Categories
Fantasy Romance

Read Warmth of His Light

Read Warmth of His Light (Blanchard Coven #1)

When Eos Hawthorne went to meet a friend one evening, he never expected his entire life to change. As if stumbling across a group of men fighting in an abandoned lot by his home wasn’t shocking enough—one of those men suddenly attacks him…with fangs and claws.

Vampire coven leader Julien Blanchard is having a bad day. After failing to apprehend a murderer and traitor to his coven, the absolute last thing he needed was a hapless human stumbling into the picture— especially an intriguing young man who, as it turns out, happens to be his mate.

Eos doesn’t know if he believes in mating, and knows nothing about the supernatural world he is suddenly thrust into. Julien is a vampire who has always put his coven and his duty first.

This was a little goofy, but I was in the mood for light fluff. The setup is very contrived. Thought about bailing at 75% but finished. Probably wouldn’t read another in this series.

The two love interests were a little flat, the human’s main interest was watching reality TV. I know that’s super normal but it’s kinda boring to read about. The building is described as cold and sterile and perfect, but later the human decides it reflects the vampire’s personality because it has thoughtful touches like a bowl of fruit and a historic photo of the building 🤔

I thought it was funny the vampire was like “oh my long long life” and it’s later mentioned he’s 75. The bad guy needed more motivation. I wanted to know more about the Witch Mother (?).

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
Science Fiction

Read Ocean’s Echo

Read Ocean’s Echo

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.

Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.

Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.

Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space—to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit’s traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.

Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they’ve been faking.

Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?

Very different from Winter’s Orbit but liked it just as well. Kept me on my toes — I was never sure what would happen next, even if I could anticipate a few key moments that would happen *sometime* — which fits quite nicely with the main character as an agent of chaos. High tension, I didn’t want to put it down though it was too long to read at once 😂

Although their relationship was integral to the story, I would categorize this as sci-fi with a strong romantic element rather than sci-fi romance.

One quibble is I don’t believe the direction of the public’s hatred and fear makes sense: isn’t it worse that someone can make you act against your will than that they can read your mind? That order — readers are scarier than writers — is foundational to the story, so I wish there had been a stronger explanation.

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

Read Bet on Love

Read Bet on Love (Good Bad Idea, #1)

After Rhys wakes up married to his best man, he never e…

Cute, I’d check out the next book. Light fluff that was just right for a day with a headache where I didn’t want to think too hard.

Their realization of their suppressed feelings for each other over the course of the day is done well. The two leads don’t have a ton of character between them, or much of a shared history that we see on page, though we’re told they can’t live without the other. The fiancee is a nightmare. The miscommunication at the end was poorly done and out of character, and left the book on a bad note. There was also a weirdly (consensually) aggro sex scene that seemed a bit much without prior communication, plus choking squicks me out.

Got for free through a stuff your kindle giveaway.

Categories
Fantasy Romance

Read Origin

Read Origin (Scales ‘N’ Spells, #1)

Cameron wants to make it clear that he did not go into the festival to find a dragon mate. Germany is supposed to be an escape. With a n…

As the first book in a series, this had a lot of work to do, and I think they weighed too strongly on the worldbuilding and setup. It was a slow 400 pages, with a limited action plot, a lot of training montage, and a heavy angst plotline. The king’s self-loathing and guilt are A Lot. There were weird specifics on how gay couples could have kids with magic. I’d be willing to try one more in the series and see if it picks up the pace.

Cool cover. Maybe feels a little paranormal?

Got for free through a Kindle promotion.

Categories
Romance

Read The Arrangement

Read The Arrangement

Carter Haywood lives for the weekends—specifically the one weekend every month when he escapes real life, with all the pressures of work and caring for his special needs brother, to do whatever he wants, with whomever he wants. Sex is only a release; he’s not looking for love, a relationship or even a second night with the same man, until he walks into a bar and finds someone who makes leaving it all behind impossible. After one incredibly passionate encounter, he breaks his rule and goes back. He needs to see this man again. And again.

Damaged goods. That’s all Reed Kincaide sees and hears when he looks in the mirror. Anxiety and ADHD define his life and he’s learned to keep people at a distance, never letting them get close enough to know who he really is. When Carter proposes a monthly weekend of sex without strings, it’s the ideal arrangement for him. Or so he thinks. Every month, leaving Carter proves to be more and more difficult. It’s not only the intensely hot sex they have in their hotel suite; Reed wonders about the secret life Carter refuses to share.

