I was blessed with a snow day on this fine, not snowy in my town day, which obviously meant I started reading earlier than I would usually be able to. I had Nick choose a number between 1-9 and he picked 1 so I started at the top of this TBR with Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. This book gave me so many feelings.
The book opens with Charlotte trying to sell her wedding dress to a secondhand shop in NYC when she discovers this gorgeous dress that has a blue heart with a note on it sewn inside. The note says it’s from the desk of Reed Eastwood and she’s intrigued enough that when she downs enough wine to forget that her ex-fiancé has replaced her, she winds up Googling him, discovering that he did not marry the woman the dress belongs to, and drunkenly schedules a showing for a $12 million penthouse she definitely cannot afford. Charlotte and Reed meet in that penthouse and they, um, do not get along well. Many things happen and obviously we get a happy ending because romance novel.
This book gave me feelings and had me giggling throughout so much of it. Of course, then it takes a turn for some serious angst, which was where things sort of stumbled for me. But at the end of the book, I had tears in my eyes and, like I said, entirely too many feelings. Arguably the most impressive thing about this book is how much I enjoyed it even though so much of the conflict/tension between them at first is because Reed doesn’t like that he likes Charlotte. Not an excuse to be an asshole, dude. Never an excuse. Regardless, I enjoyed it a lot.
I just finished Suleikha Snyder’s Tikka Chance on Me and now I would do terrible things for butter chicken. I actually feel that way 90% of the time, but the feeling intensifies when I read a book where it’s mentioned repeatedly. And chicken tikka masala. Oh man. I need to live in a place where I can get quality Indian any time I want.
Anyway, about the book, Tikka Chance on Me is about an Indian American heroine, Pinky, who is back in her small town working in her parent’s restaurant because her mom was sick with cancer. Her mom is better now, but Pinky still hasn’t left to resume chasing her dreams in Chicago. The book also follows Trucker, the Enforcer for this biker gang that is definitely into crime and maybe, probably a lot of the members are racists, but Trucker is hot and kind. I don’t want to spoil anything because this is a novella, but I feel like the chemistry between Trucker and Pinky really pops in this one. I loved reading about the two of them together, but I do with there had been a little more. This was another instance where I found myself struggling with the novella length. That said, I really enjoyed my time with this novella and am looking forward to reading more from Snyder.
I finished listening to No Rest for the Wicked, which I hadn’t intended to be reading during Smutathon, but once I finished A Hunger Like No Other and with my excitement around the Fated Mates podcast, I just really couldn’t resist picking up the second book in the series. I am absolutely loving this series and I especially enjoyed this installment. Specifically, what I love about this book is that Kaderin, who was long ago “blessed” to experience no emotions after the death of her sisters, is waking up to emotions again because of Sebastian, a turned vampire, who is literally coming back to life in a sense because of Kaderin. It’s such a fantastic parallel and I love the way Kaderin sort of resists Sebastian and he just keeps figuring out ways to help and protect her. The entire novel has an Amazing Race set up (the Hie is what their competition is called) and so that’s such a cool experience also. I just really adored this installment and listening to the podcast after finishing it made me like it even more. So if you aren’t listening to the podcast and you’ve ever thought about reading the books, I would definitely give it a shot!
I also read Sin and Ink by Naima Simone today. This book is one I had listed for the Forbidden trope because our main characters are former brother/sister in laws. I felt like this book delivered on the smut. It was really sexy and the chemistry between the main characters was undeniable. But something held me back from really loving this story and I’m not totally sure what it was. I think in some ways I felt like Knox was still extremely damaged and hadn’t exactly gotten himself to a place where he could be with Eden without feeling immense guilt, but… Idk.
I started Kulti on audiobook on my way to and from court but did not manage to convince myself to actually read anything after arriving home. I love the heroine’s voice and the way Mariana writes works perfectly with an audiobook because it feels like a friend is just chatting with you. Also right now, I cannot imagine how Kulti is going to redeem himself enough to be our romance hero. Like are you sure??
I continued listening to Kulti on my way to court, but I called half of my contacts to rant about my day on the way back home. Once I got home from dinner, I switched over to my Kindle and was like, “Oh, I’ll just double my progress from yesterday and get to 34% and then I’ll go to bed.” Many hours later, I finished the entire book. I have a lot of feelings about this book.
For one, as I mentioned yesterday, I absolutely adore the main character’s voice on audio. For another, I actually just really like Sal. I think she’s a fantastic heroine and I really, really like her. I appreciate the way this book has such a rich cast of secondary characters. Sal’s dad is hands down my favorite literary dad. Those are my good feelings. And then there’s this… Why the hell is Kulti such an arrogant jerk? Why become a coach if you’re not going to say anything? Is this explained? NOT REALLY. Like, I know he gives what is supposed to count as an explanation, but it’s not one, okay? It’s just not. Also, he makes this comment about contracts are contracts unless they’re written and that’s just not true. More difficult to enforce? Absolutely. But unenforceable? NOT AT ALL. Also, this book is so, so long and there are many ways in which it could have been tightened to be stronger overall.
