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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

Stroke of Midnight (One Night in South Beach)
Andie J. Christopher
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

Pretty Mess Mini Review

Pretty Mess - Erika Jayne

I'm a huge RHOBH fan and LOVE Erika Girardi, so I knew I'd love this book. Erika narrates the audiobook and that made it extra special. She's utterly herself, open and unapologetic. The book gets into her childhood, love life, family, and career. It was funny and inspiring. She got back into music and dancing at age 36 and feels like her career hit its stride in her mid-40s. :) The last few chapters were about the Housewives and her stint on Dancing With The Stars. It covered plenty for a first book. If she puts out another, I'll be sure to read it too. A perfect listen for the dark timeline we're living in right now. 

Dirty Sexy Scot Mini Review

Dirty Sexy Scot - Melissa Blue

The Sherlock/Watson cosplay meet cute hooked me. I really liked Mia and Caid as a couple. They had a slow burn, as if they were circling each other until the very end. I think Melissa is a great writer and I enjoy how she does so many subtle things in her stories. There were plenty of fandom jokes, as well as ways two lonely, scared people were in each other's lives, but not quite. So, so good. Plenty of sexual tension too. Great story. 

Tales of the Djinn: Sultan's Choice Mini Review

Tales of the Djinn: Sultan's Choice - Emma Holly

This novella is the fifth story in the Tales of the Djinn series. It features Iksander, and his return to the Glorious City, along with his companions Connor and Georgie. There isn't a lot of conflict, but there's a lot of heat. It's a sweet, sexy menage with touches of resistance romance too. ;) Enjoy!

SPOILER ALERT!

The Dark Calling Review Ramble

The Dark Calling - Kresley Cole

I'd really been looking forward to the next book in the Arcana Chronicles series and this one just didn't work that well for me. Usually I do a series reread leading up to a new release and didn't this time. Maybe I was behind on a bunch of details? I don't know. TDC just didn't grab me like the last books had. The ending also makes me cranky. Harrumph. 

 

***My review is spoilery and full of rambles. I'm in a weird place after reading this book.***

 

Arcana Rising (book #5) ended with Evie living with Arik and pregnant with his child. :( But we also got confirmation that Jack survived. (Yay!! Happiest of dances!) TDC begins with Evie being suspicious of everyone, especially Paul, the jack of all trades handy-medic-cook who's Arik's assistant. And then no one believes Evie's version of events. She wonders if it's her pregnancy hormones. Ugh. It's kind of an odd start. I appreciated that the villain used gaslighting to torture Evie. It feels timely and is super evil. I also appreciated that Evie was not thrilled to have an unplanned pregnancy during an apocalypse. Kind of a low bar, but pregnancy in romance is so often treated as a fix-all, and in this story it is not. 

 

Evie has a huge falling out with Arik, gets kicked out of the fortress, and teams up with Joules and Kentarch (who shows up with a sweet truck). Paul, our new villain, has tapped into Arik's long-standing distrust of Evie and he (Arik) now hates her and wants to kill her. This set up a huge conflict in the Evie and Arik branch of the love triangle. I get it, but it felt like a retread for them. Also, Arik's actions were super shitty. I know he wasn't in control of himself, but he was awful to her for weeks. Maybe I'm not appreciating how he was controlled by Paul. Just, lines were crossed that couldn't be uncrossed. We've also seen other characters resist mind control, especially for the sake of someone they love. It was meaningful to me that Arik couldn't. He needed another character to get out of it. 

 

In order to contact Circe, who is too far under a frozen moat to talk to, Evie & co venture out to find a big enough body of water for Circe to communicate with Evie. Evie believes that Circe knows how to stop Paul. 

 

Finally, in this book, Evie travels east to the Outer Banks. Along the way, the Arcana run into Jack. I have been DYING for their reunion. It was okay. Maybe the way they find him felt mundane? Argh. Jack is Jack tho: hard to kill, cunning, and gone for Evie. :)

 

Evie felt passive through a lot of this story. She's sidelined by both men in her life at different points and it's frustrating. She's a badass, and she finally uses her skills, and by the end of the book seems to understand how to access them, which is nice. It's odd that so many Arcana are scared of her when they first meet her, but Arik and Jack want to lock her up in a secure location. It's strange that the two people who love her the most don't believe she can take care of herself. (She just did that in the last book!)

 

Okay, so Evie & Co plus Jack reach the shore, LOTS of adventure ensues and Evie hits a turning point in her powers. This was excellent. Also, Evie and Jack reconcile and I loved that. Jack just rolls with her pregnancy because of course he does. Again, another low bar, but it really showed how Jack is focused on the now. He loves Evie. If she has a kid, he'll love Evie's kid unconditionally. Heroic behavior from my fav Cajun. 

 

Arik shows up in spectacular fashion and then there's a lot of emphasis on the love triangle. If you want to read about a heroine who truly loves two people and they accept that about her, here you go. (No, not in a polyamory way.) This was well done. All three of them talk about it with each other in depth. Six books in, I want Evie to pick one--PICK JACK, EVIE!--and be done with it. 

