Wow, did this month get off to an excellent start on the reading front or what? Twitter this month has been A LOT and my job has been full of stress (stop abusing people!!!! Put me out of a job!!!!). Seriously though, everything happening in Romance Twitter has been making me want to scream. Check your privilege, check my privilege, for the love of God, stop being racist, it’s 2018. GET IT TOGETHER, AMERICA. Probably the world, in truth, but I live here and the amount of people (black people) who were killed by police this month alone just blows my mind (also, wtf, Starbucks?). Anyway, that’s a long intro to get at the point that I’ve been continuing my romance binge, but was making sure I was actually reading authors of color, especially black authors. So let’s hop to it!
1. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
I listened to this on audio and it was great. It taught me a lot, despite the fact that I saw this presented as an intro level read a few months ago. On the one hand, I agree. Oluo does a truly fantastic job of explaining basic concepts and also why she chooses one definition over the other (e.g., the definition she uses of racism). Also, her explanation of microaggressions was like earth-shatteringly better than the definition we got in our mini-diversity lecture during law school orientation. Unfortunately, I think it will take approximately six more reads or listens for me to be able to describe a microaggression to someone else at her level. But oh my goodness, speaking of checking your privilege, she talks about the privilege of having a four year degree in that chapter and the whole thing wound up blowing my mind. It was a really great read and I definitely recommend if you’re interested in brushing up on or introducing yourself to topics surrounding race.
I do also want to note that she wrote this book for people of all races, which I thought was great. It was interesting to see how she handled that.
2. Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai
My reaction when I got to my parents house and opened this book: screams, clutches book to chest, thrusts it toward her unconcerned father, screams some more
Yeah, you may have noticed that I was excited about this book. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I paused to squeal about it while I was in the middle of it. Honestly, the fact that I didn’t throw it at every person in my place of work on Monday morning to request that they read this book is a miracle. I love this book. I love Eve. I adore Gabe. I want to have been the person officiating Nico and Livvy’s wedding. I want to eat Jackson’s food and I want Sadia to be my best friend. Someone please tell me why I can’t have twelve more books set in this series with snippets of domestic bliss? Just kidding, I want Alisha Rai to write thousands of more books that I get to own and scream about and try to force people to read. I’m literally obsessed with this series, so if you haven’t started it… Well, hang on.
3. Beard in Mind by Penny Reid
While I was waiting for Hoopla to get it’s act together (you’ll see), I read Beard in Mind, which is Beau’s book in The Winston Brothers series. I really, really enjoyed this book, but I have a lot of caveats to that sentence. One) I do not have OCD so I cannot guarantee that this rep was done well. I can say that I did not see anyone in the one or two star reviews who indicated that they did not like this rep, but holy cow did I see a lot of people with very wrong opinions. Save yourself, don’t read those. Two) Wait, no, that’s it, that’s my only caveat. So! Beau! Shelly! Shelly has OCD and a lot of her chapters are consumed with her talking to her therapist (THERAPY REP!) and lusting after Beau. But she, like Livvy in Hate to Want You, shares great analogies and mental health tips that I think are really great to see. Beau is… Beau is wonderful. He’s a little bit of a mess, but you would literally not know that unless you’re in his head (which we are!) and I just adore him. So while I wouldn’t say this book surpassed Jethro and Sienna’s book in my mind, I did absolutely adore it. Also, IS IT TIME FOR BILLY AND CLAIRE’S BOOK YET?
4. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Okay, so first of all, read this book. Secondly, listen to the Heaving Bosoms podcast episode on this book. Third, re-read this book. Fourth, read the second book, Wrong to Need You. Fifth, read the third book, Hurts to Love You. Sixth, start the series over again.
I’m so serious, y’all. I love this book so much. I kind of want to re-read it again already. This book is on Hoopla, though if your library is like Durham’s, it might take a couple of days for you to be able to get it to download. (I’m still confused.) Anyway, if you haven’t read this book, it’s amazing and wonderful. Here’s one of my favorite lines:
“Society tells women that they have to be responsible for the emotional health of their relationships and then tells them they’re weak for feeling emotions. What kind of message is that?”
5. Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa
In contrast to Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory, our actor hero flying under the radar and going by his real name did not bother me nearly as much as it bothered our heroine, Tori. But Tori ordered a pineapple upside down cake martini within the first few chapters and was stoked about Aruba so, you know, I love her anyway. The chemistry between Carter and Tori sizzles off the page and I really liked the family element on both Carter and Tori’s behalf. I wish that we could have had just a littttle more time with each of their families and honestly, with the couple themselves, but I really enjoyed Sosa’s writing and am extremely excited for the second book in this series, which just came out!
