Well, at least for books on your " to read" shelf. You can opt out and you can select which retailers. "Opt out" versus "opt-in" -- even for features I really want -- always offends me. Feel free to reblog.
See the announcement thread in a group less than 5% of goodreads members belong to for directions on opting out or customizing: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18114746-goodreads-deals-u-s-members?page=1#comment_number_1
I suppose it could be worse (for example if only listing Amazon deals) but cynical me thinks it's a way for Amazon to finally make use of goodreads member emails without technically being considered spam; a side-eyed way for authors to send their Amazon countdown deals and other promotions out to goodreads members who do not subscribe to their mailing lists or follow them without Amazon being accused of illegally harvesting emails not provided for that purpose. Ethically, I find opt-out as wrong as just doing it but technucally only just doing it is illegal.
Okay, it's worse. Update: Pricing to be included in goodreads emails to members is forthcoming. https://www.goodreads.com/authors-advertisers . Finally authors can pay to email to goodreads members.
This is a great almost-companion book to Save the Cat. There are lots and lots of books about plotting and narrative structure, but almost none of them cover romance novels. And, yes, while the big structure is the same, the fact that the romance is a major part of the story means it needs to be cooked into the structure. I read one book that talked about how a love story can be a subplot--which it totally can--but that's not how romance novels work.
Anyway, Romancing the Beat is a great, short read. The tone is conversational and irreverent. Each chapter lists three songs from the 80s to highlight the "beat" of the story. This created instant ear worms, but was a great tool to get the tone of each beat.
I think RtB would work best for writers who are familiar with story structure. There's a lot of terminology that isn't explained. It worked for me because I was familiar with the concepts and could just zip along. I hope Hayes writes more books on craft for romance writers. This was apparently meant to be read in one sitting, but I would gladly read more. :)
I love Emma Holly's stories, regardless of which subgenre she writes. Star Crossed was fun and funny with some thrills thrown in too. It's almost a second chance at love as well. A.J. Hoyt is an ex-detective turned body guard who is assigned to Luke Channing, a young movie star who gets shot at at his latest movie premiere. It felt like a gender reversal, with A.J. as the tough, reserved protector, and Luke as a more fun-loving dude in distress.
It was sexy and sweet and a great read.
In a rustic Missiissippi tavern, a beautiful exiled princess was forced to dance for the pleasure of others--unaware of her regal birthright...and infuriated by a magnificent golden-eyed devil who crossed an ocean to possess her.
A bold and brazen prince came to America to claim his promised bride. But the spirited vixen spurned his affections while inflaming his royal blood with passion's fire...impelling virile Stefan Barany to take in sensuous and searing conquest the love Tatiana vowed never to yield.
This is the fourth book in Christina Lauren's Wild Seasons series. I've read the first three (in order!) and was looking forward to this one. The hero, Luke, is the high school sweetheart and ex-boyfriend of Mia, the heroine from book #1 (Sweet Filthy Boy). I don't remember if Luke had any dialogue in the first book, or if his scenes with Mia were mostly told in flashback. Either way, I remember him as a bit of a let-down.
The heroine of this story is London who is roommates with Lola (heroine from book #3) and tangentially friends with Mia. Whew. Clear as mud? Essentially, we have a heroine who faces breaking girl code to be with the hero. That conflict was interesting.
The other big(ger) point of conflict between Luke and London was that Luke is a player, I think London refers to him as a manwhore. All she wants from him when they first meet--and she has no idea he's Mia's ex--is a one night stand. But, for some reason, Luke wants more. London also had an ex who cheated on her, so she has trust issues with guys.
What worked for me: I liked Luke and London as a couple. My favorite scenes were when it was just the two of them. I also liked that London respected Mia enough to call her and tell her about Luke. It was so assertive. (Go, London!) I also liked Luke, mostly. He was a well-developed character. He had to work to woo London. For so much of the book, he wants more and she absolutely doesn't. That tension was strong. The sex scenes were trademark Christina Lauren--strong, slightly kinky, and a great metaphor for where the couple is in their relationship.
