Categories
Romance Science Fiction

Read Dark Ambitions

Read Dark Ambitions (Class 5 #4.5)

It’s been months since Rose McKenzie was taken far from…

A light little adventure, short and simple. It involves a cute orphaned alien sugar glider who gets some plot action. This is mostly focused on Rose, but also shows some development from Sazo.

I read this after the series epilogue but it comes before it, oops!

Categories
Romance Science Fiction

Read Dark Class + Bonus Epilogue

Read Dark Class (Class 5, #5)

Waking up alone . . . Ellie Masters comes out of a coma to find herself the only inhabitant of an eerily empty moon station. She’s not on Earth any more, she’s not even in the right solar system. So when someone reaches out to her, tells her he’s her friend, she’s happy to believe it. The alternative is to be stuck alone with an enemy.

The hunt of his career . . . Grih Battle Center captain, Renn Sorvihn, has been chasing a rogue Tecran ship for over a month, convinced its captain is simply trying to delay his inevitable surrender and punishment. But when Renn follows the Tecran ship into an unchartered sector, and realises the Tecran have been working their way to a secret moon base for weeks, he suddenly understands things are most definitely not as they seem.

Caught in the crossfire . . . When the Tecran arrive, with the Grih hot on their heels, Ellie finds herself the catalyst for heightened danger to everyone. The Tecran see her as evidence of their military’s crimes, the Grih see her as a massive diplomatic complication, and her presence brings the whole confrontation up several thousand notches.

But Ellie isn’t alone, and her new friend has ways to help her. Time to outclass them all . . .

This was fun and fast-paced, and just what I was hoping for after a streak of bad reading picks. I also liked this better than book 4.

I loved Ellie and the little droids. I thought Diener did a good job conveying all the AIs as somewhat childlike but also capable, so their participation in the action didn’t feel inappropriate.

The romance was light in this one, more of a building attraction that they commit to following through on.

I really liked Ellie’s handling of the ending.

The bonus epilogue was a neat little addition, which I appreciated was from Ellie’s POV, but also thought was wise not to include in the main book. It was meatier than I expected, and gave a nice round-off to the series, tying up political loose ends, bringing all the couples together, and setting up the future for them.

Categories
Romance Science Fiction

Read Her Warrior from the Stars

Read Fated Mates of the Atari by AG WildeAG Wilde

When I get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go on a luxury space cruise, I jump at it.
This cruise is the beginning of something amazing, and nothing is going to stop me from going.
But when things go wrong shortly after departure, it’s clear I have made a mistake.
Suddenly thrown into a world where I have no way of defending myself, the last thing I expect is an Atari warrior coming to my rescue.
This cruise has been full of surprises…but the Atari is the biggest one of all.
A version of this story was previously published in the Claimed Among the Stars Anthology. This extended version includes 30K words more of story and fun.

I read the short version of the story in Claimed Among the Stars.

There was a substantial amount of gore in this. I was not necessarily expecting descriptions of blood splashing on her face in my romance 😬

This story has a twist in that all the women in it were physically disabled. There’s some horrifying commentary on ableism that Earth is given an opportunity to offload some of its most burdensome and it’s all disabled women 🤦‍♀️

What I find confusing in this story and many like it is that the worldbuilding is pretty progressive (there’s also health care commentary), but the relationship is mega heteronormative — the hero coming to rescue fair maiden who he’s never met from a horrible life as an alien sex slave 🙄

It irritates me that the women are always sold into sex slavery. Yes, ok, that’s the worst thing that could happen to you (though this story tried to one-up it 👀), but it’s tropey and gross.

I imagine expanding this story (as the author has done) would give more opportunity for the heroine to befriend the other women she meets. Unfortunately it sounds like the revision altered the romantic relationship to a fated mates sitch, which I frankly had appreciated that the relationship was *not* in the version I read. I wonder if she thought she could get away without it in an anthology, but caved to market demand for the full length book she’s selling on its own?