All that is to say, I really enjoyed it, but there’s no way in hell Kulti deserves Sal, who is a funny angel and a true Hufflepuff Queen.
I started reading Emergency Engagement while I was waiting for my latte this morning and then I kept wanting to pick it up all day. I left work an hour early to go get my nails done and I finally figured out how to read on my phone while my nail tech worked. It’s not easy and I’m not sure he appreciated it, but I was super into this book. I was loving the book so, so much, right up until the dreaded plot twist that I saw coming a mile away. It didn’t kill the book for me because I was really enjoying Beck’s writing and wanted the hero to get to the point where he wanted to give in to happiness and joy, but it was rough
I also started If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman and, um, I’m currently hating this book. I love reading about plus sized heroines, especially ones who aren’t just a little curvy and could basically double as Ashley Graham who is one of the most beautiful women in the entire world. What I don’t love is reading a book where the heroine claims to love her body and spends an inordinate amount of time disparaging it, having other people disparage it, while still constantly talking about how she doesn’t hate her body and doesn’t want to lose weight. Less focus on our heroines size would be much appreciated. Here’s hoping the last 100 pages are better than the first 66 or whatever.
I woke up this morning and was feeling extremely lazy, which led to checking YouTube at the perfect time to discover the announcement for Romanceopoly. This sent me down a rabbit hole of looking at all the recommendations and checking my own TBR for books that fit the categories. At some point I was searching through a Goodreads list for erotic contemporary romance or something and saw a cover that I recognized, but wasn’t listed as read. I checked iBooks because I was pretty sure I’d read this book and sure enough, I had. But in order to figure that out, I decided to go ahead and just read the whole thing real quick. Which is how I wound up reading Naughty Boss by Whitney G. I also want to note for the record that I don’t actually find this book particularly erotic, but it is fun, quick and enjoyable enough. I just felt like it lacked something. I’m not totally sure what. I mean, I feel like I want to say it lacks substance, but that feels harsh.
I also finished If the Dress Fits, finally, and I can affirmatively let you know that I genuinely didn’t like it and I’m not really nervous about picking up the other Carla de Guzman I have on my list. My complaints about this book are the same as they were for the first half so I’m not going to go into more detail.
Then I started the next book in the Immortals After Dark series, even though it was not on my TBR and I still have three books left on it, but… Bowen and Mariketa!!! Like, how am I supposed to pass them up? Okay? I’m a hundred pages in and it’s midnight so I guess I should go to sleep now. Ugh. Good night!
Well, today was not nearly as productive as I needed it to be, but I did finish Wicked Deeds on a Winter Night, which is Bowen and Mariketa’s story. I absolutely loved this one. Bowen is trash, honestly, but Mariketa is the heroine I really needed to read, honestly. I found her so empowering and really just everything about her resonated really strongly with me. If you aren’t listening to the Fated Mates podcast with Sarah MacLean and Jen from JenReadsRomance on Twitter, y’all need to start. I just love their analysis of the books and they make such great points. My sister got me the fourth book in the series for Christmas and I’m in agony waiting until next Monday (we exchange our gifts to each other on Christmas Eve) to start it.
I also drove forever to Barnes and Noble, in part so I could listen to the podcast episode and in part because I really wanted to go to B&N and Target. I only made it to B&N, because after spending too much money there… Anyway. I bought myself Wicked Abyss because it was one of the few IAD books I haven’t picked up between the Audible sale, every used bookstore in the area, and the three I forced my sister to buy me. (Aka, I asked what my budget was, picked up Next Year in Havana and then added IAD books until I hit the budget.) But! I also bought Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston because I think the idea of badger shifters is absolutely wild. I sat in the floor to read the prologue to see if I would like it and I’m already so intrigued. I wanted to pick up The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston too, but then my mom was like, “Hey, pick up this book for your grandma” and I decided I didn’t need another book.
Anyway, that was my Smutathon! A lot of enemies to lovers happened this time, but I definitely didn’t hit the one night stand category. Oh well. One day I will stick to a TBR the whole way through. I honestly feel like reading six books on my nine book TBR is wildly impressive for me. My favorite reads of this readathon were definitely the IAD books, of which I really enjoyed both, but Mari probably wins Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night the title for favorite. I also loved Samanthe Beck’s writing so much that I downloaded book two from Audible (the series is in the romance package!). If you participated, let me know your favorite in the comments below!