As months pass and they grow closer Reed finds himself falling for Carter, but he needs more than hurried hugs and farewell kisses. He wants it all. Letting Reed into his carefully constructed family life could upset Carter’s whole world, but it might be the risk he’s finally willing to take, if it means keeping Reed. Once bodies are engaged, the heart is sure to follow, and Carter and Reed discover that holding on to each other is the first step in letting go of the past.

Liked this although I wasn’t sold on the main character Carter — he had a lot of bad behavior to make up for. It was great to see Reed come into his own, to stand up for himself and what he wanted.

Categories
Fantasy Romance

Read Steal the Wind

Read Steal the Wind

Everything Caelan knows about his world is a lie.

A war is brewing. As the crown prince of Erya, it’s only natural that Caelan is sent on a secret diplomatic mission to support one of the kingdom’s allies. With his advisor, his bodyguard, and his best friend as traveling companions, what could go wrong?

Everything.

Everything goes wrong.

Now they are on the run, dodging assassins, setting secret meetings, and even making deals with a sleeping god.

So, this is probably a really bad time to cave to feelings he’s been fighting for his best friend. But Drayce has owned his heart for more years than he can count and if he’s going to die, shouldn’t he have just one kiss?

More fantasy than romance, but probably more romance than many fantasy readers want, like T. Kingfisher’s White Rat universe books. Thank goodness for self-pub bringing us books that don’t neatly fit one category! And it seems there are enough fantasy romance readers to warrant writing.

Two pairings are set up, with one drawing the focus. Appropriately for my Pride Month reading, seems like most of the main characters in the book are gay.

Very odd world building in which there are baseball hats and guns, but it’s also a legitimate choice to use a sword or spear? 🤔 Whatever, I don’t care that it doesn’t make sense since it’s for fun. Although I personally find it unsettling to have a modernish setting with a monarchy – even though that does still exist in many countries. (Is my aversion to royalty the American in me? Or just the progressive? 🤷‍♀️) So it’s not sure if it wants to be urban fantasy or high fantasy.

I’ll check out the second book. Ended on a bit of a cliffhanger which is a little irritating.

Categories
Romance

Read A Husband for Hartwell

Read A Husband for Hartwell

He must marry, or risk his fortune.

The whole of London Society has long assumed Lord William Hartwell will marry his childhood best friend, Lady Rebecca Warrington. After two Seasons, Hartwell remains quite content with bachelorhood–his parents do not. When Hartwell learns they intend to cut his purse strings unless he makes a match this Season, he resigns himself to a marriage of convenience with Becca, and yet he can’t help but be drawn to her younger brother, Warry.

He must marry, or risk his sister’s ruin.

The Viscount “Warry” Warrington is used to being viewed as the tagalong little brother. Now a grown man about to enter his second Season, Warry is desperate to be seen. When Lord Balfour, a handsome older peer, takes Warry under his wing, Warry thinks his dream is finally coming true. Until Balfour reveals his true intent–to make public a letter that will destroy Becca’s reputation, unless Warry agrees to marry him.

Time is running out for both of them.

When an injury forces Warry to recover at Hartwell House, the two succumb to a secret flirtation. But Warry’s sudden announcement of his engagement to Balfour drives Hartwell near mad with jealousy–and right into Becca’s arms. With the clock ticking for Warry to save his sister, will Hartwell discover the truth of Warry’s feelings before it’s too late?

Read the whole thing but should have quit. Hartwell treats the younger love interest poorly throughout the whole book – I thought he would get better but he kept digging himself deeper into dickishness.

It was also extremely uncomfortable that he’s portrayed as the good option compared to the bad guy when he “accidentally” nearly shoots the other man with an arrow. Both are bad options, and Hartwell certainly did not redeem his inexcusable behavior. He’s petty and jealous and dismissive and cruel at turns. Both of them hurt each other but I give the abuse victim a pass for defending himself and calling out bad behavior.

Also, Hartwell’s most memorable quality is burping in people’s faces? Not attractive.

Categories
Romance

Read In the Middle of Somewhere

Read In the Middle of Somewhere (Middle of Somewhere, #1)

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

I enjoyed this though it was pretty angsty, with lots of self-doubt on both leads’ parts, and violent histories. Good meet-cute. I liked the best friend Ginger. I read the POV character as much younger than he was, early-twenties rather than the thirties I think he’s supposed to be, he was pretty lacking in self-confidence and whiny (though understandable based on his history). Sex scenes are pretty graphic, and maybe too many? Pretty long but it didn’t drag — though not a ton was happening in the story, mainly emotionally. I didn’t expect the way it ended but it worked.

I’ll skip the next book because I’m not interested in a lead who verbally and physically abused his younger brother (the lead in this book).

I might read the third one, which was set up in this book, though I’m a little iffy on the age difference.