 

They return to the fortress and strategize how to kill Paul without Arik succumbing to his control over him again. I loved how this played out. Evie shows what she can do and freaks everyone out. *shrug* I didn't like how, because she's pregnant with Arik's baby, Jack decides to leave and Evie's reaction is to let him. So frustrating. 

 

Highs: I think my favorite part of this book is the main villain. Paul was scary and twisty and difficult to vanquish. There were other villains who were wonderfully creepy too. I also love Evie and Circe's friendship.  

 

Lows: Richter didn't do anything for me in this book. He comes across as a meathead, so not particularly scary. At times, Jack felt a bit muted. He's not really jealous or possessive, which is good, but he doesn't fight for a future with Evie. I get it that he wants her to be in a safe place, but ugh. Apocalyptic love is rough. Love triangles are aggravating when I'm used to (and prefer) an HEA with one couple. 

 

I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I'll do a reread so I'm ready. I know what I'm hoping for, but maybe I need to prepare myself for a different outcome. Bah. 

 

 

Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole 99 cents!

Reblogged from Cat's Books: Romance :
Be Not Afraid - Alyssa Cole

Elijah Sutton is no fool, despite his love of a country that enslaves people like him. When he's offered land, livestock, and—most importantly—his freedom if he fights in his Patriot owner's stead, Elijah believes he'll soon have everything he ever wanted...and then he meets Kate.

The Crown has promised freedom to slaves who escape their Patriot masters and join the British side, and Kate intends to take them up on it. She's eager to leave America—and the painful memories it holds for her—far behind...and then she meets Elijah.

Their attraction is undeniable, but their goals couldn’t be further apart. When Elijah is captured by the British while helping Kate, they're thrown into close proximity and forced to choose between their hopes for the future and their hearts.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve Mini Review

Once Upon a Christmas Eve: A Maiden Lane Novella (Kindle Single) - Elizabeth Hoyt

Just what I needed. Short, sweet, hot, and funny. Adam was an enjoyable rake: charming and kind to his grandmere. Sarah was a relatable heroine. They made a great couple. 

Once Upon a Maiden Lane Mini Review

Once Upon a Maiden Lane - Elizabeth Hoyt

Perfect novella at the perfect time. I adore this series and when I saw that this novella came out, I snatched it up. Sweet, romantic, sexy, and a few twists thrown in. Loved Mary and Henry as a couple. Bonus for small glimpses of other Maiden Lane characters from the series. 

Mini-Review: Tales of the Djinn: The City of Endless Night

Tales of the Djinn: The City of Endless Night (Volume 4) - Emma Holly

The City of Endless Night is the fourth book in Emma Holly's Tales of the Djinn paranormal romance series. It was great: sexy, fun, interesting world-building, with more of a slow-burn for the romance between Georgie, Connor, and Iksander. Georgie and Connor became a couple in the last book, with Iksander longing for (lusting for?) Georgie from afar. I thought the development of their relationship from a couple to a throuple worked well. 

 

It took unexpected turns, which I enjoyed. There were also a few nods to current politics: notably, comments on fake news and crowd size, among others. These were subtle, but each time I saw one I cheered. 

 

I adore Emma Holly. Reading her stories, even new ones, are total comfort-reading. While this book has a complete story, I think it would be most enjoyable if read at least after book three. Looking forward to the next one in the series. :)

Beyond Heaving Bosoms Mini-Review/reaction

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels - Candy Tan, Sarah Wendell

I'd been wanting to read BHB for a long time now as I'm a fan of the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website and especially the podcast (SPTB). It absolutely met my expectations: snarky observations, hilarious critique, and a deep love for the romance genre. It was so funny. I'm working on ways to add "humperate" to my vocabulary.

 

The book feels like an in-depth conversation with a good friend who loves romance. It's honest, at times painfully so, especially when discussing the problematic history of the genre. I loved the discussion of old school covers--that even the weather was tempestuous.

 

Highly Recommend.

The Duchess Deal Mini Review

The Duchess Deal - Tessa Dare

Absolutely loved this book. Funny, smart, plucky heroine meets a grumpy, scarred duke who needs an heir. Beauty and the Beast retelling during the Regency era. There are even moments that connect to current politics with a "Nevertheless, she persisted" line--that totally works. Loved it and it was exactly what I needed after being between too many books for too long.

What to read next?

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?

Wicked Abyss Mini Review

Wicked Abyss - Kresley Cole

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.

SPOILER ALERT!

Going Nowhere Fast Mini Review

Going Nowhere Fast - Kati Wilde

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.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Darling Beast Mini Review

Darling Beast - Elizabeth Hoyt

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.

Duke of Midnight Mini Review

Duke of Midnight - Elizabeth Hoyt, Elizabeth Hoyt

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.

 

 

Wicked Intentions Mini Review

Wicked Intentions - Elizabeth Hoyt

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.