6. Dance with Me by Alexis Daria
First of all, let me just say that I’m super excited that Take the Lead was double nominated for a RITA (problems with that aside, Take the Lead is amazing and deserves all the recognition), but I honestly think that Dance with Me is even better! This is an unpopular opinion from what I can tell, but Dimitri and Natasha are fire emoji on loop. Natasha’s emotional journey through this is so wonderful and Dimitri figuring out how to show his love for her was just heart eye emoji times a thousand. I genuinely adored this book so much and would like Alexis to give me approximately a thousand more books right now, please.
7. Awaken to Pleasureby Nalini Singh
This book was available on Hoopla and it’s Nalini Singh, so I borrowed and read it quickly. While the book wasn’t bad, I also didn’t love it. It’s a marriage of convenience, which, as you may know by now, is one of my favorite tropes. So the fact that I didn’t love it surprised me. A huge CW for miscarriage, which is actually probably the aspect of the novel I most appreciated. Overall, this novel was good, but not great and in comparison to Singh’s other works I’ve read, this one was a let down.
8. Children of Blood and Boneby Tomi Adeyemi
If you’ve managed to miss the hype surrounding Children of Blood and Bone, I’m really impressed. Also, I think you should maybe read it as soon as possible. This epic YA fantasy was fast paced, entertaining, and so easy to fly through. This book delivered in so many ways for me and I cannot wait to see where book two takes us.
In essence, the book follows three POV characters (but there are four main characters), two nobles (literally the prince and the princess) and two maji siblings, who are treated horribly. Magic disappeared one day and then the King went around and killed all of the adult maji, apparently to avenge the death of his first family. Anyway, after something happens, the two maji and the princess are off on an ADVENTURE. The book really doesn’t let up and while I think there could have been a little more breathing room, the break neck pacing was something I really enjoyed about the book. Genuinely so excited for book two!
9. Cabin Fever by Alisha Rai
It almost breaks my heart to admit that I didn’t enjoy this novel, one of Rai’s earliest works, as we all know that I adore her most recent series and the other books I’ve read from her. This short novel, however, both did and didn’t feel like Rai’s writing. The angst and the heat/sexy times were definitely there (though I do think she’s improved even in this area, I mean, there is no competition in this novel for Livvy and Nico), but there was a comment that seemed a little transphobic, which is wildly out of place for Rai. Additionally, I’m from West Virginia and, well, there are few things more irritating for us than when someone calls WVU the University of West Virginia. Y’all, when I tell you I almost DNF’d this book over that… But other than that, it was a mostly enjoyable read.
These books are far from perfect. They contain enough typos to be noticeable (especially The Viking Queen’s Men), but they are also going Romancelandia viral (see @mostlybree’s TL for more information) because this story is compelling af. The Afótama have found their missing Queen and are bringing her home, using the boy turned handsome man she more or less grew up with in the foster care system. Suspicious and a little overwhelmed, Tess gets thrown into the world where Harvey feels like a safe place to land and then Ollie walks into her life. BUT IT’S NOT A TRIANGLE, Y’ALL. Bless up, this book filled the void in my life that stems from feeling like I can’t just read Rachel’s book (of the Beyond series by Kit Rocha) on repeat for my whole life. But if a ménage is not your thing, definitely steer clear of these books.
The Chieftain’s Daughter continues following Ollie, Harvey, and Tess, and expands the world of the Afótama to a fantastic degree. This book was more angsty and had fewer typos so I did give it a higher rating than The Viking Queen’s Men, but dang, am I obsessed with this world.
12. Viking Flame by Holley Trent
Continuing the series storyline, but following different characters, this book felt like it was missing something that was not at all absent in the first two books of this series. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still want to read literally everything in this series, which also spans two spin off’s and only my crying bank account and desire to be able to eat food is preventing me from buying the entire series in one fell swoop. Anyway, this book follows Nadia, who is finally going to embrace her two fated mates, except, Nadia has only ever been with women. Simone, from The Prince’s Legacy (which in hindsight, I do wish I’d read first), is married to Heath, but has an arrangement with Heath wherein she also engages in physical activity with Thom. Perhaps the orgy-esque elements were part of my problem? But I don’t think so. I feel like there were emotional beats that just were not clicking with me at all. I think because Jeff spent half the book jealous and also petulant and I didn’t get his emotional arc.
So that was my first half of April in reading! Hopefully the rest of the month is full of equally as wonderful reading. We’ll see! What was your favorite book you’ve read so far this month?