There's also a long explanation for how to surf. As a midwesterner trapped in the middle of a continent, I appreciated this level of detail. At least I can imagine surfing in a more accurate way. ;)
What didn't work for me: there's a lot of navel-gazing. The level of angst didn't match up with the amount of navel-gazing. Harlow's (heroine from book #2) control over whether London felt like she could date Luke wasn't my favorite, although it was consistent with her overbearing character. And, hey, I like Harlow, but London gave her way too much power.
Also, there's sort-of a misunderstanding about Luke's phone. (***Mild spoiler alert***) One conversation about the phone could have helped so much. But, no.
And, I'm side-eyeing the fact that Mia, Harlow, Lola, and Luke were all besties since elementary school. I mean, I guess? But not only were they besties with him, he was portrayed as The Perfect Boyfriend. This was unnecessary and over the top. I'm all in for the reformed rake trope. Luke didn't need to be that perfect. (For example, he would perform weekly errands in high school for his group of female friends. Sweet, but too much.)
One more thing: while the title works for the continuity of the series, I still can't figure out why it was given to this book. I have no idea who the wicked sexy liar is, not that it matters.
This New Adult series has an escapist quality to it, which is nice. There's sun, sand, waves (London is a surfer), and warm southern California days and nights. I wanted a little bit more out of the twists and turns of Luke and London getting to their HEA, but it was sweet (and cute!) when they worked it all out.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Never Sweeter is the second book in Charlotte Stein's Dark Obsession series. I haven't read the first yet, but I have read several of her other novels and novellas. I adore her voice. She writes in an almost stream-of-consciousness, neurotic way. But it works for me. It so works. You can get inside a character's head, usually the heroine, and feel her awkwardness and blossoming joy.
I'm not sure I would have read this book if I didn't already really like Stein's other stories and trust her as an author. The premise is that Letty, a college student, runs into her high school bully, Tate, when he takes a class with her. Yeah. The hero used to bully the heroine.
While enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes (and this has a little friends-to-lovers too), this felt a bit different. I had to grit my teeth at first. But, again, because I trust the author, I kept going. I'm glad I did.
Years after the bullying stopped, but not the effects certainly, Letty winds up in the same class with Tate, titled Sex in Film, and he now wants to talk with her. They even get paired in a semester-long assignment.
There is so much tension in each scene as Letty runs from Tate, finds that he helps her, and begins to explore a friendship, of sorts, with him. Tate is apologetic and wants to make amends and show her that he's a different person and she didn't deserve any of how he (and another guy at school) treated her.
There is also a bubbling, brewing sexual tension between them. It is heartbreaking to see Letty struggle to trust and believe that she is attractive and that the guy who had hurt her would ever be kind to her. While it's told in third person, we don't get Tate's POV, so we never get to see what he really thinks of Letty. We're left with how he treats her.
I'm trying very hard not to be spoilery because reasons, I suppose. I will say that Tate's arc is impressive and the romance worked for me. The dude gave some very good grovel. He may not be redeemable for every reader, but for me, he was.
The smexy scenes were crazy hot. Letty gains in confidence and it is lovely to see. It seems to be both due to Tate but also a growing sense of herself as strong. She also has a supportive friend Lydia who lives across the hall from her. (Yay, female friendships in romance!!) I loved how Letty worked at letting herself trust Lydia too. She needed an ally and Lydia was a great one.
So, potential trigger warning for bullying. We get one instance of seeing it in the prologue, but otherwise Letty brings up certain incidents. I believe that Stein wrote a compelling story that understands the depth of the harm that bullying can do.
It was a helluva place to start for a romance. I found myself gripping my Nook, making all kinds of faces as to whether and how it would all work out. It's a well-written romance, so it does. But there's a lot of angst, both for the characters and as a reader.
I highly recommend this story and any of Stein's backlist. We are friendly on twitter but that did not influence my review.
This is not really book related, this is me related. It's a cause incredibly important, and personal to me, so I thought I'd share it here. Kind of reluctantly actually, the whole idea of being so personal scares the bejeezus out of me, and I've mulled over whether to do this for days.. But here goes nothing..