Categories
Romance Science Fiction

Read 2 Claimed Among the Stars novellas

Read Claimed Among the Stars

Hearts in zero gravity are free to fall, and destiny awaits unsuspecting heroines far across the galaxy. Whether you love a trip that’s nice and easy or dark and intense, this collaboration of more than fifty bestselling authors is guaranteed to please.

Scarlett and the Alien Savage by Liz Paffle 
Tarzan in space. Heroine somehow dense as a brick. Mystical “important” artifacts didn’t really pay off. Very abrupt ending that I didn’t think worked.

Reaver’s Kiss by Elin Wyn 
Liked this well enough though it ended suddenly. I was surprised that no one in his community came to look for him, and they took months (I assume since she learned his language and they tanned leather to make clothes) to figure out a way off the “island.” Their encounter with alien tech didn’t turn into anything.

Categories
Fantasy Romance

Read For the Throne

Read For the Throne by Hannah Whitten

Red and the Wolf have finally contained the threat of the Old Kings but at a steep cost. Red’s beloved sister Neve, the First Daughter is lost in the Shadowlands, an inverted kingdom where the vicious gods of legend have been trapped for centuries and the Old Kings have slowly been gaining control. But Neve has an ally–though it’s one she’d rather never have to speak to again–the rogue king Solmir.

Solmir wants to bring an end to the Shadowlands and he believes helping Neve may be the key to its destruction. But to do that, they will both have to journey across a dangerous landscape in order to find a mysterious Heart Tree, and finally to claim the gods’ dark, twisted powers for themselves.

This was a very frustrating read, and I don’t think it stuck the landing. The solution didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I didn’t believe the heroine would choose what she did. The resolution between her and the antihero was weak.

There was no need for this to be 500 pages. There were seriously like five dream sequences. At least one other POV could have been cut. I would frankly have cut all the other viewpoints besides Neve. I thought it very odd to have one chapter each from the sisters’ love interests.

Honestly the story just didn’t quite work. It wanted to be the story of two sisters, and it wanted to be a romance, and it wanted to be epic fantasy. Unfortunately, by not choosing one it did all three poorly. It probably should have focused on the sisters instead of the romance, based on the ending.

At the halfway point, I started skipping all the other viewpoint scenes until the climax. They telegraphed too much, without adding value. Knowing the end, I don’t think they paid off. The author used them to create tension by keeping you away from getting resolution from the main storyline, which I feel is a bad sign when the tension isn’t enough on its own and you have to stall.

Categories
Romance

Read Convergence

Read Convergence (Intersolar Union #1)

Olivia Loxley was a behaviorist with the Los Angeles Police Department. Until her specialty in profiling the human mind becomes of unique interest to Commander Atarian, that is.

When she wakes up in a cell on an alien spacecraft, she gathers her strength for a confrontation that never materializes. Instead, the man asks for her help in the largest raid he’s ever overseen: a pleasure cruiser christened the Paramour, which has been siphoning humans into galactic sex trafficking for months. But in order for his mission to go off without a hitch, he needs to impersonate a connoisseur of human flesh.

The real question is, will either of them be able to keep up professional boundaries? Or will they bow to their primal instincts?

Enjoyed this, will read the next book. The author did a great job with *alien* alien species, and deftly showed how the heroine adapted to being around aliens and thinking of them as people. The side characters are fun and have distinct personalities. I liked how they all immediately recognized her intelligence and skill and happily accepted her help, although they coulda helped her out with a little more info sometimes.

The opening setup was tough, I didn’t love that he abducted her even with noble intent, especially knowing that she wouldn’t be able to return. He did come to regret it and apologize, and she came to grips with it in a way that fit. It seems like he probably should have gotten in more trouble? (Ah, I see that the followup novella addresses this.)

The author really draws out the sexual tension. I understood why he didn’t just talk to her, but also, just talk to her dude.

Minor quibble that the ending drama wasn’t explained well / kinda came out of nowhere, but I presume it will be addressed as the books proceed.

