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 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.

Categories
Romance

Re-read A Lot Like Adios

Read A Lot Like Adiós (Primas of Power, #2)

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

Still great on second read! She did an excellent job highlighting their emotions throughout, and how it changed their perspective. I related to their difficulties with their attitudes about work.

The action is maybe a little light, but the character arc and relationship work was so well done I didn’t mind that they didn’t actually do a whole lot. The sex scenes do heavy lifting on relationship building and characterization, are important to the story. The condom buying scene is hilariously cringe.

Appreciate that they are a non-traditional couple in that they don’t want kids, and don’t actually want to get married, but still find a way to be together that works for them.

Also that cover art 😍

Categories
Fantasy Romance

Read Wicked Beauty

Read Wicked Beauty (Dark Olympus, #3)

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and Patroclus that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?

Of the three books in this series, this plays the loosest with the source material overall, but then clings a little too close in other spots. Some things seemed to be included just to show that it was referencing the Iliad (Ajax), but would have been more powerful if those roles had been expanded (Hector).

The romance in this was a bit messy, starting with an established partnership in an open relationship and adding a third person, with some hurt feelings and bad behavior on the way. For the romance, I would have appreciated one more chapter at the end — it would have been good to hear from Patroclus again, and I never felt like Achilles and Patroclus resolved their mutual secret “you’re going to get tired of me and leave me” issues.

This set up some big pieces for the overall story of the city, but left too much unresolved IMO. There’s a big question about one of the plot pieces that we’re I guess just supposed to accept will be explained in the next book.

Using a golden apple on the cover when Atalanta is in the book but not the love interest is a weird choice for a series devoted to retelling myths, where readers may be familiar with the story of Atalanta’s footrace.

Categories
Fantasy Romance

Re-read Electric Idol

Read Electric Idol (Dark Olympus, #2)

He was the most beautiful man alive. And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death. *A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche…

Was in the mood for a Psyche and Eros story so I revisited this one, which is ~mobster marries the socialite / influencer he’s supposed to kill.

Interesting to read this again while I’ve been reading Lore Olympus online to see how they portray the same characters.

I’m still iffy on the “hero” who is a hitman that kills innocent people because his mother dislikes them — which is compared as being maybe nicer than destroying their reputation or getting them exiled? 🤔 I get it, he’s been emotionally manipulated and controlled since childhood and is basically totally traumatized and disassociative… but he still murdered people so he wouldn’t suffer emotional punishment from his mother? I think this is over the line on a redeemable hero, whereas the hero in Alyssa Cole’s A Hope Divided has been forced to torture people for the war effort and basically escapes it by repeatedly being taken as a POW. They’re both self-loathing but one makes an effort to stop whereas in this book he realizes what he’s become and kinda goes well guess I’m trash 🤷‍♀️

Categories
Fantasy

Read Iron Widow

Read Iron Widow

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

This main character was intense and unpredictable, which made for exciting reading. Didn’t bother me that it was YA, though that did mean there “had” to be a love triangle… which she subverted beautifully. Cliffhanger ending. Will be interested to see where this goes in the next couple books (I assume it’ll be a trilogy).

Beautiful cover 😍

Categories
Comics Fantasy

Read Shadow Life

Read Shadow Life

When Kumiko’s well-meaning adult daughters place her in an assisted living home, the seventy-six-year-old widow gives it a try, but it’s not where she wants to be. She goes on the lam and finds a cozy bachelor apartment, keeping the location secret even while communicating online with her eldest daughter. Kumiko revels in the small, daily pleasures: decorating as she pleases, eating what she wants, and swimming in the community pool. But something has followed her from her former residence—Death’s shadow.

Kumiko’s sweet life is shattered when Death’s shadow swoops in to collect her. With her quick mind and sense of humor, Kumiko, with the help of friends new and old, is prepared for the fight of her life. But how long can an old woman thwart fate?

Not totally what I expected, especially the ending was a surprise.

Shadow Life works as a title on multiple levels — both Death’s Shadow, but also that at the beginning she’s withdrawn from all her friends and family and is living a shadow of her life, and succeeds in her quest when she rebuilds her connections.

Interesting presentation of an old woman as the heroine. She keeps pissing her pants accidentally ☹ She deals with her physical limitations throughout, but refuses to let her intellect be constrained by them, asserting her independence and self-determination.

Her children are obnoxious and controlling, and the way they’re drawn makes them look like they’re about 20, when they’ve got to be in their thirties at least given she’s supposed to be in her late seventies.

Categories
Romance

Re-read Fast Connection

Read Fast Connection (Cyberlove, #2)

After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic ‘Nicky’ Costigan–the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.

This one was kind of intense. There was a confrontation with the ‘bad guy’ at the end that had a sour note and felt a little cruel.

Note: There was a hullabaloo about co-author Santino Hassell four years ago, in which it’s suspected the community was misled into crowdfunding medical support when they were not actually having medical issues, and potentially were actually a team of writers pretending to be another person, and then had poor behavior during the process of revelation and were dropped by their publisher. I already owned this book but still feel a little weird re-reading it.