So, today is Rare Disease Day.
And, I've just lost 95% of people's attention.
Fair enough. I can't dress a rare disease in funtastic cosplay for a selfie, I can't turn it into a ripping fantasy novel plot line, I can't make it into a hilarious Deadpool meme.
And, what does a rare disease matter? It's rare, right?! You'll probably never need to address it, it will probably never affect you directly, nor will you know somebody that has one. But you do. You know me. And I have a rare disease.
I have Parenchymal Neurological Behcet's Disease, which is a subset of Behcet's Disease proper. According to statistics, of the 24 million people in Australia, I am approximately only one of 116 in this country to be graced with it. So, I'm rare, bitches.
Let me tell you, I'm not fond of it. We aren't having a hell of a good time together. It's meaner than the popular clique in high school; except I don't get to leave this disease, and recreate myself in post-raredisease college.. Because it's incurable.
What I can do, is make people aware it exists. I can put some lights around it, spark em up, and let the world know “We Are Here” with big flashing strobes. We might be rare, but we will not be invisible.
If you've made it this far, you might be wondering what Parenchymal Neuro-Behcet's disease actually is! I appreciate your curiosity, thank you!
Here's the run down in technical terms from the all wise Wikipedia (or, you may check out the useful meme provided in the post for the tl;dr version) :
Behçet’s disease is recognized as a disease that cause inflammatory perivasculitis, inflammation of the tissue around a blood or lymph vessel, in practically any tissue in the body.
P-NBD main symptom is meningoencephalitis which happens in ~75 % of NBD patients. Other general symptoms of Behcet's disease are also present among parenchymal NBD patients such as fever, headache, genital ulcers, genital scars, and skin lesions. When the brainstem is affected, ophthalmoparesis, cranial neuropathy, and cerebellar or pyramidal dysfunction may be observed. Cerebral hemispheric involvement may result in encephalopathy, hemiparesis, hemisensory loss, seizures, dysphasia, and mental changes including cognitive dysfunction and psychosis. As for the spinal cord involvement, pyramidal signs in the limbs, sensory level dysfunction, and, commonly, sphincter dysfunction may be observed.
Some of the symptoms are less common such as stroke (1.5%), epilepsy (2.2-5 %),brain tumor, movement disorder, acute meningeal syndrome, and optic neuropathy
So, yup. It's all about the funz! Everyone loves a bit of Sphincter Dysfunction! Woot (or poot)! The basic gist, is that my blood vessels can become inflamed at any time, anywhere in my body. My body, actually hates itself enough to try and internally combust, without asking my permission first. Bad Rover! For me, Behcet's likes to stick around in my cranial region, cartilage in my joints (chondritis) and GI system; but occasionally it likes to travel to new and exciting locations! It's full of wanderlust! Others with Behcet's, can have different problematic areas, but it can attack anywhere blood travels in the body. So, my toenails are safe-ish.
I'm lucky enough to be on a medication that controls the mouth and genital ulcers. You have no idea how good it feels to be able to sit without gingerly mincing about on a seat to find a position, that doesn't make your undercarriage feel like razor blades are jostling for position in your underwear. No really, it's a state of bliss!
The rest of it, is still very bloody messy. My brain looks like Swiss cheese (a zombie probably wouldn't even attack me). My motor skills are toddler-esque, my muscles don't work respond to commands, and sometimes I just randomly fall on my arse for the heck of it. It's taken days to write this, because my fingers have a problem with authority. The headaches, are pretty much constant, and can't be controlled without medication that makes you as dopey as a kitten rolling in a field of catnip. If you look closely at my blog, you'll see evidence of the times I've tried to write when on it. So mostly, I just put up with them. It's a decision I'd rather not have to make, neither option is a good one. If I can walk, I use a stick. If I can't, I use a wheelchair. It's a kind of 'Wheel of Misfortune'. What symptom will you spin up today?'. And, there is no proven treatment.