Categories
Romance

Read The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

Read The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes (London Highwaymen #…

Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, just shot her husband. Of course, the evil, murderous man deserved what was coming to him, but now she must flee to the countryside. Unfortunately, the only person she can ask for help is the charismatic criminal who is blackmailing her–and who she may have left tied up a few hours before…

A highwayman, con artist, and all-around cheerful villain, Rob Brooks is no stranger to the wrong side of the law or the right side of anybody’s bed. He never meant to fall for the woman whose secrets he promised to keep for the low price of five hundred pounds, but how could he resist someone who led him on a merry chase all over London, left him tied up in a seedy inn, and then arrived covered in her husband’s blood and in desperate need of his help?

As they flee across the country–stopping to pick pockets, drink to excess, and rescue invalid cats–they discover more true joy and peace than either has felt in ages. But when the truth of Rob’s past catches up to him, they must decide if they are willing to reshape their lives in order to forge a future together.

Liked this better than the first book. The epistolary opening is a total delight. Rob is great. I quite enjoyed it but found it a bit of a slower read usual for a romance — and I stalled out at 70% for a few days — I think because much of the plot is actually pretty incidental to the relationship.

I appreciated the way revelations were handled. I wasn’t sure exactly how the ending would turn out but it felt like a good landing. The drama at the climax I think needed to be explained better earlier on since it seems emotionally important.

A lot of bi representation seems like lip service but these two felt queer and the way they approached sex was non-traditional compared to a typical m/f romance.

Categories
Romance

Read Sailor’s Delight

Read Sailor’s Delight

Self-effacing, overworked bookkeeper Elie Benezet doesn’t have time to be in love. Too bad he already is—with his favorite client, Augustus Brine. The Royal Navy sailing master is kind, handsome, and breathtakingly competent. He’s also engaged to his childhood sweetheart. And now that his prize money is coming in after years of delay, he can afford to marry her…once Elie submits the final prize paperwork.

When Augustus comes home, determined to marry by the end of his brief leave, Elie does his best to set his broken heart aside and make it happen. But he’s interrupted by one thing after another: other clients, the high holidays, his family’s relentless efforts to marry him off. Augustus isn’t helping by renting a room down the hall, shaving shirtless with his door open, and inviting Elie to the public baths. If Elie didn’t know better, he’d think Augustus didn’t want to get married.

To cap it all off, Augustus’s fiancée arrives in town, senses that Elie has a secret, and promptly accuses him of embezzling. Has Elie’s doom been sealed…or is there still time to change his fate?

A quiet but deeply emotional story — Rose Lerner always seems to be very good at writing emotional complexity. The narrator, Elie, struggles with his love for his client, wondering what the right thing to do is, and trying so hard to do right by everyone else that he forgets about himself. His family, his honor, his duty, his faith all matter deeply to him. I really liked the framing of Rosh Hashanah, the new year, for the story and his arc of change. This feels painstakingly researched, with so many historical details enriching the story. This romance is mostly yearning, with the barest glimpse through the closing door, so don’t go in expecting heat. I would have liked one more chapter at the end to give them some more time together after so long apart.

Categories
Fantasy Romance

Read The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy

Read The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?

Quite enjoyed this mashup of wild west meets ancient Greek / Norse / Egyptian mythology meets The Shop Around the Corner meets zombies. I liked that it was as much about the romance as it was friendship and family. I have minor quibbles with some aspects of the ending but it got to a good spot.

Categories
Romance

Read The Long Game

Read The Long Game (Game Changers, #6)

Ten years.

That’s how long Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have been seeing each other. How long they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret. From friends, from family…from the league. If Shane wants to stay at the top of his game, what he and Ilya share has to remain secret. He loves Ilya, but what if going public ruins everything?

Ilya is sick of secrets. Shane has gotten so good at hiding his feelings, sometimes Ilya questions if they even exist. The closeness, the intimacy, even the risk that would come with being open about their relationship…Ilya wants it all.

It’s time for them to decide what’s most important—hockey or love.

It’s time to make a call.

Oops, despite being the first sentence on the Goodreads page, I missed that this was a sequel 😂 That explains why some things I thought should have been scenes were not 😅

One little piece that I thought got dropped at the end, but otherwise satisfying.