February Wrap Up, Pt. 2

I’m still doing well re-reading, even if I’ve deviated from the list I wanted to follow this month. But I still tackled one of those books this month (Harry Potter) and last month I re-read three of them, so I’m still on track to get to all of them before the end of the year. I can’t really say that about either of my other goals (the 18 backlist books to read in 2018 and my goal to read every non-fiction book I currently own by the end of the year). I am however reading more nonfiction. Does that count for something? It should. Alright, let’s hop to it!

1. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rakeby Sarah MacLean

This re-read was brought to you by Jenica being stressed about life! AND the Heaving Bosoms podcast did an episode that dropped Sunday about this book and Part Two is coming soon! Sarah MacLean is a go-to/auto-buy author for me because I’m generally guaranteed consent in her books. I would have said that sentence without the generally prior to this re-read because while nothing particularly bothered me about the way things went down, I could see how a few of these scenes would bother someone else. That said, there is so much discussion about gender roles and I absolutely adored that aspect of this book.

The book follows Lady Calpurnia Hartwell who is very much “on the shelf” because England times (shout out to the Heaving Bosoms podcast again for the term) and she finally decides that she’s spent her entire life protecting her reputation and doing nothing that society would consider scandalous so it’s time to LIVE. She makes a list of nine things that she wants to accomplish and one of them delivers her to the Marquess of Ralston’s doorstep in basically the middle of the night. Ralston, meanwhile, had a sister he didn’t know he had presented to him and needs a woman with an impeccable reputation to introduce Juliana to the rules of the Ton. Also, he’s a rake. OBVIOUSLY. The book is a sexy, delightful ride, that I very much enjoyed.

2. Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

I think I mentioned finding this book in a used bookstore in my new town (and yes, a used bookstore in my tiny af town because for unknown reasons there are two used bookstores and one regular one. I’m not complaining!) while apartment hunting and then proceeding to devour it… again. I absolutely adore Lady Helen Ravenel and think that for such a quiet seeming, kind hearted person, Helen is really such a strong character. She seems like a real person and I adore her for that. You definitely can’t read this book without having read Cold-Hearted Rake though, so pick that one up first!

This book follows Helen (obviously) and the very rich, but not accepted by the Ton, Rhys, owner of, well, lots of things really. Rhys is, to put it mildly, a little bit broken and trying so hard to be the person he thinks that he should be. That’s part of why he proposed to Helen, but that’s definitely not the only reason. I just love this series by Kleypas so much. If you’re new to the genre/Kleypas, I would honestly just dive in to Kleypas with this series and then go back and read her other series (also amazing). But to me, the Ravenels series is Kleypas at her best.

3. An American Marriageby Tayari Jones

I wrote a full review on this book because of how much I disliked the experience of reading it, but for the record, Dani and I are currently the only two people I know who didn’t like the book, so… Yeah, I have talked about this book enough. See my review for more. But here, you can admire the pretty cover!

4. The Wedding Dateby Jasmine Guillory

I’m obsessed with this book and I think it’s due to a mix of two very key things: 1) competence porn. Both the hero and heroine DO THEIR JOBS! It’s amazing! Also, my baby, Alexa is a lawyer turned Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Berkeley and y’all, my heart! She has a passion project!!! She has good reasons for it being her passion project!! She has to host town halls!! She’s like a slightly toned down version of Leslie Knope and I LOVE HER. 2) I read this to lessen the depressive effect of An American Marriage and this book was pure joy packaged in 311 pages. It was magical and beautiful and so lovely, even though it addressed racism! A concept ya girl can get behind.

Oh, I almost forgot!! The book also features a curvy woman who has some insecurities but also doesn’t care enough about those insecurities to worry overmuch about them. She’s so realistic, I can’t deal. I love her so much. If Jasmine could give me every page of book two she’s got right now, I would cry tears of joy.

If you haven’t heard of this book, Drew is in Berkeley for his ex-girlfriend and good friend’s wedding. He is also dateless, but after getting trapped in the elevator with Alexa and stealing some cheese and crackers from her, he asks Alexa to save him from his datelessness and be his date. She agrees and we go from there.

5. A Scot in the Darkby Sarah MacLean

Another re-read (the third if you’re keeping track) and another Sarah MacLean. This was the first romance audiobook available immediately on Overdrive that was one I had already read and could therefore listen to without all of my attention. I was still in a bit of a depressive haze post-An American Marriage (I’m not kidding when I say that book was awful for me to read) and at first this book was not the romance novel I should have jumped into. If you haven’t read MacLean’s Scandal and Scoundrel series, they feature women who are basically on the opposite end of the spectrum as Lady Calpurnia Hartwell in society’s eyes. So they provide absolutely excellent commentary that I adore, but are definitely not light reads, for all that they are romance.

This book is a take on revenge porn in the 19th century. Miss Lillian Hargrove tripped and fell in love with a trash can of a man who calls himself an artist. I mean, he is an artist. Anyway, because Lillian is naive and trusting, she poses nude for him and the asshole decides to submit it to a museum. Enter our hero, the Duke of Warnick who is a Scottish man who never asked for this title, okay? But Lily is his ward and he’s here to do his duty by her, and for heaven’s sake, why wasn’t he told he had a ward? I love both of these characters, but Alex really stole my heart all over again during this re-read.

6. Take the Leadby Alexis Daria

This book has gotten so much hype in Romancelandia and holy cow, it is deserved. Basically a book version of Dancing with the Stars, featuring our very competent professional dancer, Gina, and her reality star partner, Stone. Stone is gorgeous and Gina’s producer wants her to have a showmance with him, but Gina is very concerned about being a Latina woman in Hollywood and protecting herself from the over-sexualized stereotypes that she feels would threaten her career path. And yet, resisting her attraction to Stone is proving more difficult than she thought.

I absolutely adored this book and immediately purchased the second in the duology. Daria’s writing style connected with me immediately and I was so sucked in to the story!

7. Little & Lionby Brandy Colbert

I really enjoyed this book! It features mental health rep of bipolar disorder, positive-ish representation of taking medication for a mental health concern, lesbian, bi, and pansexual characters, discussions relating to biphobia, PARENTS, and the main character is a black woman. What I loved about this book was that it tackles so many heavy topics, but it does so in a way that never crosses over to just being dark and depressing. As I said on Goodreads, it can be done, lit fic world, it can be done.

I will say that the relationships in this book basically create two love triangles and if those bother you, it’s probably really going to bother you in this book. And huge TW for a slur for lesbian women toward the beginning of this book and generalized homophobia. I look forward to the day when we decide as a society that it’s unnecessary to include a slur so people know someone is a villain, but today was not that day. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and rated it about 4 stars.

8. Sabrielby Garth Nix

Another re-read, but omg, this book is so good! I feel like with The Golden Compass and A Wrinkle in Time, I was really disappointed by my re-reads. Largely because both of those rely so heavily on religious imagery, which wasn’t connecting for me as an adult. I’m interested to see how I feel about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe given that I knew even then that the book was allegorical for Christianity. Anyway, this book was absolutely wonderful and now I’m re-reading Lireal.

Apologies for the delay on this post. Moving and such is, you know, awful. But here you have it!


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