Fantasy Romance

Read Havesskadi

Read Havesskadi

The red dragon is hunting her own. Up in the icy peaks of the northern mountains, Orsie Havesskadi spends his days hiding from her, but eventually he is found and his dragon magic stolen. Cursed to wander the lands as a mortal unless he recovers his magic before twenty-four rising crescents have passed, Orsie embarks on an arduous journey. Spurred by the whispers in his mind, his quest takes him to a castle hidden deep in a forest.

Arkeva Flitz, a skilled garrison archer, discovers an abandoned castle in the woods. Trapped there, he spends his days with his two companions, one cruel, the other soothing. One day, a young man arrives at his gates, and soon they are confined by heavy snowfalls and in danger from what slumbers in the shadows of the castle.

Sweet, slow burn ace dragon romance. Lots of yearning. Ending was less violent than I’d anticipated but I liked the more gentle approach.


Read Something Fabulous

Read Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up…romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be.

Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and…beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing.

This is a fun instalove romp with plenty of over the top action. The hero does screw up a lot, and doesn’t instantly fix all his problems – though I also think some of the ways he was treated were disproportionate and mean and intentionally misconstrue his actions, reading ill intent into everything he does when in general he is following social norms, doing what is expected and usual, and generally trying to find the best outcome for everyone – he just needs to listen to others’ needs more. But, they also need to listen to him.

It bothered me that he gets accused of assaulting someone when he accidentally hits them while escaping from being tied up by them – that’s an accident and was he just supposed to be fine with being tied up for no reason? Because lbh, he’s dragged into this “chase” by Bonny, yet he’s the one blamed for continuing even when Bonny insisted they go after his sister and bring her home.

Bonny is very entertaining, his sister is a drama queen nightmare though I’m sure was fun to write. I wish Bonny had called his sister out on her bullshit instead of blaming her overreactions all on Valentine.

I love the author’s note at the beginning that’s like, everyone’s queer get over it. The sex scenes were not appealing to me but everyone’s got their own taste 😉 I was frankly surprised at the last sex scene which felt like it came quickly and moved too fast after they agree to take things slowly because Valentine is demisexual. I also dislike when one person is sexually involved with someone else in the book, even if it’s before the characters admit they want each other.

Maybe a bit of a pacing issue with the plot climax happening a little early but the emotional resolution closing out the book in just what you know is coming, in a charming way.


Read The Love Hypothesis

Read The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Compelling but infuriating. The heroine’s horrific self-esteem problems, refusal to recognize reality, and habit of doing things that make her unhappy that she thinks will make others happy adds up to drawing idiotic conclusions, not listening to her friends, and general obnoxious self-sabotaging and unwarranted self-sacrificing. She’s stated to be 26 but I think she reads younger.

I get very frustrated when the story problems are rooted in miscommunication. The hero was so cautious and indulgent with her, but if he had been willing to push back on her proclamations at all they might have avoided so much misunderstanding and suffering.

It might have been tempered if we’d also read his viewpoint? Though I don’t think it would have worked for the story as is to give him a POV.

I didn’t like the setup of grabbing a stranger and kissing them – er, sexual assault much? – but it did make for an entertaining pile-up of events after the hero goes along with her cuckoo banana plan. I liked their growing affection and there were some very cute and funny bits. But really hated the lie the heroine told midway through the book.

I thought the ending was only going to involve one of the two bad things it did.

I liked the secondary romance and would have liked it to be a bigger part of the book to add some levity to the angst of the second half.

Also the sex scene was uncomfortable and bad. She’s made out to be demi-sexual, but acts like that is a bad thing and she owes the male character whatever sexual acts he desires, and that if she withholds whatever he desires he will no longer like her. This is bad ace representation.

Comics Memoir

Read Gender Queer

Read Gender Queer

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity–what it means and how to think about it–for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Really enjoyed this memoir. The simple art worked well for the story, which focuses on the author’s journey through eir gender identity and sexuality. Nice color work by eir sister.

It’s surprising that e was so resistant to writing autobiographically because this book was very open about super personal subjects, especially eir sexuality and turn-ons. (There are a few uncomfortable admissions that might have been better left out.)

I identify as cis and straight, but definitely have feelings about gender that overlap with eirs. I consider myself more of a tomboy, and reject a lot of what I consider toxic trappings of traditional Western gender as part of my version of feminism. It took me a long time to feel comfortable first getting married, and then saying that I was married. I didn’t change my last name, and don’t wear a wedding ring most of the time (it’s pretty so sometimes I do but I’m squiffy on the symbolism). I stopped shaving. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a woman when I don’t want children. I have “mothering” and caregiving “instincts” (learned or genetic?) that I struggle with to find the balance between doing what I wish and following our culture’s expectation that women subsume themselves to the care of others.

How e responds to “but you’d make such a good mom!”

There’s a conversation with eir lesbian aunt where the aunt accuses em of misogyny for not identifying as a woman, which reminded me of another claim I once saw that women only enjoy m/m stories because they are too invested in masculine pleasure and can’t imagine women feeling sexual pleasure. I just don’t think women subconsciously hate themselves that much. I’ve always been attracted to dudes, and reading about two dudes is double the dude. Not identifying with the cultural trappings of femininity and what the female gender means in society seems totally legit, and choosing to use different pronouns is one way of resetting others’ cultural expectations for you.