Hopefully, one day, people will take enough notice of the disease, that the people with money to burn, will research it thoroughly enough, so that we at least find a real treatment. Or, a cure. *sings hallelujah chorus*
Cause we don't have one. We're medical Guinea pigs. We are poked, prodded, and tested by doctors that are as clueless about the disease as the general public are. I don't blame them, they can't know everything about every disease, and when there's no awareness, we can't really expect much more. I am lucky enough that one of my doctors (a neurologist that realised, gee, that's actually not MS you have there) took the time to do some real behind the scenes research (a year of it!), or I'd still be in the dark about what's wrong with me. Probably going a little (or a lot) nuts!
So many aren't so lucky, and so many with rare diseases are dismissed out of hand, because they don't fit the medical mold. Many suffer needlessly for decades without a diagnoses. And when they get one, there's usually no proven treatment.
We are given drugs that may, or may not work, but fuck me, they have some wicked side effects that need to be endured to try to find that skerrik of relief; whether they are successful at quelling the symptoms, or not.
I have 6 different - ologists. 6 specialists, and I swear they communicate in smoke signals from building to building, so much information is lost between them. But, again, it's not completely their fault; our community isn't set up for people that have no proven treatment for their illness. We just get pushed from specialist to specialist, looking for the best way to mask the symptoms. (I have heard there are Behcet's centres in other countries! I hope they are serving you well!)
And this, is why Rare Disease Day exists. Because only around 400-ish of the 7000-ish (yeah 7000!) rare diseases that exist, have PROVEN TREATMENTS (are you feeling me yet?) . That is not enough. It's just not good enough. And it's because, the 95% of the people that tuned out at the start of this post, tuned out… If nobody listens, nobody is listening. Hello! *waves* We Are Here! If the general public doesn't care, neither do the people who can get this shit done. Why would they, if it's low priority to the general populace. I wouldn't mind a cricket stadium full of people wearing Behcet's blue, but it's not a reality that will ever come to pass.
We don't really want your sympathy; we don't need inspo-porn, we don't need clickbait AMENS! Although your empathy is very much appreciated, what we really need is your help to spread knowledge, and awareness. A rare disease, does not suddenly make us want to lead unproductive lives, or be cut off from experiences that are taken for granted by others. Or be given quack suggestions on cures (A Quinoa and China seed diet ain't going to cure encephalitis.. Sorry!). But that's exactly what happens to a good proportion of us, because the real awareness just isn't there.
What we need real, medically proven, empirically tested treatments. We want to contribute our worth, our talents, and our dreams to society. We can't do that lying in bed with Sphincter Dysfunction (Woot Poot!) and a head full of inflamed brain tissue (a lot of this blog is actually written/spoken in that condition. It probably shows! Ha!)
Listen. Please. We Are Here. Help us get the word out that we aren't going to lie down, and suffer. We are warriors, and a lot of us are going to cark it of old age before we see anything done to help our fellow sisters and brothers in arms. What we can do, hopefully, is help the next generation of Behcet's warriors, and other rare disease superheroes, not have to fight so bloody hard through the jungle of medical misfortune. If we stand together, we can be noticed. By you, by the world, and by those that will be our ultimate saviors: doctors, nurses, researchers, clinicians, hospitals.
Here are some links. Please click on them, read something about it, become informed. Not just about my disease, but rare diseases in general. Donate something if you're feeling extra generous, but the real key is knowledge. Do it, or I'll haunt you when I die of meningoencephalitis (or being hit by a bus, whichever comes first). And I will be a roaring bitch of a poltergeist, trust me! Hope you weren't sentimentally attached to Granny's vase, cause it's probably going to hit a wall when you least expect it…
I jest a lot. I try to be as light-hearted about this as possible. But, In all honesty, no jesting, THANK YOU for reading. I'm pretty sure not many got this far, so you have no idea how appreciative I am of your time.
I thank you, the Behcet's community thanks you, and all of those with rare diseases, thanks you! You rock!
I'd kiss you, but I get tongue cramps (true, it's a really disconcerting feeling too.. ).