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Linz

Linz Loves Romance

I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.

Currently reading

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)
Lisa Cron
Your A Game: winning promo for genre fiction
Damon Suede, Heidi Cullinan
SPOILER ALERT!

Never Better Mini Review

Never Better: A Dark Obsession Novel - Charlotte Stein

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.

The Spire Mini-Review

The Spire (The Walsh Series) (Volume 6) - Kate Canterbary

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. :)

Hardcore Mini-Review

Hardcore (Filth Book 3) - Dakota Gray

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.

:)
Reblogged from Books, hockey, and a bucketful of snark:

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.

 

Prime Minister Mini-Review

Prime Minister (Frisky Beavers) (Volume 1) - Ainsley Booth, Sadie Haller

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.

Scandalous Desires Mini-Review

Scandalous Desires - Elizabeth Hoyt

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. :)

 

 

Reading as a Coping Skill

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 Mini-Review

Ravishing the Heiress - Sherry Thomas

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 Mini-Review

Perv (Filth Book 1) - Dakota Gray

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.

The Sell: Mini-Review

The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone - Fredrik Eklund, Barbara  Corcoran, Bruce   Littlefield

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.

Arcana Rising Mini-Review

Arcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles Book 5) - Kresley Cole

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 Mini-Review

Right Through Me (The Obsidian Files Book 1) - Shannon McKenna

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 Mini-Review

Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles) (Volume 4) - Kresley Cole

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!!

 

 

I hope I fixed it this time

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.

 

I apologize.

 

*finally gets the book I've been meaning to read for months.

 

 

Dark Mafia Prince Mini-Review

Dark Mafia Prince: A (Dangerous Royals) - Annika Martin

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.

Booklikes has been sold?

Reblogged from Familiar Diversions:

In case you aren't following the Bug Reports discussion, YouKneeK and I have come across some details that may indicate that Booklikes was sold.

 

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.